Amazon Again Topped Q4 Global Smart Speaker Sales Followed by Google and Baidu According to Strategy Analytics. Smart Speaker Shipments Set New Record.

Amazon shipped 15.8 million smart speakers in Q4 2019 capturing a 28.3% device market share and the top spot globally
Google followed Amazon with a 24.9% share, well ahead of third-place Baidu with a 10.6% share
The largest Chinese smart speaker makers increased shipments by 137% over Q4 2018 and collectively shipped more devices than Amazon in Q4 2019 which a year earlier had more than doubled the trio’s totals
Apple also saw modest market share gains though is well behind all of its U.S. and Chinese rivals
Amazon and Google dominated global smart speaker sales in Q4 2019 combining to sell over half of the 55.7 million devices sold in the quarter according to U.S.-based research firm Strategy Analytics. That is a 44.7% rise in global device sales over Q4 2018. With 15.8 million devices shipped and 28.3% market share, Amazon maintained its nearly unbroken lead in global smart speaker shipments by quarter. Google delivered 13.9 million devices in Q4 and a 24.9% global share.

Strategy Analytics also pointed out that 2019 brought record-setting smart speaker shipments totaling 146.9 million units. That was up 70% from about 86 million units in the full year 2018. What was the catalyst behind the record-setting quarter and year? David Watkins, a director and analyst at Strategy Analytics commented:

“Consumer appetite for smart speakers remained undimmed during the all-important Q4 period as newly launched devices with improved feature sets and audio performance helped drive record quarterly shipments. Consumers across the world were once again enticed by scarcely believable deals from leading brands such as Google, Amazon, Baidu and Alibaba, while Google in particular stepped up its giveaway promotional activity in partnership with brands such as YouTube and Spotify.”

Despite Amazon’s and Google’s strong sales performance, both lost market share in the quarter compared to the previous year. Amazon fell from 35.5% to 28.3% and Google from 30.0% to 24.9%. “In 2019, Amazon and Google retained their strong leadership positions in North America and Europe, where they accounted for more than three quarters of all smart speaker sales,” said David Mercer, a vice president at Strategy Analytics. “However, their shares fell slightly in both regions, confirming our user research findings that buyers are prepared to invest in other brands.”

SMART CHINA RISING
The next three global leaders in smart speaker shipments are all from China and each saw a rise in device market share. Baidu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi together shipped 16.1 million smart speakers in Q4 2019. That combined figure is up 137% over Q4 2018. In that quarter, the three Chinese smart speaker leaders collectively shipped only about 50% of the devices from Amazon but in 2019 they shipped about 2% more. No Chinese company alone sold nearly what Amazon and Google did in Q4 2019. However, growth rates for the big three from China ranged from 94% – 171% compared to 16% and 20% for Amazon and Google respectively.

Chinese device makers individually shipped about one-third that of Amazon. In Q4 2018, that figure was closer to one-sixth. Continued growth in China is likely to shrink this gap further in 2020. However, it may not have much impact on Amazon directly since the company doesn’t sell smart speakers in China and the Chinese device makers are not marketing devices with their own voice assistants where Amazon Alexa devices are sold. It is worth noting that Xiaomi is even partnering with Amazon, Google, and Apple to offer Alexa, Assistant, and Siri to consumers in India through its latest smart speaker.

APPLE RISING?
Apple also saw growth in 2019. Smart speaker shipments from the iPhone maker in Q4 2019 were up by one million units over the previous year and that helped HomePod’s market share bump up from 4.1% to 4.7%. It’s not the type of market share Apple commands for iPhone, Watch, and AirPods, but it is good news for the company given the 65% growth rate despite offering a device with fewer voice assistant features.

U.S. In-car Voice Assistant Users Rise 13.7% to Nearly 130 Million, Have Significantly Higher Consumer Reach Than Smart Speakers – New Report

Total in-car voice assistant users in the U.S. is almost 130 million with 83.8 million active monthly
This total reflects a 13.7% rise in users over the past 15 months and is more than 45% higher than the number of smart speaker device owners
About 51% of U.S. adults have tried using a voice assistant while driving and about one-third have converted to monthly users
U.S. adults that have used a voice assistant in the car rose 13.7% between September 2018 and January 2020 to 129.7 million drivers according to a new report by Voicebot.ai in collaboration with research sponsor Cerence. That amounts to about one million new in-car voice assistant users per month since our previous survey. Monthly and daily active users also rose during the period to 83.8 million and 29.7 million U.S. adults respectively.

