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In defense of LinkedIn’s social ads feature

August 11, 2011

It appears Maria is out of LinkedIn. The reason? LinkedIn’s devious use of a permissions box. (See the links below for a full taste of the anger)

Allow me to be pro this.

Social ads need your picture and name. If they don’t have your picture or name, they aren’t social ads. They are just ads. This is a social ad from Facebook:

  At the bottom, it says “Matt Hames likes this”. For marketers, this acts like a mini-testimonial. My endorsement is has relevance to people who are my friend.

On LinkedIn, they want ads to come with micro impressions from connections. This is good for two reasons:

1. The ads can be highly targeted. This is good for marketers who can put their wares in front of people who care. They will be better impressions. This is also good for the end-user. Indeed, you can go into LinkedIn and tell them the ads you would like to see. I selected a bunch of different categories, so in theory, I will only be delivered ads based on those categories. No more Fat Belly ads. I hope.

2. The mini-endorsement is good for the marketer and end-user. The reason having a built-in testimonial for a marketer is clear. But the reason it is good for the end-user is information. The fact that a certain number of my connections like (or clicked on an ad) helps me make a decision. Their opinion matters – isn’t that the whole idea of social networking? When I’m looking for something, and I see connections I trust giving it a thumbs up, I am more liable to find the thing I need.

So what’s the downside? 

Data. This is another company that has my data. As a publicly traded company, there is a fear that one day, if the company is in trouble, the solution is selling my data. I suppose that depends on who they sell it to.  Anonymous fears this at Facebook, and therefore will attempt to close Facebook down on November 5th.

But is this really a downside? I think the micro-testimonial from above is so small that someone will not hold it against me that I’m a fan of the NYIGF. For the end-user, data about how connections use products can be an important element in the decision-making process.

By all means, make up your own mind. If you think this is devious of LinkedIn, then quit. I happen to think social advertising is a welcome addition, and way for LinkedIn to get paid. It will impact the way marketers advertise, but I think it will be in a good way.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ecodelta permalink
    August 14, 2011 3:08 pm

    The problem is not the usefulness of the new service, but to change privacy level in an opt-out way.

    Putting a notice in their blog, which not everyone reads, using a pop-out that many will have blocked through pop-out blockers, and even when read not easy to know what it means is not a excuse to proceed to an opt-out privacy level change.

    I use linked-in regularly and was not aware of the change until I read a post in our company group with the policy change, and with the recommendation of my company to change it.

    If linked-in wanted to be honest they should have sent a personalized e-mail, like they do with many other things. saying first.

    “We are changing the privacy of your account to use some of your information profile for our ads. …..etc ”

    Even so it should have been strictly opt-in, that is the least what I expect of a “professional” social network.

    If they were worried not enough people would opt-in, then just nag them a little bit through e-mail, and/or give them some extra goodies like some free services for limited time.

    That they did it that way, and put forth such a lame excuse, make me firmly believe they put on purpose their monetizing needs before their customer trust.

    This just make me seriously considers to cancel my account, only hold me back the usefulness of groups in linked in, but that is not holding me much in something happens again.

    I use Slashdot for interesting discussion too, and they don’t pul outl this stunts. I think linked in just opened an opportunity to a new, serious and really for professionals social network. Just waiting for them to appear.

    I don’t need another Facebook

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