LinkedIn Marketing Revenue Up 56%, Seeks To Expand Monetization Opportunities

LILinkedIn had strong growth across all lines of business in the fourth quarter. Marketing Solutions revenue for the quarter was up 56% year over year, coming in at $153 million.

This beat some analysts expectations, which projected that figure at a slightly lower $131 million. [Here are the full results.]

Marketing Solutions accounts for 24% of LinkedIn’s total revenue, which was $643 million in Q4. For the full year, Marketing Solutions revenue reached $454 million.

During the Thursday earnings call, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner referenced a relaunch of its Marketing Solutions product in the coming months to enable prospecting throughout the sales funnel.

“Our acquisition last year of Bizo was a large step in our strategic roadmap,” said company CFO Steve Sordello on the earnings call. “We’re…reenvisioning our product suite, and will introduce an integrated portfolio to help marketers reach, nurture and acquire prospects.”

In relaunching Marketing Solutions, Sordello said LinkedIn would marry two key sides of the division’s business – content and data.

Bizo’s B2B data marketing platform brought in $16 million in revenue in the quarter with $4 million attributed to Bizo’s data licensing business, which LinkedIn has since shut down. (This was contentious for those who felt the sunsetting would cut off third-party demand partners.)

LinkedIn’s self-described native ads product, sponsored updates, accounted for about 43% of Marketing Solutions’ revenue. LinkedIn hopes, by further integrating Bizo, it can provide lead nurturing tools “both on LinkedIn and off, on desktop and on mobile,” said Sordello.

A new area for LinkedIn is long form content publishing, which it introduced last February and has accrued more than 1 million posts to date.

Whether long form content will open new inventory for LinkedIn or impact overall CPMs remains to be seen – it’s still early days for the product, and the majority of LinkedIn inventory are sponsored updates, mostly on mobile.

LinkedIn also sees SlideShare, the content sharing platform the company acquired for $119 million in 2012, as a potential source of inventory and monetization for Marketing Solutions, since it has 70 million uniques.

LinkedIn says its differentiator from other consumer platforms and enterprise services is data and content.

“By virtue of our membership representing their identity to the world, we increasingly see those individuals sharing professionally relevant knowledge, which provides a strong in to somebody who wants a relationship with that prospect,” said Sordello.

Understanding when someone switches a job, is promoted, or shares a piece of content are all important signals that can indicate messaging opportunities to sales or marketing organizations.

LinkedIn’s overall user growth has been strong, increasing 25% year over year to 347 million members at the end of 2014. LinkedIn’s executive team attributed the uptick in its user base to organic engagement and strong international growth.

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