In June 2016, tech giant Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for some $26 billion. A month later, Verizon announced its intention to buy Yahoo for almost $5 billion. Most casual internet users probably observed the takeovers without a passing thought. Digital marketers and business leaders, on the other hand, can either ride the wave of change or be crushed by it.
How might massive acquisitions like the Yahoo Verizon sale and the LinkedIn sale to Microsoft change the way you do business? It all depends on your ability to adapt.
Mergers in a Connected World
We all understand what mergers are. New, growing companies are swallowed up by competitors or firms in related sectors that want to leverage a new customer base or gain an advantage by expanding intelligently into new income streams. Online, however, the effects of buyouts propagate in different ways.
When one brick-and-mortar company purchases another, there’s often a noticeable delay before the child entity starts to bear the hallmarks of its new parent. Rebranding and implementing fresh operating policies takes time, so most transitions are gradual.
Modern web technology, however, makes it much quicker to roll out changes. Some of these, like potential Yahoo or LinkedIn logo upgrades, will be easy to adapt to. Other more fundamental changes in how these companies serve marketing content are almost certain to catch you off guard if you’re not ready for them.
Understanding the Digital Advertising Ecosystem
Consider Yahoo’s history. Although many people have long considered Yahoo just another place to search the web, it started out as a structured link directory.
By the time Yahoo actually began creating its own search tech around 2004, it was already somewhat behind Google, and it eventually defaulted to using Microsoft’s Bing search results. It did, however, learn from its competitors and offer a range of tools specifically geared towards advertisers.
Options like Yahoo Search Marketing, APT, Panama and BrightRoll employ a range of technologies to determine what constitutes quality ad content and how it finds its way to end users. The developments that drove these services forward were not only spurred by the need to stay competitive with other search providers but also the company’s business partnerships.
At one point, Yahoo even banded together with Microsoft and AOL to sell ads and compete with the Google behemoth. Marketers who decided to target their ads for the crossover, however, were later disappointed when the partnership went sour.
What this backstory indicates about the recent purchase of Yahoo is that algorithms aren’t the only factors that should be on your mind as a digital marketer. For instance, the entry cost of your campaigns could easily fluctuate as a result of new corporate-mandated pricing structures. Although Yahoo has partnered with ISPs like Verizon for more than a decade, this formalization of the bond may precede a more permanent shift in how ad content and services are delivered.
Do Parent Companies Decide Which Marketing Strategies Work?
The sale of LinkedIn only drives the point home further. The professional network’s existing PPC and targeted ad services are likely to evolve as Microsoft gains a vested interest in integrating Bing Ads and other technology into what LinkedIn users see.
Will the acquisition precipitate a total overhaul in what you get when you buy an ad campaign on LinkedIn? At first, it’s unlikely, but as the two entities become more closely entwined over time, your strategy will probably need to evolve.
Some industry observers cite the LinkedIn sale to Microsoft as evidence that Microsoft is investing more heavily in the business-to-business sector. For B2B marketers, this could potentially make LinkedIn a more lucrative place to advertise. Improved support and integration with Microsoft’s search technologies may also increase the ease of targeting individual consumers with uniform campaigns.
What If Things Head South?
Of course, mergers aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a very real possibility that either of these deals might go south, and if that occurs, your marketing strategies could suddenly become a lot more complex.
Suppose Microsoft fails with its LinkedIn experiment. It may slice the subsidiary up into its component parts and sell them to cut losses. Such events could ultimately result in the network becoming a challenge or outright dead end for advertisers who lose the campaign support they formerly enjoyed.
The same goes for the purchase of Yahoo. An influx of cash from Verizon may not be enough to save the decades-old company from running itself into the ground, and this could dramatically reduce your marketing reach.
It’s probable that Verizon will retain many of Yahoo’s core technology assets in any case. Still, you might one day find that the ads you pay for on the service are skewed to deliver content to specific subset markets, such as consumers who use Verizon as an ISP.
How Can Marketers Stay Ahead?
Whether the Yahoo Verizon sale or LinkedIn sale to Microsoft succeed or fail, one thing is certain. Changes are in the works, and you need to keep up.
It’s hard to predict what new leadership might deem worthwhile investments of time and capital. Longtime search tech standards could get put out to pasture. Or new algorithms might be added that change the game entirely. You may even gain access to an international market, as one of the parent companies seeks to bolster its fresh acquisition by feeding it new opportunities from abroad.
This is an exciting yet potentially confounding time to be a business owner or marketer. On one hand, you could attempt to keep pace with all the changes currently in the pipeline, as well as those that will undoubtedly pop up in short order. On the other hand, you could focus on actually running your business and leave digital marketing to those who eat, breathe and sleep SEO. To learn more about your options, get in touch with Higher Power SEO here, or reach out via social media.