Win-win for advertisers and communities

Rebecca Weeks Watson · July 23, 2009 · Short URL:

New marketplace, Linqia, provides ad sales leads to relevant social networks

How do advertisers and media buyers find niche social communities which their target-customers participate in? Not easily, that’s for sure.

It’s time-consuming to stay up-to-date on newly launched communities, and then tedious to search for the right salesperson’s contact information. But recently, a new online marketplace called Linqia emerged that enables advertisers, or any business trying to market through social media, to sort through various communities, find ones that are relevant to its product, and then connect with the communities actual decision makers for a small fee.

Advertisers save time and find new venues to interact with their target market. Communities gain leads for free, and increase their revenue. Sounds like a win-win to me.

I asked Maria Sipka, Linqia’s founder, to explain how the marketplace works and who’s currently using it. Prior to Linqia, Maria Sipka spent two years at XING initially as their COO responsible for the company’s international expansion and then as the Director of Community Development building and monetizing the company’s group offerings. She launched one of XING’s flagship groups ‘Global Business Women’ attracting more than 15,000 women from around the world.

Watson: What types of filters can advertisers use to determine an appropriate social network for their brand?

Sipka: The primary filters an advertiser uses are language and country. Then filters such as number of members, level of engagement/activity, affinity or interest, age and gender are important. What often doesn't get considered are the social network’s interests or what types of formats they can accept. It wasn't until we started speaking to the key decision makers working at social networks when we discovered filters that were important to them.

Watson: Who are some of your current social network clients?

Sipka: Within two months of launching, 73 social networks registered including XING, ecademy, Piczo, Second Life as well as  some very interesting niche social networks such as Lesbian Lips and The Cleavage Club. Our aim is to register another 130 social networks in the next month before we shift our efforts to sourcing commercial partners/advertisers. What's fascinating about these numbers is the reach to members. Just the 73 social networks alone reach over 73 million people! It's very attractive to companies and brands wishing to reach many people through just a few decision makers. We've run pilot campaigns with T-Mobile who offered free prepaid SIM cards, a survey for FreeAgentCentral, and shopping vouchers for BuyVIP.

Watson: What sized fee does an advertiser have to pay Linqia to send its message to one key decision maker?

Sipka: A commercial partner pays anywhere between €20 for smaller social networks and €100 for the larger social networks. The fee is performance-based, so if the social network does not respond the advertiser pays nothing. We’re inviting select commercial partners to feature their opportunities where again we are paid on performance, in most cases a percentage of the sale or a lead fee. In many cases, advertisers ask Linqia to help them package their offerings before they send their request to the social networks they've selected.

Watson:  Most social networks with a significant audience already have their own ad sales team. Does your marketplace provide a lead generation platform for these salespeople, or does it compete with them?

Sipka: That's correct, especially the larger social networks like XING and ecademy. We compliment their existing lead flow or as a business development arm. Our focus is not to only register the larger social networks; our preference is actually to attract niche, smaller social networks who are struggling with the sales aspect of their business. We filter and review each opportunity being sent to registered social networks and to date, they've been extremely pleased to receive potential new ways to generate revenue, increase engagement or save money. Since there's no obligation to respond to an opportunity and the platform is free, there's very little downside except for a few minutes to review the opportunity.

Watson: How are you raising awareness for, and registration in, your marketplace?

Sipka: It's a pure relationships business. We've spent six years developing relationships with social networks and 90 percent of those who’ve registered have either been referred or we've contacted directly. We speak to each social network individually to understand deeply what their needs are, the challenges they face and how we can help them.

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