Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn a Possible Boon for Display Advertising

LinkedInMicrosoft has announced its plans to acquire LinkedIn, and the immediate question in the office becomes “will it work”.

To answer this, look to experts. A June 2016 Harvard Business Review article highlighted “companies who focus more on giving than on taking do better than those who focus on maximizing their own position.”

How LinkedIn products help Microsoft is pretty clear:

  • LinkedIn profiles provide better user identities for Office 365
  • LinkedIn’s social graph gives Dynamics a giant boost
  • can help train users on Microsoft software

But, based on the HBR article’s premise, in order for this acquisition to succeed, we need to consider how Microsoft helps LinkedIn. HBR actually answered this question today, labeling the acquisition a likely failure.

LinkedIn Needs Help Expanding Ad Revenues

Many of the pundits condemning the acquisition fail to consider Microsoft’s experience in display advertising and how much it can significantly boost LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. While these pundits can be forgiven since Microsoft gave AOL control over their display ads, the interconnected (and, admittedly, convoluted) dealings of Microsoft and AOL include decent real estate for display advertising – sites such as the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, CrunchBase, and MSN.

And LinkedIn seems unable to expand its display network on its own. LinkedIn previously failed to expand its display network, and its stock price plummeted largely due to slower growth in its online advertising revenue. Certainly, Microsoft can do better.

Microsoft has been getting its ass kicked in search for decades. It certainly cannot feel good to get so utterly dominated. Google has also managed to wipe the floor with Microsoft in mobile with its acquisition and expansion of Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile failure.

Can Microsoft One Up Google

One area Google has failed is social networking. According to eMarketer, Only 13% of businesses and 20 million members use Google Plus monthly while over 90% of businesses and 100 million members use LinkedIn monthly. Microsoft has the opportunity to cash in on social networking ad revenue while sticking it to Google with the added benefit of stomping around in Google’s backyard.

LinkedIn remains the number one place for Account Based Marketing. LinkedIn has the greatest data set of users’ company, skill set, and interests. Despite the growth in predictive marketing vendors, Microsoft + LinkedIn is a serious competitor. Combine LinkedIn’s database with Microsoft’s search data and business intelligence capabilities, and you have powerful tools for targeting existing prospects and lookalikes.

If Microsoft does help right the ship and create a true competitor to Google’s AdSense while increasing the targeting options of its ad platform, Microsoft’s acquisition could be a major win for both Microsoft and B2B marketers.

About Mike Nierengarten
Mike Nierengarten is the President of Obility. He has worked in the online marketing space since 2004 and started Obility in 2011. B2B clients have always been his favorite, and so along with his business partner Nick he set out to build an online marketing company with the needs of B2B marketers in mind. He enjoys board sports, exploring restaurants, and lively discussions about the economy. He is also a passionate traveler. His long-term goals focus on spurring economic growth and addressing inequality in the Portland community. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.