Capturing Consumer Attention in a Competitive Environment

Jonathan Lister, VP of LinkedIn's North American Sales
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What significant changes did the Social Networking industry witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?
I oversee Ad Sales for LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions business in the US, so a great deal of my time is spent working with brand marketing leaders who are looking for ways to positively engage with our members. This year, I’ve noticed a significant shift in how brands are meaningfully leveraging content in their efforts to convert casual engagement into leads. In general, brand marketers are increasingly inclined towards making content marketing a priority, as it’s become a critical part of their digital strategy.

Can you paint us the picture of the landscape for the Social Networking segment will change in 2014? What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?
The shift toward a mobile-first world is happening before our eyes. Thirty eight percent of LinkedIn members are actively accessing LinkedIn through mobile, and we expect to exceed 50percent by next year. Capturing consumer attention in this environment definitely requires unique and highly nuanced methods. We are approaching this mobile trend by being very thoughtful about how we build products that engage members, and also help brands share content in ways that work best for this environment.

How would customer spend change in 2014 for this segment? What makes you think customers will be buying more/less?
It’s unclear how customer spend will change per se, but we do know that how they make purchase decisions has absolutely changed. Consumers today are more in control and savvier than ever, with recent research showing that they are 60percent of the way through a buying cycle before reaching out to a marketer.
Because of this, more and more of my clients are balancing out their traditional marketing efforts with content marketing campaigns. In fact, marketers’ focus on content marketing has almost doubled from 2012 to 2013, with 34percent saying that content marketing is their leading marketing tactic (up from 18.9percent). 
Brands are using more content so they can enhance their presence and generate leads. For them, this is an opportunity to have an impact during the purchase process by having authentic conversations at scale, and capturing metrics that can be used to develop effective content.

What's in store for your company in 2014?
We want to continue to empower our 259 million members to be more productive and successful every time they visit LinkedIn. In the last year, we’ve experienced a content revolution that changed many aspects of how our members and customers experience LinkedIn. Content has become, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of our strategy as we grow. It will manifest itself in everything we do, including how we create and integrate content-based products into the broader LinkedIn experience.