It is worth noting that these figures for in-car voice assistant use are far higher than current smart speaker use. In fact, there are almost as many monthly active users of voice assistants while driving in the U.S. as there are total smart speaker owners. The population reach of voice assistants in the car is over 45% higher than through smart speakers. Sanjay Dhawan, CEO of Cerence, commented on the findings:

“In the case of voice assistant adoption, it could be said that a rising tide floats all boats – usage, comfort, and affinity for voice assistants in the car drives the same in the home, and vice-versa. But increased usage in the car over the home points to growing interest among drivers in leveraging voice-powered technologies for a safer on-road experience. Voice in the home is useful but unessential, but in the car, with an increasing amount of distractions, buttons, and obstacles to navigate, it’s critical.”

These findings are from a nearly 40-page report with 19 charts and tables. The In-Car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report 2020 is Voicebot’s second edition and includes results from a national consumer survey of 1,090 U.S. adults along with an analysis of six automaker initiatives, eight in-car voice solutions from seven companies, and four automotive tailored apps and services.

DOWNLOAD NOW
MORE THAN HALF HAVE TRIED AND ONE-THIRD ARE REGULAR USERS
The report also found that more than half of U.S. adults have tried a voice assistant while driving and one-third said they were monthly users of the technology. Adoption figures suggest that voice assistant use in cars falls between smart speaker and smartphone use of the services. Smartphones are still the most frequently used surface for voice assistant access.

Voice in the home is useful but unessential, but in the car, with an increasing amount of distractions, buttons, and obstacles to navigate, it’s critical

Monthly active users of voice assistants in the car was measured at 64.6% and daily active users were 22.9%. Smart speaker owners were more likely to also be monthly and daily active users of voice assistants in the car at 72.7% and 24.9% respectively. Woman were slightly more likely to be in-car voice assistant users than men.

You can see a breakdown of all of the data in the report released today which is available as a free download here.

Over 60% of Car Buyers That Have Used Voice Assistants Factor Availability into Purchase Decision

Over three-fifths of consumers that have used a voice assistant while driving say they factor in assistant availability when considering a new car purchase. This finding from the In-Car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report 2020 rose slightly from a 2019 study when a nearly identical result was registered. The 2020 edition includes responses from a representative sample of 1,090 U.S. adults and was conducted in January of this year.

While 37% of drivers that have used voice in the car don’t consider the presence of an assistant when car shopping, 63% do so with 13% saying it is a significant consideration. Another 7.3% saying they won’t purchase a car that does not include their favored voice assistant. Eight percent of U.S. adults didn’t care what assistant was available in the car but it was important that the vehicle support voice interaction. Once a consumer uses voice in the car, they tend to want it in future automobiles.

Drivers’ purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by the availability of enhanced technology features like voice assistants in the car.

Consumer interest in voice assistant availability may be influenced by the rising use of smart speakers. Over 70% of smart speaker owners factor voice assistant availability into their car purchase decisions. This is consistent with other data that suggests voice use through smart speakers is a catalyst for using assistants outside the home as well.

AN INCREASING EMPHASIS ON THE CABIN EXPERIENCE
Sentiment may also be influenced by advertising in recent years. In 2019, Mercedes-Benz dedicated an entire Super Bowl ad to promote its embedded Hey Mercedes assistant. However, automakers were promoting voice assistants even before then as data from a 2018 Voicebot consumer survey indicated. Sanjay Dhawan, CEO of Cerence, a sponsor of the 2020 study, commented:

“In the last several years, we’ve seen our automaker customers begin to prioritize the experience inside the car alongside the technical aspects of the driving experience. It’s obviously paying off as drivers’ purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by the availability of enhanced technology features like voice assistants in the car.”

A CAR PURCHASE “TIEBREAKER”
The most used voice assistant type while driving in 2020 are the embedded assistants offered by automakers. That was followed by Bluetooth connections to smartphones which can be used to access Siri on iOS and Google Assistant for Android. Apple’s CarPlay was third. No single voice assistant is dominant in the car today with about 21% saying they have used more than one assistant while driving. Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing and host of the annual Voice of the Car Summit, said about the results:

“We’ve seen voice tech’s role in automotive purchasing decisions move swiftly and decisively into the ‘tiebreaker’ role. No one buys a car because it has Alexa or Google Assistant in it, but they absolutely will decide between one or more equivalent cars based on how the in-car voice assistant aligns with them. One result of this has been a move by some automakers to allow multiple voice assistants in the car, in an effort to eliminate the potential for lost sales.”

