Microsoft/LinkedIn: A Giant Email Append

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Think of it as a giant email append, combined with paid search/display and native ads. It does take a bit of interpretation to see what impact Microsoft buying LinkedIn will have on marketers, but not too much.

For instance, all users may notice what an NPR speaker mentioned after the announcement on Monday — that Outlook and LinkedIn users may no longer have to toggle between platforms in order to study directly in their Outlook meeting reminders about the other participants’ titles, job responsibilities and whether they have common interests, such as following the same LinkedIn influencers.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

A Giant Email Append

In its press release about the deal, LinkedIn mentioned it had “more than 433 million members worldwide.” Members put in email addresses — sometimes more than one per account. Then they add a lot more information about their careers, post updates and generally volunteer a lot of information about themselves. In the professional cloud, Microsoft, they’re often performing work tasks that now add even more data to those email addresses, creating even bigger user profiles across Microsoft and LinkedIn. That can aid marketers in targeting prospects.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner puts it in an email he sent to staff and then posted on his LinkedIn account, all of this extra data has many possible uses. Among the opportunities are: “Massively scaling the reach and engagement of LinkedIn by using the network to power the social and identity layers of Microsoft’s ecosystem of over 1 billion customers. Think about things like LinkedIn’s graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.”

As Thorin McGee, editor-in-chief of Target Marketing, pointed out yesterday — think of how well all of this can work in account-based marketing.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

On Monday, Business Insider paraphrases Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as saying “Microsoft’s Office software suite could be combined with LinkedIn’s network in the future, such as the ability for Microsoft to serve up suggestions for a specialized expert through LinkedIn when its software recognizes you’re trying to complete a specific task.” That leads us into the next possibility …

Cross-Platform Paid Search Results/Ads?

Marketers already know the LinkedIn home page serves users paid display ads and sponsored content (see the Native Ads subhead that follows). But the acquisition may mean advertisers can reach business professionals in the cloud, in some capacity. LinkedIn is even planning to do so itself.

Here’s what Weiner posts as possibilities due to the acquisition:

“Accelerating our objective to transform learning and development by deeply integrating the Learning solution in Office alongside some of the most popular productivity apps on the planet (note: Six of the top 25 most popular courses are related to Microsoft products).”

“Realizing LinkedIn’s full potential to truly change the way the world works by partnering with Microsoft to innovate on solutions within the enterprise that are ripest for disruption, e.g., the corporate directory, company news dissemination, collaboration, productivity tools, distribution of business intelligence and employee voice, etc.”

Native Ads

When LinkedIn users pull up their news feeds, they see sponsored content. They also see native ads in their interest areas, arranged in an algorithm LinkedIn believes is most relevant for each user — including which of the influencers and “connections” users see first.

Now, there’s more. Weiner says the acquisition is: “Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory [and] redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics.”

Nadella talks about how marketers pushing native ads and publishers can get more benefits.

“LinkedIn will also be able to plug into Office to detect the kind of project you’re working on,” paraphrases Business Insider, “which the social network will then use to surface relevant articles to infuse into your LinkedIn news feed. … ‘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.’ ”

What do you think, marketers? What sounds like the greatest opportunity for you? Does the recruitment strategy Weiner mentions in his LinkedIn post intrigue you? Here’s what he says is an opportunity brought on by the acquisition: “Expanding beyond recruiting and learning and development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.”

Please respond in the comments section below.

Heather Fletcher is a freelance reporter for Adweek. She covers performance and direct marketing.