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posted: 7/31/2012 9:53 PM

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  • Google is buying a company that specializes in social media marketing as it intensifies competition with Facebook for ad dollars and attention.

      Google is buying a company that specializes in social media marketing as it intensifies competition with Facebook for ad dollars and attention.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Bloomberg

Google Inc., owner of the world's largest Internet search engine, said it is acquiring Wildfire Interactive Inc., a startup that helps companies market their wares via social media.

Google will pay about $250 million plus performance incentives for Wildfire, according to two people familiar with the matter.

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Companies such as Salesforce.com Inc. have been buying startups that specialize in social-media marketing, seeking to capture a bigger slice of advertising budgets devoted to reaching consumers who interact over the Web. Google has stepped up its efforts in social with Google+, a service it started last year that competes directly with Facebook Inc., owner of the biggest social network.

"It's a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place," Mountain View, California-based Google said in a blog posting today about Wildfire. "The ultimate goal is better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions."

Meanwhile, Facebook's stock is at another all-time low.

The stock has been falling since Facebook released quarterly earnings Thursday for the first time as a public company. Investors were disappointed despite second-quarter results meeting Wall Street expectations, with revenue one-third higher than last year.

The stock lost $1.44, or 6.2 percent, to close Tuesday at $21.71. It is 43 percent below its initial public offering price of $38. Shares briefly hit $21.61 during the day. The previous low was $22.28, on Friday.

Facebook began trading publicly in mid-May following one of the most anticipated stock offerings in history. But since then, investors have been concerned about its ability to keep increasing revenue and make money from its growing mobile audience. Many analysts hold positive long-term views.

Wildfire, with investors such as Summit Partners and fbFund -- whose capital comes from Founders Fund and Accel Partners -- has customers such as PepsiCo Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Wildfire's services can help clients boost interest on Facebook and other social sites, including Twitter Inc. and Google+.

"Over time the combination of Wildfire and Google can lead to a better platform for managing all digital media marketing," the company said on its website. "Wildfire will operate as usual, and there will be no changes to our service and support for our customers."

Salesforce said on June 4 that it would pay $745 million for Buddy Media Inc., which helps companies create social-media campaigns. Earlier this month, Oracle Corp., the world's largest maker of database software, said it is buying Involver Inc., the third acquisition in two months aimed at helping customers use social-media tools.

Google shares rose less than 1 percent to $632.97 at the close in New York. The stock has declined 2 percent this year.

The price of Google's Wildfire acquisition was reported earlier by Advertising Age.

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