About 42% of consumers in the study said they would be more likely to use voice assistants while driving if they had access to multiple assistants with about 15% saying they would be “much more likely.” Automakers profiled in the report such as Mercedes, BMW, and Ford all enable multiple voice assistant connectivity options for drivers.

The finding of consumer car purchase criteria is one of 19 charts and tables in the 40-page report on voice used in the car. You can access the full study through the button below.

Microsoft’s Earbuds Put the Office 365 in Your Ears

MICROSOFT AUDIO OFFICE
The Surface Earbuds offer a variation on the usual features of wireless earbuds. Each rests inside the ear behind a sizeable white disk without filling the space to the ear canal. The buds contain two microphones, one to block background noise and one to detect the user’s voice. Once the Surface Earbuds are paired by Bluetooth with a device, tapping and holding either disk will activate the default voice assistant on that device. The Surface Headphones Microsoft launched last year are limited to using Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant, but the Surface Earbuds work with the Alexa, Bixby, Google Assistant, and Siri voice assistants as well. Changing the default voice assistant on the device will do the same for the earbuds.

A major way the Surface Earbuds differ from competitors, however, is the productivity applications. When connected to a PC or mobile device running Windows, the earbuds can be used to access and run Office 365. Users can dictate into a Word document, read and respond to emails on Outlook, or run a PowerPoint presentation. The wearer can perform real-time commentary and advance the slides in the presentation by tapping on the earbuds. The speech-to-text software even allows for live translation into another language.

Based on the advertising copy, Microsoft does seem to view its earbuds as an all-day accessory to be worn at the office. The non-sealed covering of the ear means the wearer isn’t totally isolated, while also making it more comfortable for longer wear, such as at the office. The batteries last a full workday, up to eight hours of continual use and up to 24 hours when the charging case is full, with an hour of battery charged for every ten minutes the earbuds are plugged in.

HIGH-COST, HIGH-STAKES
The technology, both hardware and software, within the earbuds is cutting-edge, according to Microsoft. Advanced tech is going to be necessary just as a start to convince people to spend more than a hundred dollars above other high-end earbuds. Apple’s $159 AirPods might seem like a real bargain in comparison and that’s before considering some of the newer varieties of earbuds soon to hit the market. For instance, Amazon’s just-announced Echo Buds are $129, but still include features, such as active noise cancellation, that the Surface Earbuds lack.

Microsoft is rolling out the Surface Earbuds right as the market is really taking off. From the super-premium earbuds Jabra announced last month to LG’s new earbuds for the South Korean market, the competition in the hearables market is heating up. But, Microsoft lacks the built-in potential customer base of a smartphone maker like Apple or even a smart speaker developer like Amazon. The compatibility with Cortana is not likely to be enough on its own to entice the average person browsing for a good deal into buying the earbuds. Only the integration with Microsoft’s productivity products gives the Surface Earbuds an edge over its competitors. But, it will require a very impressive PowerPoint presentation to convince people that these wireless earbuds are worth a listen.

Amazon’s roadmap for Alexa is scarier than anything Facebook or Twitter is doing

Amazon has big plans for its virtual assistant. One day, perhaps sooner than you think, Alexa will take a proactive role in directing our lives. It’ll interpret our data, make decisions for us, and summon us when it has something to say.

Rohit Prasad, the scientist in charge of Alexa‘s development, recently gave MIT Technology Review’s Karen Hao one of the most terrifying interviews in modern journalism. We know how dangerous it is to let bad actors run amok with AI and our data – if you need a refresher, recall the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

That’s not to say Prasad is a bad actor or anything but a talented scientist. But he and the company he works for probably have access to more of our data than ten Facebooks and Twitters combined. And, to paraphrase Kanye West, no one person or company should have all that power.

Hao writes:

Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, has now revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.

The idea of Alexa being an omnipresent companion looking to orchestrate your life should probably alarm you. But, for now, the work Prasad and the Alexa team are doing isn’t scary on its own merit. If you’re one of the eight or nine people on the planet who has never interacted with Alexa, you’re both missing out and not really missing out. Virtual assistants, today, are equal parts miraculously intuitive and frustratingly limited.

