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The quietly huge news from LinkedIn

Lost in the shuffle of Facebook’s busy week, Uber’s quest for world, on-demand domination, and Snapchat’s burgeoning valuation, is some quiet but consequential news from LinkedIn.

The little professional startup that could announced an open ad network that will enable advertisers to serve ads beyond its walls for the first time.

The five ad products, as detailed by TechCrunch, are LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, Sponsored Updates, LinkedIn Onsite Display, LinkedIn Network Display, and Sponsored InMail.

The one of importance is Network Display, which, as TechCrunch reported, allows “allows advertisers to run ads on both LinkedIn itself and on 2,500 publisher sites across the web.”

LinkedIn’s competitive advantage is that it has a deeper professional profile than pretty much every publishers that the ads would run on. And as this Medium post by Alex Kantrowitz posits, it has the possibility to flipping the entire content ecosystem model on its head. 

Publishers have long been able to argue audience by virtue of its content. If we’re writing about accounting, accountants will make up the bulk of our audience. And while that is undoubtedly true (apologies to those who just read about accounting in their spare time), the reality is that accountants read a ton of other pieces of content (from Gawker to ESPN to US Weekly). Now a provider of services for accountants will be able to reach those audiences across the web and that accounting website loses a bit of its competitive advantage. 

There is, of course, the counter argument that an accountant reads those sites to escape the drudgery of his or her job, and would prefer not seeing those type of ads and will not be receptive to the messaging, but that will be proven or disproved through actual, live campaigns. 

But if it is successful, expect general interest publications become every more general interest – looking to ensnare as many readers as possible, knowing that ad campaigns for all occupations will be easy to get through LinkedIn. 

Regardless, it makes the media environment an even more exciting one to follow.   

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