LinkedIn May Have Just Designed the Ultimate B-to-B Banner

Slides in ads promoting presentations

Business-to-business advertising is fairly boring. It’s a lot of lead generation forms (often for companies specializing in lead generation) or banners pumping up some white paper or industry-specific acronym otherwise only found in alphabet soup. Leave it to LinkedIn, the self-described “world’s largest professional network,” to design the ultimate b-to-b banner.

On Tuesday, LinkedIn unveiled SlideShare Content Ads, the first advertising product to result from last year’s acquisition of content-sharing platform SlideShare. The name might suggest that these are display ads that will run as interstitials within SlideShare presentations (yay, native advertising)—but that’s not the case, if only because that would be too weird.

Instead, SlideShare Content Ads are display units that will run throughout LinkedIn—along the right rail adjacent to users’ activity streams, for example. After people click the banners, an overlay will pop up, letting users page through the presentation without navigating to a new Web page, though they have the option to expand the slides to full-screen. The expanded ads can also include a link that will direct back to the presenting company’s site for users to learn more.

“We’re excited about this integration because we know that presentations are a great way to educate, engage and even entertain audiences. We’re also testing more features that give brands the ability to collect leads directly from SlideShare content, and extend their reach through social gestures including 'Likes' and ‘Shares,’” LinkedIn monetization product manager Aviad Pinkoveszky wrote in a company blog post.

LinkedIn has partnered with General Electric and Constant Contact on the launch. The ads are being priced on a cost-per-thousand-impressions basis and can be targeted to LinkedIn users' profile information, such as company name or size, seniority and job function, said a LinkedIn spokesperson. In terms of reporting metrics, "LinkedIn provides an aggregate of non-personally identifiable profile and demographic data of members who see a campaign. This includes things like the job function, industry and seniority of those that view and click.  Also included is content viewing metrics like number of views, average time on presentations, and average time spent per slide," the spokesperson said.

Today’s announcement comes as news bubbles that LinkedIn is acquiring mobile news reader app Pulse (A LinkedIn spokesperson declined to comment on the acquisition reports.). Considering the launch of the Influencers prominent blogger program and the SlideShare deal that resulted in businesses creating SlideShare Channels on the network, LinkedIn has been making a strong play at building out a content arm beyond user posts and resumes. The company even held an event Sunday at South by Southwest focused on the Influencer program.