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LinkedIn has launched a new way for marketers to target individuals at specific companies on the professional social network by using their sales data. With LinkedIn Account Targeting, you can tailor Sponsored Updates or Sponsored InMail campaigns to a specific list of accounts, allowing you reach the most engaged people. This offering is the first part of the company’s Audience Match platform.

To utilize this feature, marketers provide LinkedIn with a list of up to 30,000 companies from which custom segments can be created. The company will then cross-reference the list against more than 8 million Company Pages in order to create an account target segment based on the match. Once the system has identified the common denominator, LinkedIn will create a new category specific to the customer’s area of interest, which can be targeted using Sponsored Updates or Sponsored InMail. Additional filtering, such as by job function and seniority, can also be applied.

This is different from LinkedIn’s previous offering, which compiled up to 100 companies into a list that could be entered into the site and segmented manually, company by company. With today’s launch, the process has become more automated and includes a much larger sample size. The goal is to provide marketers with a platform that “accurately targets influencers and empowers them to deliver relevant content that translates into meaningful results.”

Account Targeting is just the first part of what will eventually become LinkedIn’s Audience Match platform. Russ Glass, the company’s head of products for its marketing solutions, told VentureBeat that LinkedIn’s aim is to help marketers engage with professionals as effectively as possible. Right now, it’s going with account-based targeting, but other capabilities will be added in the future.

“You can’t get the scale of business professionals anywhere else than what you can get on LinkedIn,” Glass said. “[Account Targeting] allows marketers to both ensure that they’re focusing on the right accounts, but also layer in all the goodness that LinkedIn can bring from a targeting and ecosystem perspective.”

“Because member and company information is tied to one’s professional and public brand, it is likely to be up-to-date and accurate,” LinkedIn stated. “We also have a platform for opportunity, so senior management and purchase influencers are more accessible, making sharing information a lot easier, particularly in the B2B context. We’re the only social platform that can target by company.  Our customers have the capability to target more than 6.8 million C-level executives, more than 40 million decision makers, and more than 61 million senior level influencers.”

LinkedIn Account Targeting is only available for those who have signed up for managed services. Glass said that support for self-service customers is on the company’s roadmap and could roll out later this year.

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