In 2012, Google made a huge splash when it bought Wildfire, a social media marketing company that helps advertisers manage their pages on Facebook, for $US350 million. The acquisition came after a flurry of social media acquisitions in which Salesforce bought Buddy media and Oracle bought Vitrue.
A huge amount of money was pouring into Facebook ad buying, and Google did not want to miss out. Also, Wildfire gave Google some insight into how Facebook works and what kind of data it can generate for marketers.
But yesterday, Wildfire said it was no longer signing up new customers and that the company’s offering would be “integrated” into Google’s general adtech platform.
A source tells us that Wildfire has begun contacting its clients — which have included Cisco, Amazon, DQ, Gap, Jamba Juice, and McCann — to tell them that their business would no longer be serviced after the end of 2015.
We called Wildfire for comment twice this morning but no one picked up the phone. All we got was “on hold” music. Google declined comment.
The end of Wildfire as a standalone entity has been coming for a while. Last year, Google said it would more fully integrate Wildfire’s social analytics into DoubleClick, its web-wide ad buying platform, so that advertisers can use social data to target their ads anywhere they want.
It was never clear just how big Wildfire’s business was. Although its roster of clients was top-notch (McCann, for instance, is a huge ad agency group with dozens of clients) it only held Facebook’s “Pages” and “Insights” badges — meaning it was only qualified to manage brand pages and handle audience data. Wildfire was not qualified to market itself as an ad buyer on Facebook, or as a developer of Facebook marketing apps. Facebook has made it clear that it wants to deal primarily with marketing partners who bring ad money to its platform, not those who simply want to manage the free resources like brand pages. The biggest social media marketers tend to hold three or all four of Facebook’s partner badges (insights, apps, pages and ads).
Here’s the key part of Wildfire founder Victoria Ransom’s blog post from last night:
The Wildfire Social Marketing Suite, which helps businesses manage their posts and content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, will continue to be supported, but further investments will be limited: we won’t be building new features or signing up new customers. Our focus will be on integrating Wildfire’s technology with our ad technology platform and building new features that enable marketers to use social insights to improve their marketing campaigns.