LinkedIn takes on traditional news outlets for ad bucks

How LinkedIn wants to challenge traditional media

Social media companies are evolving fast. Gone are the days of just chatting to friends and uploading photos; now, in bid to capture ad dollars from traditional publishers, tech giants want to offer everything from payment services, music streaming – and even news.

Facebook, for instance, is reportedly holding talks with a number of publishers to host their news articles directly through the social media company's website, according to the The New York Times.

It comes as LinkedIn – the social media platform aimed at professionals – insists that content is king.

"I think we get lumped in with all these networks…. We actually compete with more traditional media," Penry Price, vice president of marketing solutions at LinkedIn, told CNBC in a TV interview on Wednesday, discussing how the social media company is battling against the likes of the "Economist" or "Financial Times" for advertising.

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He stressed that the company was ramping up the amount of original content on the site.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn expanded its long-form post feature to allow more than 230 million English-speaking members to write posts, treating the platform more like a blog. In 2014, users were posting 50,000 pieces a week.

Advertising around content means big bucks for LinkedIn. Revenue from marketing solutions hit $153 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, an increase of 56 percent from the same time the previous year. It now accounts for nearly a quarter of the company's total revenue.

"Content has changed the whole reason for people to be on the site… more and more content is continually published," Price said. "From a monetization side…we are finding our fastest growing product now actually in the ads business, for us is around sponsored content."

Publishers 'nervous'

The content-creation aspect of LinkedIn highlights the broader trend of social media companies looking to generate and host content on their site.

Facebook's reported plans mean that some news content would become native news feed posts – basically meaning that users wouldn't have to click away from Facebook to read the content.

The social media giant has also ramped up the amount of video content displayed in users' newsfeed. A blog post by the social networking giant in January said that in one year, the number of video posts per person has increased by 75 percent, with a daily average of 1 billion views per day since June 2014.

This focus on content makes sense, according to analysts, who say it is appealing to advertisers, but might ruffle the feathers of traditional media stalwarts.

"In LinkedIn's case, a lot of the revenue is from advertising. It is about building engagement with the audience and monetizing that. If you are giving people more reasons to visit LinkedIn and making it more useful you ultimately can grow the audience and increase advertising," Ian Maude, online media analyst at Enders Analysis, told CNBC by phone.

"There are lot of traditional media companies out there who have mixed feelings about it. They might be slightly nervous about it, but it's very difficult to ignore."

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that LinkedIn was talking about competing for advertising content.