This article was originally written by Mike Shields for the Wall Street Journal

Industry executives sees potential for software company to leverage LinkedIn data to push its own products, maybe help other business marketers

Almost a year ago, Microsoft largely exited the digital advertising business, outsourcing the task of selling ads on properties like its web portal MSN to AOL.

So, does the software giant s surprising $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn change that dynamic?

It s not entirely clear, said Dina Gowar, who oversees global technology and innovation at Dell and helps the company evaluate new outlets for advertising.

Ms. Gowar theorized that LinkedIn s vast streams of data could be used to target people with ads across devices—a key competitive advantage for an ad company in an increasingly mobile world.

Microsoft could help a company specializing in supply chain logistics, for example, target ads to a network of people who work in this field or regularly inquire about this subject on LinkedIn, Mr. Kirkpatrick suggested.

Tom O Regan, CEO at Madison Logic, a business-to-business marketing technology firm, noted that LinkedIn could help Microsoft market its own products, and agreed that selling ads to other marketers was probably not much of a motivator for the deal.

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