What the Adobe-Omniture Deal Means

  |  September 22, 2009   |  Comments

Adobe must not put its product integration interests ahead of what the rest of the market really needs.

Few were surprised when Omniture was acquired last week. The online marketing measurement and optimization space, which is growing rapidly, has become a must-have tool set for organizations with a considerable Web presence. Yet, many were surprised that Adobe was the acquirer.

Omniture has done a great job expanded its offerings, making its own acquisitions (Offermatica and TouchClarity -- now both part of Omniture Test & Target) and building internal tools (SearchCenter to manage paid search). As it expanded its offerings, Omniture also made sure the audience for its products is the same. There is a ton of overlap between Web analytics, site optimization, paid search bidding, and tracking, and most of these behaviors roll up into one part of an organization.

Key to Omniture's success: it continues to add solutions that it can sell to the same people who are pleased with its other products. Its acquisitions have been smart, well timed, and focused on improving its clients' online business performance. This isn't easy to do while maintaining focus on its core offering -- Omniture SiteCatalyst, but it has done that.

Now Omniture is being acquired instead of doing the acquiring. Can the move be seen as bringing the same type of growth and diversification to Adobe as Omniture has been doing with its acquisitions? Doubtful.

Yes, Adobe sells to those who create and manage Web properties as well. It definitely looks like a directional shift from Adobe.

Outside of improved integration for designers building the sites, there are a few positives and a couple of negatives that could from the Adobe-Omniture pairing. Jason Carmel, director of optimization at the interactive agency where I work, raised some interesting points. First, he said, this deal elevates Web analytics and optimizations exposure to designers who use Adobe's tools today.

"It will get more people interested in tracking and could make it easier for them to get involved in the measurement and performance aspect of the business," he said.

Because Adobe clearly has some plans to leverage Omniture, Carmel said he hopes Adobe doesn't try to steer Omniture's strategic direction and development plans based on what Adobe wants to see in terms of integration of Adobe products.

"We all hope Omniture continues to improve their overall product offering based on the overall needs of the market rather than their new parent company," he said.

As will any acquisition, time will tell. The level of integration will shape what this deal means for people using Omniture tools.

We welcome deeper integration between Omniture and other tools, such as Adobe Flash, to make tracking and testing easier. This will most likely be one of the benefits of this acquisition. But, as others have pointed out, too much noise and interference from Adobe into Omniture could cause Omniture to take its eye off the ball, lose focus, and slow down what has made it successful today.

Everyone involved is saying all the right things. They're talking about the pros and they say there won't be a lot of interference. They're making the case for synergies and the benefits of the deal.

As a reminder, there was NetIQ's acquisition of WebTrends in 2001. WebTrends lost its way for many years due to NetIQ's involvement. Omniture would be wise to learn from the lessons of that failed integration.

Ultimately WebTrends broke free from NetIQ and is once again back on track. Let's hope Omniture keeps its focus, keeps its priorities in place based on the market, continues to evolve, asks questions of and listens to its customers, and maintains the feel and attitude that got it there in the first place.

Hopefully, Omniture continues evolving and improving its offerings and keeps the focus on their customers. Please Adobe, don't put your product integration interests ahead of what the rest of the market really needs.

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Jason Burby

As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.

Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.

Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.

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