LinkedIn has taken a big step towards matching tech giants like Google and Facebook in terms of advertising power. The Microsoft-owned business platform has announced the LinkedIn Audience Network. The new addition allows third-party apps and websites to access data for targeted advertising.

If you are thinking LinkedIn Audience Network is not a new service, you’d be right. The professional networking company has previously launched the feature in the past, in 2008 and 2015. However, this is an overhauled concept of the Audience Network and focuses on advertising.

Speaking to VentureBeat, LinkedIn product manager Divye Raj Khilnani explained how the new network differs:

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“The difference is that this a completely new experience that is focused on mobile and native formats. What’s more, today the LinkedIn Audience Network offers greater advertiser control and reporting.”

Through beta testing, 6,000 advertisers used the Audience Network. These users reported an increase of between three and 13 percent in unique impressions. Unique clicks were up by up to 80 percent.

Khilnani points out this means advertisers are seeing their campaigns reach more people. Previously, these potential customers would not have been accessible.

When Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in a massive $26 billion deal last year, one of the questions was how the company would monetize the social network. LinkedIn’s unique data was a massive asset that Microsoft would clearly use.

Rivals knew this, with Salesforce voicing its concerns over Microsoft’s potentially blocking LinkedIn data. Startup hiQ recently won a legal battle with LinkedIn over its rights to view data for its own third-party needs.

Microsoft knows that LinkedIn’s data is a treasure trove. Allowing advertisers to tap into it will allow the network to strongly compete against Google and Facebook. Those two rivals already rely heavily on an ad-centric revenue model.

LinkedIn Audience Network

The Audience Network targets LinkedIn users who have recently logged in. Sponsored content will appear in websites and mobile apps after that. Khilnani confirmed mobile apps are the chief target for the new network.

“The LinkedIn Audience Network is designed to increase your marketing footprint beyond the LinkedIn platform so you can extend your campaign’s reach, deliver on your budget more easily, and get your content in front of the right people, wherever they are,” added Khilnani.

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