Google to Buy Meebo, in Bid for Social Content Discovery

meeboGoogle has agreed to buy hosted IM platform Meebo in a deal that signals its growing eagerness to wrap its head (and pocketbook) around social and “earned” media– including how to monetize content-driven brand connections.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but in an earlier report about talks between the companies, AllThingsD claimed the price tag would come in around $100 million.

Google said in a statement that the deal is about connecting users, and said the Meebo platform – which includes both its popular IM tool and a content sharing toolbar that overlays websites – would be integrated with Google+. “We are always looking for better ways to help users share content and connect with others across the web, just as they do in real life. With the Meebo team’s expertise in social publisher tools, we believe they will be a great fit with the Google+ team. We look forward to closing the transaction and working with the Meebo team to create more ways for users to engage online.”

Colleen DeCourcey, CEO of brand content and social experience design firm Socialistic, commented to AdExchanger, “The thing that’s interesting about the acquisition is that Meebo is a discovery engine. It speaks to Google possibly covering bases on discovery versus SEO. It’s definitely a nod toward acknowledging that content is a great vehicle for the dissemination of brand experiences and getting people’s attention.”

She added, “It really is about the content marketing play. It makes me wonder what they’re going to do next.”

In addition to IM, Meebo has made considerable investments in its ad platform. Last year it bought Mindset Media, a psychographic ad targeting firm, and has long advanced a toolbar-driven ad network strategy. Meebo has accepted upwards of $70 million in funding.

In its own blog post, Meebo said, “For more than seven years we’ve been helping publishers find deeper relationships with their users and to make their sites more social and engaging. Together with Google, we’re super jazzed to roll up our sleeves and get cracking on even bigger and better ways to help users and website owners alike.”

-Zach Rodgers

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