July 31, 2012

Google Buys Wildfire To Spread Social Marketing

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

While the dry conditions across much of the United States are a reason for concern over wild fires, online search giant Google is hoping its social marketing will likely spread like an out of control blaze, and jumped back into the fray with its acquisition of Wildfire.

Just months ago the company had attempted to buy its way into the social ad business, when it looked to purchase Buddy Media. Apparently the deal didn´t create online BFFs as Buddy Media´s top buds had concerns that that the deal wouldn´t get the necessary “likes” from regulators. Instead, Buddy Media cozied up with Marc Benioff´s in June. Google was on the rebound and found a new burning desire to acquire Wildfire.

In its official blog, Google noted that businesses around the world of all sizes are embracing social media.

We´re happy to share that the Wildfire team will be joining Google,” Jason Miller, Product Management Director posted today. “Their co-founders, Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, launched their startup just four years ago. Since then, they and their team have built a service that helps businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify manage their social efforts across numerous social websites. It´s a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place.”

The Redwood, Calif.-based social ad firm has worked with marketers to manage their presence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Wildfire´s founders responded with their own blog post:

We believe that over time the combination of Wildfire and Google can lead to a better platform for managing all digital media marketing. For now, we remain focused on helping brands run and measure their social engagement and ad campaigns across the entire web and across all social services – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more – and to deliver rich and satisfying experiences for their consumers. To this end, Wildfire will operate as usual, and there will be no changes to our service and support for our customers.

According to online reports Google will integrate Wildfire into its display advertising “stack,” which already includes DoubleClick and Google´s AdX exchange. This could allow Google to leverage the ability to provide marketers with options for conventional display ads on Google, while also pushing ads through to competing platforms such as Facebook.

The ability to advertize on Facebook is notable, especially as it allows Google´s ad network to expand, but also because the deal could — according to some online reports — allow the search giant access to some Facebook marketing data. Of course Facebook could shut down Wildfire´s API access, so this will be something to watch.

In a recent Venturebeat interview, Wildfire co-founder and CEO Victoria Ransom noted that Facebook was “hands-down” the company´s largest area of focus. Whether it will remain so is the outstanding question, while the next one is whether Facebook will want it to be so.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, a source close to the deal suggested it could be around $250 million, which is certainly more kindling but far less than the $700 million that paid for Buddy Media. Google and are not alone in expanding into social media this year. Oracle, which had seen Google in the far less social setting of federal court over patent disputes related to Java, picked up several social media businesses this year including Involver, Vitrue and Collective Intellect.