Programmatic, LinkedIn, and Brand Safety

September 27, 2016

Programmatic, LinkedIn, and Brand Safety

Programmatic 2.0 has arrived, and premium advertisers are embracing it.

Over the past decade, programmatic ad spending has surged year over year and 2016 has been no exception. Next year, programmatic’s growth will continue with advertisers in the United States boosting their spending on programmatic display ads by 24 percent to $27.5 billion, according to eMarketer projections. And while some studies indicate that programmatic ads are effective — a recent study found that programmatic ads lead to a 55 percent increase in offline sales — others aren’t quite sure.

While marketers like the idea of automation and efficiency, two cornerstones of programmatic ad buying, it is these very things that cause advertisers to remain wary of programmatic. Sure, automating buys against aggregated inventory is efficient, but marketers question where their ads are landing and who is actually viewing them. Is the advertiser’s premium ad placement on a website placed below the last article? Is the advertiser’s premium ad on its competitor’s page? Or worse, a trashy tabloid site?

Advertisers are uncertain programmatic delivers a quality audience: 48 percent of marketers said they are concerned with waste, according to a recent study by Chango and Rubicon Project. Almost 70 percent of marketers are “very” or “extremely” concerned with viewability. And brand safety also remains a big issue for marketers who are troubled by the lack of quality inventory in programmatic.

The issues of audience, viewability, and brand safety may have plagued Programmatic 1.0, but Programmatic 2.0 has arrived — and LinkedIn is already playing a big role in this new era. We recently announced the availability of programmatic buying of LinkedIn Display Ads.

In previous posts, we detailed how LinkedIn programmatic addresses the issues of audience and viewability. In this post, we’ll show how LinkedIn is solving the problem of brand safety that has often plagued programmatic buying.

Brand safety has posed a conundrum since the dawn of programmatic buying. Marketers love the efficiency of reaching their audience on a range of websites across the Internet, but that efficiency is often purchased with the possibility of an ad landing on an inappropriate website or landing adjacent to inappropriate ads.

I believe the programmatic buying of LinkedIn Display Ads has arrived just in time. By now buyers are used to the many benefits of programmatic and are no longer excited by just the idea of mass auto-buying across the Internet. If publishers don’t meet the challenge of the premium advertisers embracing programmatic, the industry will remain imbalanced and there will continue to be a lack of premium supply available to match the demand.

By shifting LinkedIn display inventory to programmatic, we are taking the first step to correct that imbalance by solving both brand safety challenges. First, we control the kind of advertising that runs on LinkedIn, so your advertising won’t be running next to ads promoting celebrity listicles or ads marketing questionable products. Second, your ad will, in fact, be the only ad on the page. And that page will be on the LinkedIn domain, a site that is a destination for the world’s professionals — the audience you’re after. I expect other major publishers will follow our lead and make more inventory programmatically available. Advertisers — and the now established programmatic industry — shouldn’t stand for anything less.

Today, AppNexus issued a press release announcing the availability of LinkedIn display inventory through the AppNexus platform, which means that advertisers can now target LinkedIn's premium audience of more than 450 million professionals through AppNexus' open and private auction buying options.

To learn more about marketing on LinkedIn, download the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Platform Overview.