As we just broke on TNW, Google has acquired Meebo and it will be joining the Google+ team. This makes complete sense for a lot of reasons, especially given Meebo’s 7 years of experience in chat.
The real reason isn’t just Meebo’s cool technology and experience with the actual chat interface, it’s because Meebo found a way to actually monetize chat.
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The service introduced a bar that any publisher or business owner could integrate into the experience of their site, without screwing up the chat experience. The advertising revenue it generated without screwing up that experience was quite impressive, and it was the only company that truly nailed it.
By offering new advertising opportunities in and around a chat experience, Meebo created a whole new ad-unit and more real estate that site owners had before. That’s pretty unique, and that’s why Google coveted the service.
Does that mean that Google+ and GChat will start filling up with ads right away? Probably not, but I would expect that the company will start to experiment with different rich-media and high-quality advertising options in and around the chat experience.
While I have no inside knowledge if there were other companies vying to purchase Meebo, you have to believe that Facebook was taking a serious look at the company and its team. Facebook is looking for new ways to monetize social experiences, including mobile, and Meebo has been able to do just that.
Take a look at the ad units that Meebo has been pushing to its iPhone client, which are very similar to Apple’s iAds:
So if you’re wondering why Google would bother poking around at a “chat client”, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Advertising IP and experience is what made Meebo so valuable. Google’s a fan of that type of thing.