LinkedIn's adding another element to their ad offering, broadening their reach beyond LinkedIn itself via their new LinkedIn Audience Network.
Well, actually LinkedIn has done similar before - they first introduced a version of their Audience Network back in 2008 - but this new iteration has something extra, in the form of LinkedIn's partnership with Microsoft.
Through Microsoft's expanded network, LinkedIn will have broader reach than previous (via properties like MSN and Outlook), which will give advertisers more ways to re-target users off-platform. And the benefits of that could be significant.
Of course, you can already advertise through similar networks via Google or Facebook, but LinkedIn's advantage is that its dataset is unique. If you want to reach people with a certain job title, people who work for a certain company, decision-makers in specific sectors, LinkedIn has advantages over those other two networks in their capacity to reach professionals. And because LinkedIn acts as a digital resume, and thus, a key reference point for business types, LinkedIn users are better incentivized to keep their details up to date, which means more accurate targeting.
LinkedIn says the Audience Network will enable advertisers to reach users on 'thousands of premium partner apps and websites where LinkedIn members spend their time', in addition to reaching the 500 million+ members who are now signed up to LinkedIn (though, in fairness, only around a quarter of those users are monthly active users).
The program's actually been in beta for some time, with LinkedIn noting that:
"To date, more than 6,000 LinkedIn advertisers have participated in our Audience Network beta program. On average, these advertisers have seen a 3-13% increase in unique impressions served, and up to an 80% increase in unique clicks. This means that advertisers running campaigns in the Audience Network are reaching new people they hadn't yet engaged on one of LinkedIn's owned and operated properties."
In terms of targeting, LinkedIn's looking to give advertisers control over how and where their ads appear with a range of options.
As you can see here, if you choose to have your ads displayed on the Audience Network (in your campaign set-up), you'll be able to select the categories of websites and apps to exclude, while you can also block specific apps or sites by uploading a custom list of domains.
LinkedIn will also be vetting their partner publishers to ensure they meet LinkedIn's advertiser guidelines and quality standards
"In addition, because Audience Network campaigns only serve to LinkedIn members, you can be sure that there are real people seeing and clicking on your ads."
It's a good move by LinkedIn, and will no doubt hold appeal for a great many advertisers looking to focus their message on specific, professional audiences. As noted, the idea is not entirely new, but the advanced targeting and assurance options of the new system should help improve the reach and response of LinkedIn Audience Network content, helping you reach the right people at the right time.