With political interference on social media becoming an increasingly significant issue, the platforms themselves are working on new tools and options to help users better understand why they're being targeted with certain ads, who they're being targeted by and what other campaigns a company may be running.
And while Facebook has been the main focus of this shift, research in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential Election has shown that politically motivated groups have utilized various platforms in their influence efforts, including Pinterest and LinkedIn.
That's why, this week, LinkedIn has followed the lead of Facebook and announced the addition of a new ad transparency tab for LinkedIn company pages, which will provide oversight into all the ads a company has run on the platform over the preceding six month period.
As explained by LinkedIn:
"To bring even greater transparency to ads on LinkedIn, we are introducing a new Ads tab on LinkedIn Pages. In this tab, members will be able to view all the Sponsored Content (native ads running in the LinkedIn feed) that advertisers have run on LinkedIn in the past six months. Members can click on the ads, but the advertisers will not be charged for these engagements and the clicks will not impact campaign reporting."
It may not seem like LinkedIn would be a prime target for this type of political manipulation, but as noted, LinkedIn has already removed several politically motivated groups as part of the broader social platform focus on such activity.
Last August, LinkedIn banned a cluster of accounts that had been using fake profiles to network with members of US political groups, while in the wake of the 2016 Election, Newsweek reported that "Russian propaganda and trolling campaigns [were being] widely applied" on the professional social network. LinkedIn also banned political ads outright last year.
It seems less open to such activity, given the content that flows through LinkedIn feeds, but with LinkedIn engagement at 'record high' levels, and more members signing up to the platform every day, it makes sense that politically motivated groups would also look to the network to amplify their messaging.
An added benefit for social media marketers is that it will help businesses gain more insight into what their competitors are doing on the platform, and how they're utilizing LinkedIn ads. Now, you'll be able to check a listing of all the ads any company is running, providing more perspective on how they're looking to reach their target customers on the network. That type of competitor research can be hugely valuable in planning your own campaigns.
LinkedIn says that the ads tab builds on its related efforts in this regard, including the addition of its new ad settings which each member can access from their LinkedIn account. LinkedIn also notes that this is "the first of many updates to come" in relation to ad transparency on the platform.
LinkedIn's new ads tab will be rolling out to all LinkedIn users, globally, "over the next few weeks".