WPP Adds Social Networking Arms with Blast Buy

WPP acquires Blast Radius to bolster its marketing strategies around social networking.

Social networking sites continue to wield their influence over the online advertising space, as WPP acquired interactive firm Blast Radius Oct. 24 for an undisclosed sum.

A WPP spokesperson told eWEEK Blast Radius creates customer online ads and marketing strategies for many sites, but it has a particular knack for creating "customer relationship maps" for social networking sites.

Blast Radius, which is based in Vancouver and has offices in Amsterdam, New York, London, Toronto and San Francisco, boasts customers such as Nike, Whirlpool and Starbucks.

WPPs move underscores recent moves in the social networking space. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Oct. 17 his company was looking into online advertising.

On Oct. 24, Microsoft paid $240 million for a small stake in Facebook and agreed to place ads on Facebook internationally. Experts saw the deal as a slap in the face for Google, which has hinted at opening up its Orkut platform for developers.

Moreover, Facebook is reportedly in line for another $250 million in funding, which underscores the current clamoring for services that help people connect with each other over similar interests. Facebook could use those dollars for engineers, and perhaps some digital marketing campaigns led by WPP or its network of marketing firms.


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To that end, Blast Radius will be paired with WPPs marketing network Wunderman, which has already acquired digital marketing firms Aqua Online, of South Africa and These Days, of Belgium.

Tacking on Blast move marks a continuation of Wundermans push to grow its digital operations, which includes digital relationship marketing, Web analytics and data integration.

"As marketers increase their dependency on digital channels, Wunderman and Blast Radius are well situated to provide unparalleled online relationship marketing capabilities to meet the growing global demand," said Wunderman Chairman and CEO Daniel Morel in a statement Oct. 24.

Morel is also apparently taking the if-it-aint-broke-dont- fix-it approach with Blast, which "will continue to have the autonomy needed to stay creative and remain independent at heart" even as it taps the resources of the Wunderman network to position for growth.


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Given the current red-hot climate in the Internet sector, that growth could entail some digital marketing business requests from social networking sites other than Facebook, including MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster and Twitter.

Wunderman parent company WPP also wants to be ready for the digital wave, acquiring interactive ad agency Schematic Sept. 10 and ad power 24/7 Real Media for $649 million July 13.


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