WPP Strengthens Social Media Ties

NEW YORK WPP Group said it invested in a small social media tracking firm, the second such alliance in the consumer-generated media space the holding company has struck in a month.

WPP inked a partnership with Visible Technologies, a Seattle-based company that monitors brand reputations in the blogosphere and social networking sites like MySpace. WPP invested an undisclosed sum in the 32-person company, with an option to increase its stake at a later date.

Three-year-old Visible Technologies, which started as a search optimization firm, allows clients to monitor their online reputations—and get a read on how they are perceived by consumers—through both search engines and social networks.

The company’s TruView service gauges information returned for relevant searches, while TruCast, a service the company is in the process of introducing, monitors brand-related chatter in consumer-generated media, from message boards to social networks to blogs.

The Visible Technologies deal comes a month after WPP struck an agreement with LiveWorld to form a joint venture dedicated to building social networking applications. That pact is intended to bring LiveWorld services (which include creating and moderating message boards, blogs and social networks) to WPP clients and agencies.

“We’re trying to give the WPP companies access to the best emerging digital opportunities,” said Howard Paster, evp of public relations and government affairs at WPP.

Similarly, Visible Technologies’ social media-tracking services would be used by WPP’s stable of public relations agencies, which include Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton. Visible Technologies is already working with Burson.

Paster said that while several firms monitor blogs, WPP believes Visible Technologies has a better overall platform. “We think these folks have differentiation,” he said.

Based in Seattle, Visible Technologies has offices in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.