Socially persistent Google will buy Wildfire Interactive for approximately $25o million. The deal comes just a few months after Google reportedly sniffed around Wildfire competitor Buddy Media, before Buddy sold to Salesforce.
The deal hasn't closed but sources tell AdExchanger that Google doesn't expect the need for regulatory review and hopes to finalize things in short order.
Clients like Virgin and Spotify use Wildfire's tools to manage presence and advertising on social platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Soaring above them all is Facebook, and around Facebook swirls the big question about this deal.
Wildfire is a preferred marketing developer for Facebook's Insights, Apps, and Pages qualification areas. Facebook now faces a decision about whether to revoke that certification to prevent Google from gaining access to its platform APIs, its infrastructure, and its advertiser data. Doing so would be in keeping with Facebook's history of Google-blocking. Over the last two years, Facebook has denied requests by Google's DoubleClick to be certified though its third party ad tracking program. More recently it excluded Google DSP Invite Media from the nascent Facebook Exchange RTB marketplace, while opening it up to nine rival DSPs.
But the Facebook awkwardness doesn't end there. Not only does Wildfire access and make money on the Facebook platform, Facebook is a direct client. As CEO Victoria Ransom told AdExchanger in June, "They use Wildfire’s technology to manage over 30 of their own brand pages, which is exciting for us, and a great validation."
Facebook hasn't responded to an information request, but it's probably a good bet Facebook will at the very least migrate its internal Pages management away from Google. It will be a waiting game to see if Wildfire is shown the door in other ways as well.
It's also interesting to consider a possible overlap between Wildfire and Meebo, which Google agreed to buy last month. Meebo is being integrated with Google+, where Meebo's experience developing the Meebo Bar social plugin across hundreds of websites will enhance the struggling Google+'s ties to publishers.
Underlying both deals is content – the ways it's shared by users, publishers, and brands. Google wants to be as close to that sharing as possible, ideally by owning the user experience.
But if that fails, hey, there's always the ecosystem.