With one interaction, you’ll say “Alexa, play some music” and the assistant will ‘randomly’ select a playlist that touches the depths of your soul, as if it knew better than you did what you needed to hear.

But the next time you use it, you might find yourself in a three-minute-long argument over whether you wanted to listen to music by Cher or purchase a beige chair (with free two-day shipping).

From a consumer point-of-view, it’s hard to imagine Alexa becoming so useful that we’d come running when it summons us. But Alexa‘s primary mission will always be to gather data. Simply put: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are all trillion dollar companies because data is the most valuable resource in the world, and Alexa is among the world’s greatest data collectors.

Once Alexa stops listening for commands and starts making suggestions, it means Amazon‘s no longer focused on building a handful of giant training databases comprised of data from hundreds of millions of users. Instead, it indicates that it’s focused on building millions of training databases composed of data gleaned from single individuals or very small user groups.

Hao’s Tech Review article continues:

Prasad’s ultimate vision is to make Alexa available and useful for everyone. Even in developing countries, he imagines cheaper versions that people can access on their smartphones. “To me we are on a journey of shifting the cognitive load on routine tasks,” he says. “I want Alexa to be a productivity enhancer … to be truly ubiquitous so that it works for everyone.”

This transition probably won’t feel like a giant leap in technology. It doesn’t take an expert to assume that the pushy version of Alexa will still stumble, struggle, and fail to accomplish language tasks that a four-year-old would understand.

But it’s not about creating a science-fiction experience that wows you. It’s about finding ways to get even more personalized data for Amazon by, literally, giving Alexa permission to start the conversation.

Everything changes the moment our relationship with a collection of algorithms goes from “Hey Alexa” to “Yes Alexa?”

Google: Follow Our Structured Data Requirements to Ensure Rich Result Eligibility

Google’s John Mueller recommends following the company’s official structured data requirements to ensure content is eligible to be displayed as a rich result.

This topic was discussed in the latest installment of the #AskGoogleWebmasters video series in which the following question was addressed:“[Do] we need to use structured data as per the Google Developers site (including required/recommended properties) or can we use more properties from Schema.org apart from the Developers site?”

In response, Mueller says it’s perfectly fine to use structured data properties that aren’t listed in the Google Developers site. Structured data that’s listed on the Developers site is what Google officially supports as rich results – there are numerous other types available for webmasters to use.

With that said, if the goal is to have a web page be displayed as a rich result in Google, then following the company’s official requirements is highly recommended.

Though it’s important to keep in mind that utilizing structured data does not guarantee that a web page will be displayed as a rich result, it simply makes it eligible to be displayed as a rich result.

Using structured data types outside of what Google officially supports is optional, but also acceptable. Even if the structured data is not supported in the form of rich results, it still helps Google understand the content better and rank it accordingly.

Here’s how Mueller explains it:“Independently, you’re always welcome to use structured data to provide better machine readable context for your pages. Which may not always result in visible changes, but can still help our systems to show your pages for relevant queries.”

Google is Testing Search Results Without URLs – We may be looking at the beginning of the end for URLs in search results.

Google appears to be testing the complete removal of URLs from search results, displaying only the website name instead.

This was spotted by a Reddit user who shared the following screenshot in a thread:

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For comparison, here’s how part of that search result appears when URLs are shown (I’ve circled the difference to make it painfully obvious).

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Google has slowly been moving away from showing full URLs since the introduction of breadcrumbs a few months ago. Now it seems Google is testing the impact of removing URLs altogether, to the point of not even showing the domain name.

As one Reddit user states in the thread, perhaps the greatest concern about this change is being able to verify the legitimacy of the website being shown n search results:

“In this era of search results that don’t even show the domain name, how’s Google going to keep phishing sites from using the names of the businesses they’re trying to impersonate? Worse get, might Google have to roll this back after discovering phishing sites were able to exploit this lack of domains in the search results to get people to divulge passwords, credit card numbers, and all other sorts of sensitive information?”

Looking at it another way, removing URLs from search results likely won’t change much in terms of SEO and may even alter the perceived value of exact-match URLs.

