Google Buys PostRank for Social Media Analytics

Google acquires PostRank to help cut through the social media noise for users and advertisers. The move is Google's latest play to challenge Facebook in social software.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) June 3 said it has purchased PostRank, a startup whose software sifts through social media to disambiguate signal from noise.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ReadWriteWeb, which uses PostRank, explained that users may plug in any RSS feed to PostRank, which scores each post in that feed by the number of comments, inbound links, mentions on Twitter, saves on Delicious and other social media metrics. Users may then set up a filtered feed of the most-discussed items.

Publishers pay for PostRank's data services and analytics to get a handle on not only where their content is being used and by whom, but what's being said about their rivals. Companies such as Jive Software and provide similar filtering services at a much more serious level for larger enterprises.

"Conversations online are an important signal for advertisers, publishers, developers and consumers-but today's tools only skim the surface of what we think is possible," wrote PostRank CEO Carol Leaman and CTO Ilya Grigorik in a blog post.

Leaman and Grigorik, who along with the small team will be joining Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, added that because Google groks the value of social engagement, the search giant will help PostRank expand its purview to millions of Web users.

When eWEEK asked how Google planned to leverage PostRank, a spokesperson responded: "We're always looking for new ways to measure and analyze data, and as social analytics become increasingly important for online businesses, we're excited to work with the PostRank team to make this data more actionable and accountable."

PostRank's approach to measuring Web engagement, Google added, should help the search engine improve products for its users and advertisers.

That sounds a lot like Google will put the PostRank team on its Google Analytics team, whose goal is to measure user engagement and online activity. Analytics does this well, but was not designed with a social bent from the ground up, which is how PostRank was fashioned.

More broadly, PostRank is just the latest in a run of social media purchases Google started in earnest last summer when it acquired Slide, virtual currency provider Jambool, SocialDeck and others.

The company is using talent and technology from these acquisitions to fortify its social software strategy versus rival Facebook, whose user engagement and social advertising prowess threaten Google's online growth prospects.