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LinkedIn Ads Now Follow You Around the Web

LinkedIn is getting smarter -- and more aggressive -- about its ads.

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

LinkedIn is taking a page from Facebook’s playbook.

The professional network announced new ad products Thursday, including a new way for advertisers to reach LinkedIn users on websites other than LinkedIn.

That new product, called LinkedIn Network Display, lets advertisers buy ad space from LinkedIn on other sites around the Web. Marketers can target specific groups of people — for example, media sales executives from the Bay Area — show them ads on LinkedIn and then use Internet cookies to continue advertising to them online even after they’ve left LinkedIn.

So, the company is selling ad space on other websites — does this mean LinkedIn now operates an ad network?

Well, yes, but Russ Glass, head of LinkedIn’s marketing solutions products, says he doesn’t view it that way. Instead, Glass thinks of the service as an “audience network,” where advertisers are targeting specific groups of people to advertise to, not specific websites to advertise with.

If this sounds familiar, you’re onto something. Facebook offers advertisers what it calls Audience Network, which does something similar using the company’s vast array of user data. Instead of using personal data, LinkedIn is simply targeting people based on professional data, Glass explained.

The new product stems from LinkedIn’s acquisition last summer of Bizo, which offered a similar technology. (Glass was CEO of Bizo at the time of the acquisition.) Some of the partner sites where LinkedIn will now be selling ad space include CNN and, Glass says.

LinkedIn also introduced another tool on Thursday called Lead Accelerator. The product is an algorithm that’s intended to determine where a particular LinkedIn user is in the buying process; it will then automatically surface the appropriate ad to that user in hopes of pushing them further along that timeline.

In other words, it’s a technology for LinkedIn advertisers to know when to serve which ads to which users.

Sponsored Content, which falls under LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions ad offering, is already the company’s fastest growing business; the new tools from Thursday could help boost that growth even more.

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