Last week, Google bought PostRank, a social analytics service that tracks and measures social posts. With this acquisition, Google has gained a resource to better understand the social web, and that resource can be applied to great impact in several of Google's key social arenas.
What Is (or Was) PostRank?
PostRank, in their own words, "is the largest aggregator of social engagement data in the industry." The service allowed users to get real-time data on trending topics, high-volume conversations around the web, and their own posts. The company was established in 2007 under the name "AideRSS." They re-branded as PostRank in October of 2008 in preparation for more socially oriented features. In July of 2009, the company released a service to track social trends (i.e. for datamining). Over the next year they expanded into brand management, blogging services, trend analysis, and consulting services.
The company was acquired by Google earlier this month, but beyond that no details have been released regarding the transaction. A Google representative gave a fairly typical statement to TechCrunch about the company's excitement to be working with the PostRank team, stating that PostRank has "developed an innovative approach to measuring web engagement, and we think they can help us improve our products for our users and advertisers." Which is almost exactly the same as what they said about buying Slide.
While we don't know exactly what the PostRank team will be doing, it is known that they're moving from their Waterloo, Ontario home to Mountain View, California, and statements from both Google and PostRank indicate that the team's focus will continue to be on social tracking and analytics. As was the case with Slide, SayNow and Fflick acquisitions Google is most likely buying the talent of the development team, rather than the product.
What Google's Acquisition Means
It's fairly common knowledge that Google is going more social. Since Google's first foray into the social scene (aka, the disaster that was Buzz), the company has been attempting, with mixed success, to implement social features. However, if one thing is certain, it's that Google is committed to changing its poor position when it comes to the social web. They even went so far as tying the bonuses of all Googlers to the company's success in social.
Here are a few areas where PostRank's product and know-how may be used:
- Google +1: The +1 button, a feature mirrors the Facebook's "Like", this little gadget hopes to make a big impact in a) establishing Google as a more social brand, b) make the Google SERP a more social experience, and c) reduce the link-based gaming of the Google SERP. PostRank's technology can rapidly be applied to improve Google's tracking of social impact, making it easier to position and analyze +1's success.
- Social Search: The recent addition of a "social promotion" element to the Google SERP, where stories that have been Tweeted or +1'd by users connected to your Google account are promoted on the results page, relies on understanding how people connect on the social web and how links are shared. PostRank will help with both elements.
- Google's Social Network: The rumored 'Google Me' or 'Google Circles' social network which will hypthetically rival Facebook isn't ready, probably because Google doesn't have enough social reputation or understanding of the social platform. PostRank can help them get that footing.
The acquisition is by no means a game-changer. However, it's one more resource to add to Google's stack, and the move continues to hammer in the company's social focus.