Meltwater Buys Ice Rocket For Pro Social Monitoring

The news monitoring service Meltwater is branching out in to social media monitoring, after its core business of crawling professional news sites was made more expensive by new industry fees.

Meltwater is acquiring Ice Rocket – which can search blogs, tweets, Facebook and more for free – and will integrate it in to Meltwater Buzz, its own commercial social search service.

Terms aren’t disclosed. Ice Rocket got angel funding from Mark Cuban in 2004. All Ice Rocket staff will become Meltwater staff and Ice Rocket will continue to operate.

“This acquisition represents an important step toward achieving our goal of generating $100 million in social media business within three years,” says Meltwater CEO Jørn Lyseggen.

As part of Meltwater Buzz, Ice Rocket “will provide access to more sophisticated capabilities, such as measuring and analysing social engagement and influence”, its founder Blake Rhodes says.

Ice Rocket was formed in 2004 and had always played second fiddle or worse to Technorati through the heyday of blogging. But, whilst Technorati has paled whilst remaining a themed blog index, Ice Rocket has broadened in to general social site search.

Meltwater in 2010 bought BuzzGain to build out this new business line, and also added JitterJam this March.

The company has unsuccessfully protested one of two new license fees introduced by UK newspapers for using headlines, links and excerpts in the intelligence it sends its PR industry clients. Meltwater has agreed to pay a license levied against commercial news aggregators like itself but, together with the PR industry, objects to fees required from aggregators’ clients themselves.

The UK High Court recently upheld the newspapers’ decision and the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the PR industry, meaning Meltwater News clients must pay extra to receive Meltwater’s service.

Meltwater is by no means abandoning its news monitoring service, which is says has made it a “$100 million company”. The suggestion is that adding social media monitoring could double the company’s value.

Social media content comes with no such mandated license fee. But it will be interesting to see if any clamour grows for one.