LinkedIn Pushes Ad Tools

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By Ian Sherr

LinkedIn Corp. is beefing up its advertising technologies, offering marketers more ways to target ads to the social network’s users and making it easier for big advertisers to connect to its website.

The business-oriented network, which has more than 90 million members, plans to roll out updates for its marketing tools that let advertisers zero in on people based upon job titles, seniority, age and location, people familiar with the matter said.

LinkedIn, which declined to comment, will be wading into an already competitive market where social-networking rival Facebook Inc. is rapidly gaining ground. Last month, more than a quarter of all online display ads in the U.S. appeared on Facebook, according to comScore Inc. By comparison, LinkedIn represented less than 1%.

The moves come as the Mountain View, Calif., company prepares to file paperwork for an initial public offering. Advertising represents roughly a third of the closely held company’s revenue, with the rest coming from subscription services and recruiting tools.

While the company has recruited a few big advertisers such as American Express Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co., it remains to be seen whether more will follow suit.

“LinkedIn has a large and growing audience,” said David Karnstedt, chief executive of Efficient Frontier, an online marketing firm that helps advertisers place their ads on the Internet.

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(Published Jan. 26, 2011, in The Wall Street Journal.)