ADBE Acquires OMTR

As you've probably heard, Adobe Systems has announced acquisition of Omniture to the tune of $1.8B, the idea being that the move will revolutionize the digital media landscape by taking it in a direction where optimization technology can become embedded within asset creation tools used by designers and developers, integrated with the SaaS model which over the past decade has become the de-facto standard for Web Analytics solutions.

For Omniture it's a good deal in the sense that, after falling valuation over the past couple years, they now get to reposition for - or maybe drop out of - the enterprise analytics tier before Google makes a play at it more aggressively. With their having won the SMB tier, that's still an area that's more of a creeping incremental "when" than an "if." Omniture rallied their post-IPO growth by ramping up on acquisitions of smaller companies and absorbing their products, if not in a functionally integrated way then by at least re-packaging and then and at least sometimes additionally over-hyping as well as over-pricing them. Even before that period, the earliest indications of their transition from being a single-product vendor to a multi-product one were awkward. What eventually became pitched as the "Omniture Suite" never became a fully integrated system. For example, after several attempts I still can't get simple cross-usage between SiteCatalyst and Test & Target to work, for instance. Also, after purchasing Visual Sciences (previously WebSideStory) in late 2007 Omniture ultimately never demonstrated any real compelling fruits of that in their product offerings. It seemed to take a long time before InSight was offered which on the surface seemed mostly like a simple rebranding of the product. Over time the larger things like that and bugs along the way didn't bode well in terms of fore-shadowing Google-readiness. Meanwhile, at least to some degree, Google has been chipping away at the top end. I do know of a handful cases of people opting to shelve SC for GA in recent years. 3-4 years ago it was unheard of. 3-4 years is a long time on the Web.

For Adobe it's a pretty bold pitch. Now that they've bought the leading enterprise site analytics platform, the onus of changing the game is pretty heavy and will all come down to how well they can actually execute on this new way of thinking about Web Marketing processes. Having been a designer/developer before getting deeply into analytics, I think they're up against some big challenges in terms of trying to redefine and integrate how people think about and work in these overlapping nonetheless historically very different disciplines.

From the analyst's perspective my individual take is one of surprise and healthy skepticism. When Adobe bought up Macromedia that naturally solicited mixed reactions but there wasn't as much to debate in the logic. I was still holding out a little hope to see Omniture eventually put out a big, overhauled SiteCatalyst as a SaaS and/or installed model, essentially mining out and integrating what had been the functionally superior parts of Visual Sciences. Alas, t'wasn't gonna happen.

At a basic level I've loved and still love Omniture's tools, just as I have and still do Adobe's. Would I have ever guessed they'd get in bed together? Nah. Do I think it'll actually work out and end up being something really integrated rather than just diversified in terms of solutions offerings? I'll play devil's advocate and say maybe, just... maybe. As a user of web analytics tools going back to when there wasn't much else to choose from aside from Urchin and WebTrends, do I think it's good for the web analytics space in general? Probably not. More just a game changer that exists in theory until such time as it becomes demonstrably viable and sound in practice. At the least, it's a demonstration of how a larger company can find a way to keep things interesting if they can make the price right for a smaller vendor to buy up.

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