Website creation service Webs has acquired Facebook Page tab builder Pagemodo in the lastest of a string of Page management company acquisitions. Established website and email marketing as well as web analytics companies are choosing to buy talent and technology rather than build internally in an effort to stay relevant as their industries evolve to include social media.
Here we’ll discuss this trend and assess the acquisition landscape for Facebook Page management companies in 2011 with Johnny Hwin, founder of the Page tab app developer Damntheradio, which was acquired this month by email marketing firm FanBridge.
Webs allows users to create websites full of widgets using templates and a WYSIWYG editor. However, as Facebook user profiles provide enough functionality for most people, and Pages with their tab applications cover more needy content producers, Webs may have found its business draining into social media.
This made Pagemodo a good fit for acquisition, as the startup helps Facebook Page admins build custom tabs and apps through its own WYSIWYG editor. Both companies operate on the freemium model with paying customers gaining access to a white-labeled tool and premium templates. By integrating Pagemodo, Webs can expand its service to encompass Page tab creation.
Webs could have chosen to build its own Facebook Page editor, but in the meantime, competitors such as Involver, Vitrue, and Fan Appz would have solidified and grown their share of the freemium Page tab apps market. Webs also may have lacked the experience on Facebook to quickly build a quality product.
Other marketing and analytics companies have made similar choices to buy instead of build. Analytics and marketing services provider Webtrends acquired self-serve app builder Transpond in August, and enterprise social media publishing and measurement company Syncapse acquired immersive Page tab app developer Nudge in September. Most recently, entertainment and brand email marketer FanBridge acquired musician and brand tab app developer Damntheradio.
The Next Phase for Facebook Pages: Engagement and Monetization
We asked Damntheradio founder Johnny Hwin about why these companies are choosing to acquire, what this says about the timeline of the Page management industry, and what other areas of Facebook services could become acquisition hotbeds.
Hwin sees 2011 as a year of consolidation in the industry. The low barrier to entry for developing on Facebook gave small, forward-thinking firms a chance to get ahead over the past few years. This has created ample acquisition targets. Meanwhile, “Facebook has become the fastest and easiest way to collect new fans, and as a result, more email addresses.” Since Facebook is the gateway to both the one-to-many channel of the news feed and the one-to-one channel of email, and “for marketing com to be truly effective, it needs to reach fans across all channels”, Facebook Page management acquisitions are a wise choice for marketers.
Therefore, email, traditional web, and local business marketers as well as hosting services like Go Daddy may seek to add Facebook expertise and talent to their offering in 2011.
The Page management timeline can be broken down into two phases. “Early on, it was all about getting more fans through advertising and “Like to unlock content” page tabs. Now we’re at the point where brands are already sitting on a ton of fans, and they’re asking now ‘what do I do with all these fans?'” Hwin and the rest of the industry are now focused on engaging and monetizing them. Their acquisitions now allow FanBridge, Webtrends, and Webs to offer engagement that strengthens the bond between clients and their fans, preparing the users for monetization.
This poises Facebook ecommerce as an area for acquisition. Shoptab, Ecwid, Zibaba, and Moontoast are all small to mid-size ecommerce tab developers that could be targeted. Even larger companies like Payvment, Fluid, and Big Commerce could be snapped up by marketing giants looking to make a serious play to control shopping on Facebook and help their customers monetize their millions of fans.
With acquisition potential rising, some of these companies might seek to appear more attractive by artificially boosting their numbers through advertising and aggressive client acquisition. The best thing they can do, though, is continue simplifying their self-serve tools, develop innovative tab apps that increase engagement, and look to prove themselves by representing high profile clients.