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I'm a partner in the advanced analytics group at Bain & Company, the global management consulting firm. My primary focus is on marketing analytics (bio). I've been writing here (views my own) about marketing, technology, e-business, and analytics since 2003 (blog name explained).

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September 17, 2009

#Adobe + #Omniture: Further Thoughts ( #Analytics )

I've been following the Web Analytics Forum on Yahoo! -- David Simmons' ideas here are especially thoughtful -- and I listened to the Q3 Adobe con call.  Plus last night at Web Analytics Wednesday in Cambridge I had a chance to talk about it with VisualIQ CTO Anto Chittilappilly and Visible Measures' Tara Chang.  Here are some further ideas based on what I've read and heard so far:

  • Rich media -- video, interactive ads, etc. -- are a growing piece of the Internet experience. (Google's rumored acquisition of Brightcove reflects this.)  (The flip side: Semphonic CEO Gary Angel writes that "It's taking a long time, but HTML is dying.")
  • Since they're growing, tracking user interactions with them effectively is increasingly important, not just on the Internet but across platforms, and as the CIMM challenge to Nielsen suggests, not yet well addressed.
  • User tracking in rich media platforms like Flash is more granular and more persistent than cookie-based tracking (David Simmons explains how and recommends Eric Peterson's Web Site Measurement Hacks for more).
  • But, support for event-based tracking of users' interactions in rich internet media in existing web analytics platforms is in its infancy (though vendors say otherwise).
  • So, publishers want tighter, simpler integration of event-based tracking.
  • In the con call, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen mentions the framework "Create - Deploy - Optimize" as a way to understand their overall product roadmap vision.
  • Adobe has the "Create" (e.g., Photoshop, this part of their business is ~60% of their revenues) and "Deploy" (e.g., Flash Server / Flash Player) pieces covered.  But "Optimize" was still uncovered, up until this announcement.
That's the product strategy logic.  The financial logic:
  • Adobe is too dependent on the "Create" leg of their stool, and hasn't been able to monetize the "Deploy" piece as much as they might have hoped -- removing  license fees from the Open Screen Project is one recent example of this limitation.  So they're betting that "Optimize" has legs, and that buying Omniture in this economic climate at ~5x revenues is good timing.
  • Adobe's traditional software-licensing business model has gotten crushed year to year.  Omniture's revenues are >90% recurring subscriptions based on a SAAS model.  Adobe revenues (~$3B) are 10x Omniture's but the enhanced value proposition of the A-O integration and cross-selling through Adobe's sales force will accelerate O's growth.  Over the next 2-3 years, this will help to reduce the volatility of A's revenues / revenue growth.

What's ahead?  One direction, as I've previously discussed, is that the workflows associated with "Create-Deploy-Optimize" are increasingly complex, and that platforms that support these workflows in a simple, more integrated way will become important to have.  Managing these processes through hairballs built with Excel spreadsheets scattered across file servers just won't cut it.

Postscript: Eric Peterson's take.  And more from him.  The gist -- not so high on Omniture's relative value to customers and the experience of working with them, and not sure why Adobe did this.  Anil Batra has some interesting ideas for product directions that emerge from the combination.

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