LinkedIn’s Roadshow Heads to Cannes

With a new slate of ad offerings, a social network goes deal-making on the Riviera

The Cannes Lions festival has become a tech playground, and LinkedIn has embraced the event to strengthen its industry ties.

At last year’s festival, agencies and brands still demanded improved products from the platform, including more mature audience and data tools. LinkedIn then launched Sponsored Updates—ads in user feeds. Now, Adweek has learned, it’s testing Direct Sponsored Content, letting marketers fine-tune ads that don’t originate as posts on company pages.

The testing ability, known as “dark” publishing, is already available on Facebook and Twitter—and is a sign that LinkedIn is catching up. Expect the new option to be part of LinkedIn’s pitch to agencies over rosé on the Croisette.

“It’s incredibly valuable,” said Marion Chomse, social strategist at Mindshare. “If you want to see if an image or specific copy is effective, you can do small tests with two posts that are similar but different, and learn from that.”

Jon Williams, LinkedIn’s agency team head, characterizes Cannes as an accelerator for the company’s advertising goals. “The timing of Cannes last year was great for us,” he said. “We were able to share our longer-term road map and gain feedback and insights into what was needed.”

In the past year, holding companies WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, Havas and several of their agencies have invested in LinkedIn content strategies. Ad tech firms like Shift plugged into its new network for buying Sponsored Updates.

LinkedIn also is forging closer ties with PR firms. FleishmanHillard recently launched a LinkedIn-powered service called The Native Newsroom, and SJR, owned by WPP’s Hill+Knowlton, is a Certified Content Partner. “LinkedIn provides a platform where we’re able to reach the right people,” said Alexander Jutkowitz, managing partner at SJR. “The business of LinkedIn is business.”

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