A Week’s A Long Time Vol. 3

Wow. It’s June. Where did this year go? Or, more to the point, where did the last 60 years go? I’m a republican, in the original sense of the word, but even I can’t bring myself to rain on the jubilee parade. Good on you Ma’am. Shame about your kids.

Anyway, what’s been happening away from the worlds of pomp & ceremony?

Buddying Up

Whilst Facebook’s IPO continues to cause ructions (and the media hang off of every part of Mark Zuckerberg’s honeymoon), some still see value in the Facebook platform. Coming off of the recent purchase of Facebook ad management system Vitrue by enterprise IT giant Oracle, all the signs are that SalesForce, which offers cloud based CRM systems, is about to buy Buddy Media for $800 million*.

Both of these are interesting, if initially slightly puzzling moves (at least in the case of Oracle). Essentially they highlight how social, and in some ways digital in general, can’t be parked in a client’s media, or even marketing department. It can affect everything from customer relationship management, product development, PR, sales, etc... Buddy had themselves highlighted this when they added to their initial offering, which was an enterprise tool for managing Facebook brand pages, by snapping up Brighter Option, which is a Facebook ad management tool.

This can only be good news for Facebook, and the other platforms that these tools cover (Vitrue was the first one to add Instagram profile management): companies like Oracle and Salesforce are often talking to entirely different people and departments at client companies, and so can only help those arguing that such platforms need to be taken seriously, potentially driving up budgets. And whilst no-one likes a monopoly (other than the monopolist), integration and consolidation should be a good thing for brands and agencies.

I’ve suggested before that by allowing companies to scale social management and advertising, these moves allow companies to increase investment, as less needs to be spent on actual human resource. One of the challenges many face with Google+ is that managing pages on it is still, in many cases, a very manual task. Some suggested that this would have made Buddy a good purchase target for Google, but personally I’m guessing the guys at Buddy would have worried that such a move might see them lose their favoured status with Facebook.

Courting Controversy

Whilst Google may not have succeeded in getting hold of Buddy, it has had its hand full in other places.

Firstly, the EU claimed that Google might need to change its search results to show that it’s not favouring its own products (YouTube, etc…) over similar sites from other companies. This all dates back to a complaint made by a group of companies around this (alleged) practice, with many (me included) in the industry unimpressed by the claims by some of those involved in the original complaint.

However, as many people & companies know, if a judge decides that a case has merit, which the EU seems to have done, the actual quality of the complaints doesn’t really matter, even if those arguments can quite easily be turned on their head: anyone fancy ruling that newspaper content should be regulated by government? All I know is that it’s lucky the EU doesn’t have anything more important to be worrying about like, oh, I don’t know, reversing over 2 years of economic incompetence and political cowardice.

Over in the US however, Google was claiming a win. In a battle with Oracle a judge found in Google’s favour in a key element of the case between the two companies when he ruled that Oracle couldn’t claim copyright on 37 APIs (an API is an application programming interface – every time you use a Facebook Like button on a site other than Facebook, you’re using an API).

Google had essentially argued that APIs were simply tools used to create programs rather than an actual program. As AllThingsD put it when the case launched:

Google has argued that APIs and programming languages aren’t entitled to copyright protection, for exactly that reason: You can copyright a given program because it’s unique, but you can’t copyright the language it’s written in. Perhaps I’m straining my skills at analogy here, but the way I understand Google’s argument, as put forth in an April 12 brief, is that you can copyright “So What?” but you can’t copyright “jazz.”

It seems like the judge was a Miles Davis fan, and this exquisite taste in music has probably saved Google millions of dollars.

Any thoughts on the content or format of this newsletter are more than welcome. L eave a comment, drop me a line on ciarannorris at gmail dot com, or tweet me.

*My ultimate employer, WPP, has a stake in Buddy, and it is the official social ad & profile management supplier for my immediate employer Mindshare.

Queen by marc falardeau on flickr

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