Microsoft’s announcement this week to purchase LinkedIn for $26.2 billion had marketers doing double takes. The deal marks Microsoft's largest acquisition in history, and experts say it could send ripples through the marketing industry.
In this week’s “CMO.com Wants to Know,” we asked executives about the latter. Here’s what they told us.
Yariv Drori, VP of programmatic ad operations at MultiView, said:
LinkedIn, with all its popularity, has been struggling to create the same value to marketers that Facebook has, and as a result it has struggled financially. This merger happened now because LinkedIn is weak, not because it is strong. For Microsoft, this network could be a logical augmentation to its CRM suite; a good integration between Microsoft Dynamics and LinkedIn could mean better insight and networking for lead generation and follow-up engagement. It could also open the door for Microsoft to dominate the recruiting sphere, which is one of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths.
Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder, said:
Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn has the potential to reshape the entire B2B marketing world as well as CRM database marketing industry. Microsoft now is a major source of deterministic data for targeting real professionals and can grow that data set with its ubiquitous Office suite that has moved to the cloud. In addition, Microsoft can now begin to mount a serious challenge to Salesforce by graphing on LinkedIn to its CRM product. CMOs will now be hearing from Microsoft in a new way–no longer selling media but rather data and databases.
Eric Franchi, co-founder of Undertone, said:
This is a deal that few saw coming but makes total sense when you think of a world that is cloud-based, social, and data-enabled. The implications for marketing are significant, and we could see the re-emergence of Microsoft as a result. Think of the potential for integrating some key Office 365 products and LinkedIn: Outlook is the obvious example. When did we connect, and how are we connected? PowerPoint [and the potential to] publish to SlideShare is another. It’s also a really interesting data-driven advertising opportunity given the professional social graph LinkedIn owns.
Jamie Tedford, founder and CEO of Brand Networks, said:
Microsoft’s acquisition of Linkedin creates a huge opportunity for marketers and puts Microsoft in the position to create the largest B2B data management platform in the world. Microsoft’s services already reach a huge, extremely qualified audience of professionals who use Office and other tools. It helps brands bring more relevance to their advertising strategy on Linkedin, which is already aimed at professionals seeking information from its global professional graph related to contacts, job hunting, career growth, educational tools, and more. For Linkedin advertisers, that’s a targeting gold mine.
Marc Johnson, CMO and GM of Bombora, said:
For now, [the effect on marketing] will be very little. All the majors–Microsoft, especially have learned the costly lessons of botched acquisitions (Yammer, AQuantive, Nokia, etc.). So while Redmond is likely to leave LinkedIn alone for now, there will be minor benefit for marketers as LinkedIn will be free from the relentless pressure of being a public company. This breathing room should allow them to focus again on innovation and customer value.
Longer term, the price of the deal points to the value of B2B data and the importance of winning the multitrillion-dollar business-to-business market. Marketers will see advertising products that deliver both relevance and scale through the combination of Microsoft and Linkedin identity data.
The difference is that people have to provide information to use Microsoft products for work. With LinkedIn, people manage their careers and professional relationships and want to provide data. Merging these data sets and encompassing personal, professional, and organization motivations will make a potent cocktail and a big win for marketers and Microsoft.
Matt Singer, VP of marketing at Jobvite, said:
Microsoft is entering the cloud CRM market, and this is a big step toward SaaS playing a much bigger role in marketing relative to media and advertising. If they’re able to use it well, this could be a really valuable purchase.