Here are another Reddit user’s thoughts on the matter:

“I don’t think this is going to change much in terms of SEO, it just removes one factor that separated good content from good ranking. This is going to normalize the perception of users between traditional tld’s and modern tld’s because they cant subconsciously decide whether or not to click on something based on the perceived trustworthiness of the URL.

I think that fundamentally it is a good thing for new domains trying to get into a niche. this is going to devalue the perceived “vanity” of any particular url, which is good in a climate where basically any URL is taken.”

We may be looking at the beginning of the end for URLs in search results.

 

Google Search: Ongoing changes to the SERP design, directing more traffic towards paid advertisements

That means over half of Google’s search engine results lead to no clicks through to websites or properties that aren’t owned by Google.

Google no click results1

This data was attained via Clickstream and first analysed by SparkToro.

Why are fewer people clicking from the SERPs?

This Google organic search trend milestone has been caused by a number of factors:

  • An increase in search engine results page (SERP) features that pull information from external websites directly into Google’s search results. E.g. featured snippets and People Also Ask boxes.
  • Google related properties and features appearing for an increasing number of verticals (Google Flights, Google Maps, YouTube etc.)
  • Ongoing changes to the SERP design, directing more traffic towards paid advertisements

How does this impact my website?

Fewer searches resulting in clicks could mean fewer website visits. This could lead to a decrease in organic traffic, despite an increase in organic visibility or ranking position.

Measuring the performance of a site will be impacted, as traffic and conversions have traditionally relied on users moving from the SERPS to a site.

The extent to which this impacts traffic and conversion is highly dependent on vertical, however, as Google continues to expand its reach, there are lessons that can be learnt for SEO strategy moving forward.

What can we do about this?

With fewer clicks available than before, the organic landscape is more competitive than ever. But organic search still represents a significant opportunity. There are several things that can be done to make sure a website not only survives, but thrives in this new search environment:

  1. Optimise for Google’s SERP features

While some search results may lead to no clicks, being present in the SERP can have other benefits, like brand visibility and keeping your website at the forefront of a searcher’s mind. Crucially, optimising a site for Google features also means that competitors are not taking advantage of the same opportunities.

When investigating which SERP features to target, it’s important to prioritise. A site may choose to focus only on keywords that have a high click through rate (CTR), or may go after increasing visibility rather than clicks; optimising for features even if it results in a reduced CTR from that SERP. Be aware of the landscape and make informed decisions.

  1. Optimise content for Google-owned properties

Making sure a website is in a position to capitalise on traffic from Google-owned properties will help a brand stay visible, even if organic clicks are reduced. For example, a travel company may want to ensure they’re included in Google Flights. And websites with a physical location will want to be optimised for Google’s Local Pack.

  1. Optimise for search journeys

Searches rarely occur in silos; so even if one search results in no clicks, a future search may drive a visit. Ensuring that a website is set up to answer a user’s need at every stage of the search journey will give it the best chance of driving qualified leads.

It’s not enough to just offer a product as the organic search environment gets increasingly competitive and dominated by Google itself.

  1. Continue to build content that places users at the centre of a website experience

Organic search is often a significant part of any marketing campaign; however, SEO is not a silver bullet. Building a product and an experience that customers love is crucial to keep people coming back.

It’s worth noting that Google is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice over antitrust claims relating to its search results. While we would never recommend relying on external factors like this, it’s worth noting that discussions are ongoing.

Should we target other search engines if Google results are resulting in fewer clicks?

Many SEO campaigns focus attention primarily on optimising for Google.

Despite Google offering fewer clicks from its search results than ever before, it’s still the largest search engine by a significant margin. This means that small gains in Google are equivalent to large increases in smaller search engines.

Search_Engine_Market_Share.png

Google is at the forefront of search engine technology, with other search engines often playing catch-up. Optimising for Google will future-proof a website.

 

This article was written by Dan Cartland from The Drum and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Adobe, Microsoft and LinkedIn Join Forces to Accelerate Account-Based Experiences

Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced an extension of its partnership with Microsoft and a new integration with LinkedIn that will accelerate account-based experiences (ABX) through new marketing solution integrations. Adobe and Microsoft are aligning key data sources to populate account-based profiles in Adobe Experience Cloud, including Marketo Engage and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales. This will empower B2B marketers and sellers to easily identify, understand and engage B2B customer buying teams. This partnership will drive better orchestration, measurement and delivery of targeted content for a more personalized experience at both the individual and account level on key B2B platforms like LinkedIn.

