The biggest winner so far in the Facebook marketing vendor ecosystem was declared yesterday when Salesforce.com bought Buddy Media for $689 million. Maybe those Buddy Media airport ads (pictured) weren't so wacky after all, as they seemed to have led to some sales.
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said he met with 10 social media vendors before beginning negotiations with Buddy Media. Benioff said his decision was significantly based on Buddy Media having "the largest transactions" from clients like Ford and WPP.
One vendor under consideration, the CEO mentioned, was Vitrue, which was recently bought by Oracle for $300 million. Other major players that were probably reviewed by Salesforce.com include Wildfire, Syncapse, Friend2Friend, Offerpop, and FanBridge. And for further price tag comparisons, Salesforce.com last year purchased social listening platform Radian6 for $326 million - less than half of what Buddy Media went for.
"At the end of the day," Benioff said, "[Buddy Media] had the best product…We are going to market and sell the heck out of it."
Marketers who already use Salesforce will now be able to incorporate Facebook efforts into their digital workflows via the Buddy Media system. At the same time, it's probably too early to say what Buddy Media's sale to Salesforce.com means to the evolution of social media-enhanced CRM. For instance, when ClickZ asked what brand clients should now anticipate, Scott Monty, the oft-quotable social media director for Buddy Media customer Ford, wouldn't bite.
"We're not really prepared to provide an assessment," Monty said.
The Buddy Media purchase is seen by some as the next step to Salesforce.com's acquisition of Radian6. John Donahue, director of business strategy and consumer engagement at content and technology firm Socialistic, said it seems that Salesforce.com is "assembling a war chest of technology to go after Fortune 1000 brands. The question remains on how Salesforce will work to adapt their consulting model to work closer with marketers as all of these technologies only work well when they are implemented correctly organizationally."
Meanwhile, for brands that want social to become more of a centerpiece in their CRM, getting Salesforce.com more heavily involved in the scene can likely be interpreted as a positive sign. Few tech companies have performed as industriously in the marketplace, garnering the confidence of Wall Street investors to the tune of an 80 percent stock price increase over the last four years in an otherwise bad economy.