Google has purchased social media advertising firm Wildfire, which targets Facebook and other social networking data.
"We believe that over time the combination of Wildfire and Google can lead to a better platform for managing all digital media marketing," reads a post on the Wildfire site.
"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."
The Google+ platform is a direct attack on Facebook, yet Google until now has failed to propel it to anywhere near the popularity that Facebook has achieved. Also, search advertising - Google's strong suit - is increasingly aligned with social media marketing, so it is no surprise Google wants more social data.
Indeed, some speculate Wildfire could serve as Google's Trojan horse into Facebook. Google Analytics currently cannot connect to Facebook's, Twitter's or LinkedIn's APIs, so it cannot provide nuanced information on social interactions such as likes or shares. The Wildfire acquisition could help Google gather more of that valuable intelligence from those and other social interaction data beasts.
Just how Google might employ the data that Wildfire gleans from social networks to help inform ads on its own sites or in its expansive ad network is not known. A Google spokesperson stressed the company's commitment to user privacy, noting that it was too early to know how Wildfire's data might enhance Google's capabilities.
Though Wildfire also manages efforts on Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere, a quick glance at its website or recent research it has published reveals Wildfire's business model is particularly intertwined with Facebook.
Though Google expects Wildfire to continue to serve its clients in managing efforts on Facebook and elsewhere, some wonder whether Facebook could prevent Wildfire from connecting to its platform in the future, or simply make it more difficult to do so.
Digital agencies with social media marketing practices may also feel some heat from the Google buy, as it helps Google compete in the social marketing campaign management space. Many social agencies use tools like Wildfire, suggested the Google spokesperson, so it may not have much of an impact.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
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