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Google’s got a new toy – but what’s next for Wildfire?


Never a business to let the grass grow under its feet, it seems Google has added to its ever-increasing stable with the recent acquisition of social media marketing specialists Wildfire.

Founded in 2008, Wildfire has more than 400 employees and manages the social media marketing for more than 16,000 businesses. The company provides software that links directly to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest among others and engages users by targeted ads, promotions, analytics, scheduled messaging, page and content creation and evaluation.

The search giant is reported to have splashed a cool $250million on the start-up and is clearly looking to extend its reach into social media campaigning, as well as improve its own targeted advertising as the popularity of social networking grows unchecked. But does the purchase mean Wildfire will lose it’s identity as it’s simply swallowed by the amorphous, omnipresent Google?

Recent Acquisitions

According to many sources, Google has made on average at least one purchase per week since 2010 and the list now totals around 100 companies – the most high-profile of which, Motorola Mobility, was bought for a reputed $12billion.

Other companies taken over by the digital behemoth also include Picasa, YouTube, Android, Picnik and Admeld and more recently Sparrow, just two weeks before Wildfire joined the Google ranks, as well as Quickoffice and Meebo.

A Lost Identity

Most companies purchased by Google end up being integrated into the existing offer or morphed into new Google services. Examples include Dodgeball (Google Latitude), Endoxon (Google Maps), Sparrow (Google Mail) and Meebo (Google+).

With such high-profile companies being lost in the melee that is Google, what are Wildfire’s chances of retaining its identity or the risk of it being lost forever?

Wildfire has 30 of the World’s top 50 companies on its books including Sony Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. so there are going to be some execs out there wondering how this latest Google acquisition is going to affect the management of their social media presence, but Wildfire at least are remaining philosophical, almost upbeat, at the moment.

The company’s blog stated: “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.”

However, there are rumours that Google plans to sit Wildfire with other advertising services offered by its DoubleClick business.

A Seamless Integration?

According to Reuters, Wildfire’s services will fit in well with Google’s offer as they specialize in technology that help marketers reach consumers via social media, and the acquisition follows a recent spate of social media purchases by enterprising tech firms.

Google took on Meebo in June, in the same month Salesforce.com Inc. bought Buddy Media for $700million and Oracle Corp has purchased several social media start-ups recently.

“There’s still a lot of opportunity for advertisers to get their message out on social media,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie. “As more and more social sites are being used, such as Pinterest, it gets more and more complicated for companies and brands to manage.”

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