Brands Will Now Know How Many People Bought Products After Seeing LinkedIn Ads

A peek at conversions and leads

Fresh off its $26.2 billion acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn is lifting the hood on its advertising business to give marketers a glimpse at which campaigns are the most effective at driving sales.

The professional social network is launching conversion tracking for advertisers today that shows how many people took an action such as purchasing a product or signing up for a service after viewing either a text ad or a piece of sponsored content. To access the stats, marketers just plug a piece of code called a tag into their websites. 

The goal is to "get below the clicks and engagement metrics and beyond to the conversion metrics that are happening on a marketer's own website," said Russell Glass, head of product for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

Marketers can use the data to tweak a campaign's creative and targeting to make better ad buys. They'll also be able to see how many sales leads, sign-ups, downloads and sales a particular campaign generated.

Such tracking is common in digital advertising—companies like Google, Facebook and various ad networks offer advertisers similar features. LinkedIn's twist, it says, is the plethora of professional data collected about its users that correlates to sales.

Previously, advertisers have relied on third-party companies like Google to measure their campaigns. Conversion metrics are now built into LinkedIn's ad-management software. Brands can also look at the conversion stats by buying ads through two tech partners—4C and AdStage—that are plugged into LinkedIn's API.

"You can see that let's say the finance industry is converting at a much higher rate than the healthcare industry," Glass said. "You can see people with a marketing job titles are converting at a much higher rate than people with sales [titles]."

In the coming months, LinkedIn—which has 450 million users, 106 million of whom are monthly active users—plans to launch other forms of ad targeting, like website retargeting, using the conversion-tracking tool.

LinkedIn has tested conversion tracking in recent months with 200 advertisers and is close to getting 1,000 advertisers on board. The network claims that between July and August, advertisers' cost-per-conversion dropped by an average of 21 percent when testing conversion tracking.

Most of those brands are business-to-business advertisers, LinkedIn's bread and butter. But there is also a group of consumer-brand advertisers, particularly companies that sell luxury or high-end products.

"They're selling more expensive goods like luxury auto, or they're high-end brands that are focused on reaching people like executives and professionals," Glass said. "We don't see as much in the CPG space or mass market consumer spend."