How Long Will This $1 Billion Industry Last?

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Developers of software for helping marketers setup social networking campaigns were hot acquisition targets this summer.

Between May and July, life was good for companies developing social-media tools for marketers. Acquisitions during that time valued three companies in the industry at more than $1 billion combined.

First, Oracle acquired Vitrue in a deal valued at $300 million, according to TechCrunch. The in June, Salesforce.com said it was buying Buddy Media for $689 million. The next month, Google acquired Wildfire for about $250 million plus performance incentives.

The frenzy appears to be over, but Wendell Lansford, the chief executive officer of Offerpop, is prepping the company he co-founded to be the top contender in the industry’s next round. But will any more big spenders come knocking again?

“It’s the right time for companies to have very successful exits,” Lansford said in an interview at the New York office where most of the company’s 50 employees work. He declined to say whether Offerpop is looking to be acquired.

The two-year-old company recently raised $3.2 million, adding to the $3.8 million from previous rounds. Investors include Windcrest Partners, Acquia CEO Thomas Erickson and GoodData founder Roman Stanek, Lansford said.

Offerpop plans to use the funds it raised to hire employees and introduce its own marketing campaigns to promote upcoming tools, Lansford said. At the same time, the company is brainstorming features for tapping fast-growing social networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest, that Lansford expects his bigger rivals will be slow to adopt under their new masters.

“They kind of looked at the obvious things you might want to do with a business on Facebook,” Lansford said. “We have a lot of ideas about what to do next.”

The market for services targeting social-media marketers has taken off alongside large companies’ rapid adoption of Facebook and other networks as vehicles for reaching consumers. Of the Fortune 500 companies, 66 percent maintain pages on Facebook, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. It’s no wonder why three of the most successful companies in the new marketing industry were acquired recently. Some independent rivals still remain, such as One Public and Syncapse.

Offerpop is developing services designed to allow its corporate users, including American Express, Wal-Mart Stores and Walt Disney, to go deeper when analyzing their online fan bases, Lansford said. The tools, which are still in development and will be made available to all customers next month, includes organizing campaigns by segments, and detailed profiles for each person that interacts with a user’s Facebook page.

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