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LinkedIn wants more ad dollars, so it’s offering up more user data to advertisers

LinkedIn is partnering with DataSift so advertisers know more about the company’s user base.

Al Gore And LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner Address Washington Ideas Forum
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner 
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

LinkedIn wants more advertising dollars, and it has a simple plan for how to get them: Give advertisers more information about its user base so they know what ads to show.

To do this, LinkedIn announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with DataSift, a social data aggregator that will scrape LinkedIn for info about what users are clicking on or talking about, and sell that anonymized, aggregated info to advertisers so they can better target their ads.

Update: LinkedIn sent us a statement from VP of Product for its marketing tools, Russell Glass, to reiterate that it doesn’t want to give away your individual data: “LinkedIn Engagement Insights was designed to respect the privacy of our members. DataSift’s PYLON reporting API lets marketers build customized reports that feature aggregated audience, content and company data in a way that prevents LinkedIn private member data from being collected or viewed."

DataSift is not paying LinkedIn for the data. Instead, LinkedIn hopes that giving away the data means they’ll get more ad dollars from marketers.

“The value that we will [contribute] to LinkedIn ultimately is through better marketers being more active on LinkedIn and growing their spend,” explained DataSift CEO Tim Barker.

LinkedIn’s ad sales make up less than 20 percent of the company’s overall revenue, but slowing ad growth was one of the chief concerns with LinkedIn’s business before Microsoft acquired the company for more than $26 billion this summer. More user data in the hands of marketers might help remedy that.

LinkedIn isn’t the only social platform DataSift monitors. The company also has deals with networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and was an original data reseller for Twitter before an unfriendly breakup almost two years ago.

Twitter now sells its own data through Gnip, a company it acquired in 2014, and brings in tens of millions of dollars from the business each quarter.

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