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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 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 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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