Buyouts signal new era of targeted social media

It has been a remarkable period of consolidation in the social media world. Digital marketers have been playing catch-up as takeover announcements tumbled one after another, sometimes with little or no forewarning.

At the tail-end of July 2009, Yahoo revealed it had bought photo-management tool Xoopit for a reported £12.35 million. Then IT business services specialist brightsolid got in on the act with a £25 million takeover of the Friends Reunited Group, just days before Facebook bought social media coordination service FriendFeed for a rumoured £30.89 million.

So what is really going on? Let’s look at those deals one at a time.

Yahoo and Xoopit

Yahoo Mail seems to be positioning itself as a repository for photo sharing. The technology giant has just announced that Xoopit’s technology will shortly be used to power a new My Photos application, which automatically scans all users’ emails for attached or shared photos. These will be collected into a virtual scrapbook that can be re-jigged, edited and sent directly to friends. Simultaneously, Yahoo Mail will more than double its photo attachment limit from 10MB to 25MB.

Facebook and FriendFeed

Facebook’s latest acquisition is also getting tongues wagging in the marketing world. FriendFeed is a one-stop service that enables you to manage all your social media accounts from Twitter and YouTube to Flickr and indeed Facebook. Under the terms of the deal, every engineer and developer at the startup will now join the world’s largest networking portal. They will undoubtedly try to replicate the FriendFeed formula by establishing their new home as the go-to site for all social media, not just Facebook.

Friends Reunited Group and brightsolid

Friends Reunited may be the group’s star brand with 21 million members but perhaps the more significant acquisition is sister website Genes Reunited and its 9 million global users. Since brightsolid already owns, it means the IT services provider now operates the largest genealogy specialist in the country.

Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brighstolid, even hinted at consolidating Genes Reunited and after wrapping up the deal. “This marks another step forward in the future strategy of brightsolid, widening its offering to the consumer marketplace, in particular by creating Britain’s leading genealogy business,” he said.

The consolidation of social media

There is little doubt among marketing experts that social media is undergoing a period of dramatic transformation. Consolidation is the name of the game and each company is trying to corner a different demographic. Yahoo is enticing email users who regularly share photos with friends, while Facebook wants to become the go-to hub for all social media content and brightsolid has targeted those with an interest in tracing family histories.

This is an important step for social media marketers. Each company is trying to forge a distinct user profile and, of course, unique demographics are far more attractive to advertisers. Thanks to these takeovers, digital marketers may soon be able to target adspend more accurately than ever before.

Richard Frost