Google Bets Big On "Data Out" And The Database Of Affinity

Last week we published a report on how "data in, data out" practices are the future of social relationship platforms  and just a week later, Google has made a big bet on the "data out" side of that equation. 

In the report, we say that "'data out' will prove the value of social and improve the rest of your marketing [. . .] [by] powering effective targeting in everything from banner ads to TV spots." Readers familiar with our research will know we're talking about the database of affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could revolutionize brand advertising.

Well, last night, Google announced it was shifting the focus of its Wildfire division (previously a full-service social relationship platform) away from managing brands' profiles on social networks and toward extracting social data to help it better build the database of affinity.

What does this mean for the industry? First, it's great news that Google is so focused on building the database of affinity. For the past year, we've seen Google plug away in its efforts to help marketers leverage affinity data. And Google's blog post says clearly that the move is designed to "enable marketers to use social insights to improve their marketing campaigns." If this decision brings our industry closer to a fully functioning database of affinity, then we say bravo.

And second, it's great news for the social relationship platform (SRP) space. There are too many SRPs who are too undifferentiated, and frankly, marketers just aren't impressed with this vendor category. Yet the number of vendors in this category has been growing rather than shrinking. We're overdue for a good shakeout in the SRP space. And while Wildfire's clients will now have the challenge of transitioning to new platforms, we hope to see further consolidation in the SRP market throughout 2014.

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