“Orchestrating the engagement of multiple individuals in a complex marketing and sales journey is at the heart of account-based experiences and what B2B marketers do day in and out,” said Steve Lucas, senior vice president, Digital Experience business, Adobe. “With these new account-based capabilities, marketing and sales teams will have increased alignment around the people and accounts they are engaging, and new ways to measure that business impact.”

“The ability to leverage the power of data to find the right opportunities and use insights helps marketing and sales to plan their next move with a member of the buying committee,” said Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of Business Applications and Global Industry at Microsoft. “Together with Adobe and LinkedIn, Microsoft can help to deliver an end-to-end solution that ultimately accelerates lead conversion and can create opportunities for improved servicing and better cross sell, resulting in higher lifetime value of the account.”

“One of the biggest challenges for marketers running campaigns is ensuring that their messages are reaching the right audiences and delivering ROI at scale,” said Jen Weedn, vice president of Business Development at LinkedIn. “By extending LinkedIn account-based marketing capabilities to Adobe Experience Cloud users, we’ve created a seamless way for them to identify and target the right audiences on LinkedIn with meaningful content, ultimately helping improve the success of their campaigns.”

The partnership further deepens the longstanding collaboration between Adobe and Microsoft. The addition of an integration with LinkedIn Marketing Solution offers new ways for marketers to more effectively engage with accounts and buying teams, enabling them to:

Gain a deeper, real-time understanding of targeted accounts: Marketing and sales teams will be able to leverage data from Marketo Engage and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales to get a deeper, real-time understanding of targeted accounts, including insights into individual roles, influence and preferences. By integrating LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences with Marketo Engage, the combined account-based targeting capabilities will help marketers identify the right contacts within an account to reach on LinkedIn.
Target audiences more effectively by leveraging richer account profiles: To identify the best-fit accounts to pursue, Marketo Engage’s Account Profiling capability combines the power of intelligence-driven predictive modeling and automation in a single ABX solution, empowering marketers to identify these accounts out of 25 million companies within minutes.
Power people-based campaigns with more precision than ever before: Adobe Audience Manager, the company’s Data Management Platform (DMP), will enable brands to stitch together audience data to power contact-based campaigns on LinkedIn and other channels, while informing media buys with more precision than ever before. Data governance and privacy controls help to ensure that customer data is kept secure and helps brands to comply with their privacy policies and data privacy compliance objectives.
About Adobe

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

LinkedIn Announces New Data Partnership with Adobe to Improve Ad Targeting

LinkedIn continues to expand its audience targeting capability, this time through a new partnership with Adobe which will expand LinkedIn’s account-based marketing capabilities to Adobe Experience Cloud users.

As explained by Adobe:

“Adobe and Microsoft are aligning key data sources to populate account-based profiles in Adobe Experience Cloud, including Marketo Engage and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales. This will empower B2B marketers and sellers to easily identify, understand and engage B2B customer buying teams.”

The deal will essentially enable marketing and sales teams to utilize data from LinkedIn, Marketo Engage and Microsoft Dynamics 365 to gain greater insight into the audiences they need to reach, and target them more effectively. So say, for example, an Adobe customer is selling office supplies – they’ll now be able to utilize LinkedIn’s audience data and ad targeting tools to show ads to the specific decision-makers, based on job roles, locations, etc., to more effectively market their offerings.

The main target for this new partnership appears to be Salesforce, which provides similar targeting and reach capacity, though without the full, in-depth professional and career dataset of LinkedIn. As you may recall, back in 2016, when Microsoft’s pending takeover of LinkedIn was first announced, Salesforce voiced its opposition to the merger, noting that:

“Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition. By gaining ownership of LinkedIn’s unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage.”

This new deal, partnering Adobe’s back-end tools with LinkedIn’s insights, will definitely broaden their combined offering – and with LinkedIn now serving more than 610 million members, and seeing ‘record levels’ of engagement, that data resource is growing every day.

As noted, this is the latest in LinkedIn’s efforts to make better use of its professional dataset, and expand its advertising potential. The platform also recently launched lookalike audiences and a new integration with search data from Microsoft Bing, further building on its targeting capacity.

Each of these moves has significant implications for advertisers, making LinkedIn a more powerful tool for reaching the right people.