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LinkedIn Sponsored Updates: The Best B2B Social Advertising Option Yet?

LinkedIn LogoHave you felt like social advertising just wasn’t right for your B2B marketing?

If so, LinkedIn’s new Sponsored Updates may just change your mind. This looks like the most compelling social advertising offering yet for B2B marketers.

Up until now, advertising on LinkedIn was just advertising. With great targeting options, LinkedIn was compelling, but advertising opportunities didn’t fit the increasingly social framework of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates change that, giving marketers the ability to promote updates in the LinkedIn content stream beyond their own followers or connections.

As you can see in the screenshot below, sponsored updates look very similar to a traditional update. It includes your update, link, and information about the target page. In addition, you can follow the company, like an update or comment.

Example LinkedIn Sponsored Update

To protect the user experience, I understand LinkedIn will limit Sponsored Updates to one per page, and they will not be placed in the first position.

Here are 7 reasons I believe this will be good for both B2B marketers and LinkedIn’s shareholders.

1. Social Advertising, With LinkedIn Targeting

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could target social ads to senior marketers at large companies or owners at startups? With LinkedIn’s rich audience data, you finally can. For B2B marketing in particular, I continue to believe LinkedIn’s self-maintained profile data is the best quality data available in the industry.

2. Fills the Mobile Gap

Over the last few quarters, we have seen mobile go from a major weakness to a significant revenue driver for Facebook, now representing 30% of all revnue (http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/01/facebook-mobile-ad-revenue/). Until now, LinkedIn has not had a way to monetize mobile audiences and marketers have not had a mobile advertising option on LinkedIn, yet mobile is becoming more important for LinkedIn’s business-focused audience every day.

3. Supports Content Marketing Programs

You don’t have to look far to see the importance of content marketing in B2B. Like other social ad options, Sponsored Updates will be a great way to promote content, particularly for marketers looking to promote blog posts, articles, infographics or other content that doesn’t require registration.

4. Available On a CPC Basis

Cost per click or interaction has become the norm in the social advertising space. Although LinkedIn has had a CPC option before, the format and placement puts Sponsored Updates on par with other content updates, not relegated to low visibility ad space.

5. Improves Performance

By moving ads into the main stream, click rates should increase significantly from the 0.025% that has been reported as LinkedIn’s average click rate on CPC ads. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2186867/click-rate-ppc With improved click rates, a CPC pricing model and the mobile benefit cited above, this offering can quickly become a meaningful revenue driver for LinkedIn as well.

6. Viral Reach and Engagement is Free

Unlike Twitter, which bills for every interaction (follow, reply, retweet, etc) of a Sponsored Tweet, LinkedIn is focusing on a pure CPC on the shared link. If someone likes, comments or shares your update, there is no charge. If shares drive additional clicks, there isn’t an additional cost. Because they can drive additional sharing, Sponsored Updates could even become the tipping point that puts your content in LinkedIn Today.

7. Broadly Available

LinkedIn is making Sponsored Updates available through their sales team and through their self serve platform, making it easy to test and easy to incorporate into larger existing programs.

LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates won’t likely come cheap. According to my conversation with LinkedIn, you should expect to pay between $3 and $7 per click initially. However, for B2B marketers looking to reach specific business audiences, it just might be the best social advertising option yet.

Your Turn

Have you seen LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates test, or participated in it? If so, what do you think of this new opportunity? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).