Google Buys Wildfire: Social/Loyalty Anchor?

Google is adding Wildfire to its social-oriented suite of business services, paying “about $250 Million,” according to a source cited by The Wall Street Journal. The San Francisco-based company provides social media analytics for 16,000 customers, ranging from large SMBs to major brands such as Amazon, Unilever and Virgin.

Wildfire launched in 2008 as a self-serve platform that used sweepstakes on Facebook fan pages to build engagement. It has since added contests, deals, giveaways, quizzes, voting, trivia and other activities.

As CEO Victoria Ransom recently told BIA/Kelsey, Wildfire is all about “continual engagement” over social networks. It especially adds value to businesses by analyzing the best ways that they can engage and target customers with social services such as Facebook, Twitter and PInterest.

Facebook’s timeline, for instance, added a 22 percent jump in photo sharing and a 90 percent jump in video sharing. This kind of analytics can be especially valuable in shoring up the value of Google’s YouTube.

Google’s acquisition immediately extends integrated marketing efforts for Google properties such as Double Click and AdMeld via WildFire’s partnership with Adapt.ly. To be sure, social is an increasing part of their account business.

In our view, however, Google’s interest in Wildfire is ultimately more about social business services than advertising. Down the road, we look to Wildfire’s analytics reinforcing Google +, which anchors a broader suite of SMB services that includes Google Offers, The DealMap (deal aggregation), Zagat (reviews) and Punch’d (loyalty).

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