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LinkedIn Takes An Interest In Interest-Based Targeting

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LinkedIn launched interest-based targeting through its self-serve ad platform on Wednesday after more than three months in beta.

B2C marketers are accustomed to targeting prospects based on their interests – “fast food lovers,” “coffee drinkers,” “gym goers” – but there is less interest data available for B2B marketers, said Abhishek Shrivastava, LinkedIn’s director of product.

“A lot of B2B targeting is based on reaching accounts or looking at job titles and so forth, and that is something we’re trying to change by combining profile data with expressions of intent to make the targeting more compelling,” Shrivastava said.

Marketers on LinkedIn will initially have 200 professional interests to choose from, including “global economy,” “data centers,” “super computing,” “AI” and “customer experience,” with more to come.

LinkedIn already offered an assortment of targeting options through Campaign Manager and its Audience Network of third-party apps, including by geo, member profile data (company, job function, industry and the like) and by account. Marketers can also upload their own email lists to the platform and LinkedIn will find matching companies and users to target.

But bringing interest targeting to the table enables marketers to be more relevant with their messaging, Shrivastava said, and to “humanize” their interaction with potential leads.

“Ultimately, no one is just an IT director or just a recruitment manager – they’re a friend or a dad or a lover of movies, too,” he said.

Targeting based on interest also helps with scale. Advertisers that tested interest targeting with LinkedIn more than doubled their reach compared with using traditional targeting alone, Shrivastava said, and Digitas UK, one of LinkedIn’s beta testers, saw a 25% increase in click-through rate for campaigns that included interest targeting.

LinkedIn created its starter list of 200 interest-based targeting categories by pulling signals derived from how users engage with content on its platform. And there’s increasingly more signals to pull from, Shrivastava said, including likes, shares, comments and the types of groups people belong to.

Five years ago, people didn’t spend much time on LinkedIn other than to upload their resumes and update their profiles if they changed jobs.

But with the advent of the feed, the way people use LinkedIn has “changed dramatically,” Shrivastava said. Users are starting to come back on a daily basis to create and engage with content, and LinkedIn has seen a 34% year-over-year increase in session length time.

“People are posting and engaging with millions of pieces of content on the platform,” he said. “That allows us to tap into many different types of data for targeting, and you’ll continue to see us do more of that going forward.”

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