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Audience networks and advertising

Just last week, LinkedIn announced its launch of a new audience network. After solidifying its place as a prominent social network for employers, business professionals, and job-seekers, it is improving its marketing strategy through targeted advertisements for users. An audience network, according to this TechCrunch article, is “a way for advertisers to buy inventory on a network of mobile sites and apps beyond LinkedIn itself…to broadcast their Sponsored Content.” Many other social media sites, such as Facebook and Google, have implemented such an audience network successfully, and LinkedIn is most likely hoping for a similar success to its business. It is indeed a profitable strategy for both LinkedIn and the advertising companies.

The audience network lets multiple companies promote to users who are more fitting for their target audience, based on an individual’s social network. The social network for an individual is the product of that user and any information that could relate to their personality and likes and dislikes based on their activity on a website. The ties that relate activity to the user forms a unique network for that user. Taking into account the audience network and the strengths of the user-activity ties, LinkedIn is able to calculate and decide the best advertisements to promote to that user.

While the targeted advertising is certainly beneficial to business, it brings to light the ethical issues related to information collection and dissemination by outside companies for profit. This is not a new controversy. Studies of how targeted advertisements affect consumer behavior show that specific products that we see not only change our perception of the product, but also how we purchase other products. The fact that such a customization can affect consumer behavior so significantly is an issue that will remain prevalent as long as social media giants and other websites continue to utilize forms of personal advertisement.



LinkedIn raises its ad tech game, launches Audience Network across ‘tens of thousands’ of sites and apps


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September 2017