LinkedIn recently acquired Bizo, a business-audience marketing tool that allows marketers to target professionals through display and sponsored content. With the $175-million acquisition, LinkedIn now has the capability to target audiences beyond its own platform. It also makes its own inventory more valuable to advertisers, since demographic and user data across devices and platforms collected through Bizo, could be used to service more relevant ads on LinkedIn itself.
Though, products and services utilising the Bizo platform are not expected to be available for a few more months, this is an important step for the B2B platform, one that is sure to enhance its reach and make its own inventory more attractive to advertisers. However, the company is keeping its plans with Bizo under wraps.
Fellow social networks like Facebook and Twitter have already made efforts in this direction through the launch of Facebook Exchange and Twitter’s acquisition of MoPub. LinkedIn VP of Product, David Thacker posted that the plan was to incorporate Bizo’s media solutions and multi-channel nurturing products into the LinkedIn portfolio, though Bizo’s data solutions business would not be carried over.
“Over the last few years, our marketing solutions products have helped companies build relationships with LinkedIn members all over the world. Adding Bizo’s offerings into our portfolio of content and mobile products will allow us to offer a wider range of solutions to meet our customers’ marketing objectives,” he wrote.
LinkedIn currently operates on the three fundamental pillars of identity, network and knowledge, says India Country Head Nishant Rao. The idea, he maintains, is for the company to project itself as a premier publishing platform for professionals on the internet. “We believe in quality and relevance. Our primary focus is on professionals or what we call the “Prosumer” or professional consumer. It is B2B but it is also premium B2C. We are not mass market and we do not aspire to be,” he explained.
Speaking about the Bizo acquisition, he said, “Bizo allows us to take a professional and move with them off the LinkedIn platform. We can now make even other websites more relevant for the professional since we have all the data about him. It is an exciting development and we will be rolling out products and services on it shortly.”
However, he did not agree that the acquisition was driven by only advertising considerations. “Not necessarily. We think about it slightly differently. It allows us to enrich the experience of our members, not just on our platform but on other websites as well. It is not so much about being an ad exchange or increasing our inventory but making things more relevant for our audience,” he said when asked about the potential for now targeting users with ads on third party platforms.
Currently, just about 25 per cent of LinkedIn’s total revenues are through advertising solutions. According to its Q2’14 filing, revenue from marketing solutions products totaled $106 million, an increase of 44 per cent, compared to the second quarter of 2013. In contrast, revenue from talent solutions products totaled $322 million, an increase of 49 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2013 and accounting for 60 per cent of the total revenues.
“This is a great move by LinkedIn,” said Lavin Punjabi, President , Affinity, an ad network. “It gives their slowest growing unit (advertising) a serious boost. The synergies are endless, but the biggest takeaways are that LinkedIn advertisers (who spend $400m a year compared to Bizo’s odd $50m a year) can extend their budgets on to Bizo’s cross-channel media solutions like display, email and social. LinkedIn has access to audience data, which can ’supercharge’ Bizo’s media solutions ‘engine’. For marketers, this is a great opportunity to reach professional audiences at any point in the purchase funnel and ultimately close the loop with analytics.”
Currently LinkedIn is the world’s largest B2B network with 313 million users. Around 28 million of these are based in India, which is the second largest user base for the company after the United States.