Penry Price, a former top sales executive at Google and the ad-targeting start-up Media6Degrees, has been named LinkedIn’s vice-president of global sales. The hire is already being likened to the arrival of Carolyn Everson at Facebook and Adam Bain at Twitter, and signals a flexing of LinkedIn’s commercial muscle.
In the summer, Josh Graff, who has led LinkedIn’s EMEA sales since March 2011, told Campaign that monetising the site is "often led by thought leadership and sharing trends, rather than products and services".
Slowly but surely, LinkedIn is evolving from the place you used to visit to upload your CV and polish your professional profile into a media destination in itself. In July, it introduced Sponsored Updates, allowing businesses that create their own content on pages to display ads to all 225 million LinkedIn users.
This follows its influencer programme, featuring posts from business leaders including Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and, of course, Sir Martin Sorrell. Only last week, WPP’s boss posted about the "ever-increasing importance of big data and technology to our business", but this rings equally true when spun on its head.
'LinkedIn is evolving from the place you used to visit to upload your CV into a media destination in itself'
Tech companies – even ones with multiple revenue streams, such as LinkedIn’s recruitment services and premium subscriptions – hanker after ad pounds. Throughout the past couple of years, both Everson and Bain have been at pains to stress the vital role brands and agencies will play in any future success.
What is also becoming clear is that, when it comes to social, mobile is where it’s at. All user figures confirm the trend and there are now sure signs that spend is starting to follow. One of the most striking nuggets in ZenithOptimedia’s global forecast this week – alongside the fact that it was the first time the quarterly report has not been forced to downgrade its outlook since June 2012 – was the phenomenal growth of mobile spend. Smartphone and tablet ads are growing at seven times the rate of desktop internet ads.
UK mobile display is expected to rise 35 per cent to £323 million next year, and mobile search by 63 per cent to £1.26 billion. Trends, no doubt, that are being followed closely at a fledgling business on New Oxford Street being led by David Sear, whom we interview here.