On June 13, Microsoft announced it was buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Not since Google bought YouTube has an acquisition had as much potential to reshape the direction of the digital web experience. With LinkedIn’s deep reach into the B2B content marketing space and professional social networking, and Microsoft’s domination of productivity software and mobile- and cloud-first operating systems, the acquisition could reshape the web in the coming years.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had this to say about the logic behind the decision and possible first integrations (emphasis mine):
We are in pursuit of a common mission centered on empowering people and organizations… How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world. It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow. And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising.
The B2B content marketing and digital advertising possibilities are clear. In fact, marketers are already speculating on other changes we might see. Here are three we think are most likely in the short to medium term.
Personalized Bing Ads
Microsoft’s search engine Bing has recently eaten into Google Search’s market domination, capturing 20% of the market in April.
A strong next move for the secondary search engine may be account-based marketing (ABM) inside Bing. Just as Google can offer personalized search results and personalized promoted search results, Bing could potentially show such targeted advertising to logged in LinkedIn members.
LinkedIn Sponsored Updates Placements
LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates advertising allows the business to target that platform’s members with native content marketing campaigns. Access to Microsoft’s wide suite of products could propel the potential reach of such campaigns much farther.
From Office 365, including Outlook, Word, Access, and so on, to MSN, Skype, Bing, Dynamics, Cortana, Windows OS, and Windows Phone OS platforms, there are a lot of new places users could be seeing LinkedIn advertising.
In fact, this is already top of mind for LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who noted that “giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem” was discussed in the first meeting between LinkedIn and Microsoft heads. Weiner expects the partnership to unlock “significant untapped inventory” for Sponsored Updates.
LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator acquisition turned out to be a disappointment in a February earnings call. However, there’s speculation that Microsoft’s Bing Ads platform may provide the “resources” LinkedIn CFO Steven Sordello said Lead Accelerator lacked to scale properly.
That could mean improved retargeting for LinkedIn display ads across Microsoft platforms, thanks to the potential to merge Bing search history with LinkedIn’s ad platform. There’s even speculation this partnership could give Bing a leg up on the search game of Google.
Obviously, it’s still early, but the potential for improved B2B content marketing and display advertising opportunities is huge. As we’ve written previously, the opportunities to reach just the right audience LinkedIn are already great. With this new Microsoft partnership, we should see even more improvements.