I had a really interesting morning at LinkedIn HQ in London yesterday, discussing some of the direction the company is going in terms of product. I recently posted a breakdown of the second half results announced by LinkedIn, which showed a big investment in product and headcount, particularly around advertising and account management.
Historically, the advertising products have only been available in English, but the company have recently announced that they are launching ads in 17 languages, in keeping with the move to make the platform and user profiles available in every language. LinkedIn operates in 200 countries, and being genuinely global means being bilingual. The new languages are  EnglishCzechDutchFrenchGerman,IndonesianItalianJapaneseKoreanMalayNorwegianPolishPortugueseRomanianRussianSpanish,Swedish, and Turkish. Other languages are being considered for the future.  you can select the language you want your ad to appear in by selecting the language you want from the drop down in settings, or the language link button at the bottom of your home page. (It is worth noting that the language of member posts will always be displayed in the language they were posted.) For global or domestic recruiters outside of English speaking countries this has to be a really exciting development, but how well do LinkedIn ads work?

This ties in with my belief that the recent changes to the home page are all about keeping users in channel, staying for longer periods of time. Since the launch of the new home page integrating the update stream and switching posting from updates to the home page, engagement in channel is at an all time high. The principle is simple, for ads to work, users need to be kept in and on channel. Making the experience local through language is another way of achieving this. The more time spent in channel on the home page and user profiles, the more effective the advertising.

There are a range of ways to place ads on LinkedIn including PPC which allows for targeting by all of the fields within LinkedIn including location, company, job title, skills, seniority, etc. A really interesting option allows for targeting members of groups. It is an exciting prospect to be able to reach all the people employed at a competitor, or the members of a specific group who fit your target audience. The suggested costs are a bit more than you would expect to pay for similar ads on Facebook or Google but it is PPC, you can set limits and the structured data on LinkedIn makes targeting incredibly accurate. As with all PPC, you are going to get better results and reduce your costs by placing multiple ads and dissecting the audience and mixing text and image according to audience. The downside of `LinkedIn ads is that you are restricted to 80 characters in the title and 80 characters in the description. (think writing for Twitter.) As with all PPC you should split test different ads to see which ones work for which audience. You can post a link in the ad to a LinkedIn page or an external website. I’m piloting these ads to promote a company page, now that LinkedIn allow updates from the page, and give page administrators access to the profiles of people following the page. Even if you have tried PPC previously and not got the results in the past, I think it is worth trying again due to the new home page features.The other option is to take a look at the other advertising options. You can read more in the LinkedIn solutions center.

Whilst I was at LinkedIn, I got a look at some of the ways LinkedIn are mining the data behind user profiles and companies to identify the full potential for the 3 product offerings:

> Matching solutions

> Hiring solutions

> Media solutions

The potential to mine data for understanding your business, the people within it and the market you work in is really impressive. The more the user numbers grow, the more the structured data pool grows. The potential for developing new products that interpret this data in a constructive way, and to deliver targeted recruitment campaigns is phenomenal. LinkedIn is all about data, and there is a lot more to come from this.

When looking at the data, one area really stood out for me that i think is really exciting, and that is the number of views of all the company employees profiles combined. When you consider who looks at profiles, it is easy to see that these are going to be people from the same sector, competitors, people from the same field or with a similar skill set.In a company of any size, that is going to be a lot of very relevant eyes over the course of a year. One of the LinkedIn media solutions is to place an ad next to all of your employees profiles. The ad that works best takes the picture of the user viewing the profile and positions the image with text like “see yourself at” with your company name and other detail like the job title of the visitor. I have seen this level of personalized advertising work very effectively with company pages, but the potential of these ads with employee profiles is significant. I inquired after  the cost of this type of campaign, given the volume of eyes, and was surprised to hear the price point (on rate card) at £4,200 a year for 1000 employees (£4.20) each for a year, with reductions for additional employees. This could be the best bit of internet real estate for recruiters.

I will be running a track on the changing face of LinkedIn at #TruLondon on 22nd and 23rd October. I hope you can join us for the discussion. With so much changing in the channel, it really is time to rethink your LinkedIn strategy, with targeted advertising a part of that thinking.

Bill