Wildfire is dead. Long live Wildfire?

When Google bought Wildfire for $350M, it took many by surprise. What did Google want with a Social Relationship Management company? Google is in the ad business, not the SRM business. Last year Google announced it was integrating Wildfire’s technology into DoubleClick, and Wildfire dropped off the radar as a social business tool since then.

So yesterday’s announcement that Wildfire Social Marketing Suite was being sunsetted was not a shock. Why the acquisition in the first place? Social insights. In the blog post about the closure, Wildfire’s former CEO, Victoria Ransom, writes:

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.

This integration provides marketers better social attribution, helping determine how social activity affects activities like purchases—giving marketers broader insight into overall ad performance and the customer journey. This is an important event not just because it signals even greater consolidation in the SRM industry, which I’ll discuss in a moment, but also because it emphasizes the value of social data.

I’ll be publishing a related report in April: how companies can use rich customer data (in social profiles and ongoing social signals) unavailable in other channels, they can understand their customers better. And knowing customers better enables brands to engage customers more effectively with more relevant messaging, across all channels. For the SRM industry, this is just another step in the broader trend toward consolidation.

Hootsuite and Sprinklr are already planning on going after Wildfire’s previous customers. Some of those clients are certain to explore the various “marketing clouds,” offered by Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle as well. In a way, this will be an interesting test for the industry, to see where the majority of the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite customers decide to go.

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