LinkedIn is going to give businesses a better idea of who’s visiting their sites, such as those visitors’ job titles, company names and locations. Exciting as that sounds, anyone dreaming of seeing how many Bay Area-based CEOs of internet technology companies with more than 1,000 employees have visited their site’s home page may want to take a breather. LinkedIn is putting its audience data on the table, but it is not laying out an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Over the next few weeks, LinkedIn will roll out a feature called Website Demographics that will break down businesses’ site audiences based on information from those visitors’ LinkedIn profiles. The Microsoft-owned, business-centric social network has been testing the feature with more than 220 companies and is opening it up for free to any company through its browser-based ad-buying platform, Campaign Manager.
LinkedIn’s Website Demographics will break down businesses’ web audiences by eight categories: job title, industry, job seniority, job function, company, company size, location, country. Businesses will be able to filter that aggregated and anonymized information by different date ranges: the past 30 days, the past seven days, this month, the previous month, today, yesterday, all time or a custom date range.
As a result, a marketing technology provider hunting for new clients will be able to see that employees at Company X comprised a substantial share of the page views for the firm’s About page in the past week. Or an IT firm that specializes in finance would be able to see that over the past month the number of home page views from people working in the advertising industry has tripled. Or an ad agency will be able to see that its blog posts offering social marketing tips are mostly viewed by people who work at other ad agencies.
Website Demographics is the latest example of LinkedIn opening up its data across more than 500 million registered users to marketers and allowing marketers to marry that data with their own. It’s built atop the same technology that underpins the conversion tracking that LinkedIn rolled out last year and the website retargeting option that it added this year: the LinkedIn Insight Tag, a tracking mechanism LinkedIn uses to monitor a third-party site’s audience and tie those visitors to their LinkedIn profiles. But while LinkedIn is able to receive and relay a comprehensive look at who’s visiting businesses’ sites, the Website Demographics view isn’t exactly crystal clear.
First, Website Demographics only measures page views, not unique visitors, and it only reports those page views as a percentage share, not raw figures. Instead of a business seeing how many people from Company X visited a given page on its site, it would only be able be see that people from Company X accounted for 30 percent of the views of that page.
LinkedIn is basing Website Demographics on page views and only breaking out audience segments by share of page views in order to protect user data, said Sudeep Cherian, director of product marketing at LinkedIn Marketing Services, the company’s ad division. Protecting user data is also why at least 300 LinkedIn users must have visited a page or group of pages on a site before LinkedIn will report the Website Demographics for that page or group of pages.
Second — and also to protect user data — businesses cannot cross-reference audience categories. Instead of a business being able to overlay its site audience by industry and location to see that a given page is popular among health-care professionals in Germany, the business would only be able to see that it’s popular among health-care professionals and that it’s popular among people in Germany. The business would have to decide whether the correlation means it’s popular among health-care professionals in Germany.
Third, Website Demographics only tracks a site’s desktop audience. That’s because the feature relies on LinkedIn’s Insight Tag. When a person logs in to LinkedIn on their desktop browser, LinkedIn places a cookie on that browser to track their browsing. Then for 30 days anytime that person uses that desktop browser to visit a site that uses the Insight Tag, LinkedIn can recognize the person on that site and associate them with their LinkedIn profile.
To access Website Demographics once it becomes available, a business must have added LinkedIn’s Insight Tag to its site. The business must also have created a website audience using LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences tool, which enables businesses to specify a page or group of pages on their sites for LinkedIn to monitor using the Insight Tag. Provided that a business has added the Insight Tag to a page on its site and has created a website audience to monitor the traffic to that page — either individually or in a group with other pages — it will be able to view the Website Demographics for that page.