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LinkedIn Aims to Attract More Marketers With New Partner Programs

Buzzword alert: It's about creating better, more "native" ads.

Terry Chay/Flickr

Here’s an update for those not paying attention to LinkedIn over the past two years: It wants to be a content company, not just a repository for resumes. That’s why we’ve seen multiple redesigns, new mobile apps and a very Facebook-like approach to the site’s look and feel.

This is why: The more stuff that flows through your feed, the more likely marketers will try to sell Sponsored Updates — LinkedIn’s paid ad product — against it. This is exactly what Facebook and Twitter do; LinkedIn wants to do it, too.

But LinkedIn needs a way to help brands make their ads good, and give them tools to better manage the ad campaigns. Which is why the company is rolling out its Sponsored Updates Partners and Content Partners on Thursday, a group of outside companies that will help marketers do just that.

Ultimately, LinkedIn marketing VP Penry Price says, it’s a way of getting brands closer to creating “native ads” — today’s buzzword for “ads that don’t feel like ads” — while also helping them target the right groups of people on the network. That can include analytics dashboards which let brands monitor how those ad campaigns are working out.

“I think for all platforms, the goal is to make sure you’ve got an ecosystem that develops around them,” Price said in an interview. “Well before Facebook, Google did it with search engine marketers.”

He’s right, and LinkedIn is following suit (albeit a few years behind the pack). LinkedIn’s Certified Marketing Partner program is reminiscent of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer program, or Twitter’s Certified Product Partner program — groups of companies whose bread and butter comes from helping brands make and manage Facebook and Twitter ads.

It’s good for partners like Brand Networks and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, who get business sent their way from Facebook, Twitter and now LinkedIn for being a part of the programs. And obviously it’s good for Facebook and LinkedIn, which see increased ad spend on their platforms as a result.

That is, if these programs do indeed increase ROI for marketers that buy the ads and services. (LinkedIn, of course, claims they’re worth it; the company said pilot partners saw a 30 percent bump in engagement on their Sponsored Update campaigns, for what that’s worth.)

Expect the new partner programs to begin Thursday.

This article originally appeared on

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