Meltwater picks up social search engine, targets Canada

Meltwater Group has purchased Dallas, Tx.-based real-time social search engine firm IceRocket in an effort to challenge competing products such as Radian6 and expand its Canadian footprint.

The San Francisco-based online analytics software maker will integrate IceRocket’s content aggregating technology into its flagship Meltwater Buzz social monitoring and engagement product. IceRocket, which is backed by angel investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, launched in 2004 and allows customers to monitor trends from blogs and social networks.

Niklas de Besche, executive director of Meltwater Buzz, said IceRocket’s localized approach to social media searches will help the company expand into various global markets, including Canada.

“There are a lot of message boards, forums and blogs that are extremely relevant for Canadian companies that aren’t so relevant to American ones,” he said. IceRocket, de Besche added, has done extensive work tracking Canadian news and social media sources.

In addition to getting a better handle on Canadian sites, IceRocket’s search technology will bring more geographic and demographic data to the analytics platform that Meltwater already offers to customers. IceRocket’s strong filtering technology will also benefit Meltwater’s suite, de Besche said.

And despite plans to integrate its technology and staff into Meltwater’s existing products, IceRocket will continue to operate as a standalone search engine. The motivation to keep the search engine online is to entice users that find the search results useful to try upgrading to the full Meltwater social analytics suite.

The IceRocket acquisition is the third in a string of recent buys for the company. Meltwater acquired customer relationship management firm JitterJam earlier this year and social monitoring tool BuzzGain last year.

Zach Hofer-Shall, a Forrester Research analyst covering the social intelligence space, said he sent clients to IceRocket anytime they wanted to take a “quick pulse” of their social brand on a tight budget.

“They can take a quick search on a keyword and that’s usually the extent of it,” he said. “It’s not a monitoring tool or a research tool, but a social search engine.”

But despite its limited use case, he said, the product is effective at what it does, Hofer-Shall said. “IceRocket was doing one thing fairly well,” he said. “Well enough that it stayed around for a few years and got acquired.”

Moving forward, Hofer-Shall expects Meltwater to continue buying firms that gives it the ability to offer deeper analytics, create reports and engage online users.

“We’re watching them grow right now from being a basic tracking tool to what looks like a suite of marketing tools,” he added.

Meltwater, which generated more than US$100 million in revenue last year, did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement. IceRocket’s four employees will join the Meltwater team.

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