Linkedin online social networkSometimes in the tech and marketing world, you look at an acquisition, scratch your head and ask, “Why?” LinkedIn’s acquisition of marketing automation firm Bizo, announced late Tuesday, however, is not one of those times. The marriage helps LinkedIn further define its position as a marketing solutions provider, combining the programmatic and data management experience of Bizo with the premium publishing of LinkedIn and access to LinkedIn’s extensive audience that includes every business professional I know, and many more.

As a strategy junky, I can’t help but be impressed by the strategic linkages between LinkedIn’s business lines. Many of us use LinkedIn as our default contact list and its role as a personal professional networking tool has led it to become a juggernaut in the talent acquisition space. Add to this LinkedIn’s development as a publishing platform, allowing professionals and experts to share their voice with their peers. LinkedIn is now using these strengths to connect B2B companies with their target audience—be it a job applicant or marketing prospect—in a highly reliable manner. The need to keep our professional profiles accurate and share our opinions and expertise across this network means that LinkedIn knows to whom it’s showing an ad with high accuracy. Bizo brings a programmatic digital advertising platform to the table (with LinkedIn inventory already built in via API) and a data management platform (DMP) oriented towards modern nurture marketing. Further, LinkedIn strengthens Bizo’s targeting capabilities by serving as something of a Rosetta Stone for identity.

Aberdeen’s June 2014 Programmatic Advertising report shows that the top digital engagement strategy of Leaders is to increase digital audience targeting, something both LinkedIn and Bizo are well-positioned to do at both the individual and account level. That report also shows an increasing preference for programmatic advertising over traditional media placement. This trend is another reason why LinkedIn made a smart move; Bizo’s capabilities could bolster LinkedIn’s media business, furthering diversifying LinkedIn’s services beyond its own inventory. Bizo has also been strong proponent of integrating digital advertising with multi-step/channel lead nurture via integration with CRM, marketing automation and web content management (WCM) systems. This is a strategy favored by Leaders in our study.

Figure: Programmatic Budgets Getting the Growth

Programatic Budget Growth

This brings us to what I would qualify as the x-factor of this acquisition. It will be interesting to see if and how LinkedIn uses this acquisition to branch from pure supply side (i.e. media) into the buy side (i.e. the marketing department). Bizo provides a DSP/DMP tuned to B2B marketing. Here, LinkedIn will have to balance its role as a publisher, advertising aggregator, DMP and demand-side platform (DSP), no small feat. As an “independent” demand-side platform (DSP), Bizo didn’t have a horse in the CPM race; in fact programmatic advertising would tend to put downward pressure on display prices. As a media property itself, LinkedIn has a vested interest maintaining CPMs.

Regardless of how the acquisition progresses, LinkedIn’s interest in Bizo signals a growing trend in the B2B marketing world: strategic, programmatic digital advertising. LinkedIn has an opportunity to take advantage of the wide gap between companies’ interest in an integrated digital marketing strategy, and their ability to execute such a strategy effectively. How are the top-performing companies overcoming this gap? Learn how by reading “Digital Advertising: Programmed to Receive (More Budget)” today.