In a week when...

  |  September 18, 2009   |  Comments

I'm settling into my new role at Search Engine Watch, ClickZ and Search Engine Strategies

I'm settling into my new role at Search Engine Watch, ClickZ and Search Engine Strategies. I'm meeting lots of new people and digging my way out of a lot of paperwork and red tape. In between, the industry has been ticking along and I've hardly had a moment to notice what has been going on. I thought it may be a good idea to have a reflection on a few things that certainly did catch my attention this week.

So, in a week when...

Adobe announced its potential acquisition of Omniture, a seemingly startled industry furrowed its brow and said: "What?"

Generally speaking, most commentary I've seen since the announcement has been based around the fact that, they can't seem to find where the fit is. Obviously, with a $1.8 billion price attached to Omniture, this is less than likely to have been an impulse purchase!

If we saw an announcement saying "Google buys Twitter" there'd hardly be a furrowed brow in sight. Or if we saw "Microsoft buys Google" we'd likely be more interested in the purchase price than, what to many, may be an obvious fit.

There are many reasons why companies get acquired by another larger company. It's not always about the fit. Over the years I've seen many acquisitions where there didn't seem to be an exact fit and yet the outcome has been totally positive and profitable. There's a case quite simply for diversity. Both Adobe and Omniture are recognized technology leaders in their respective markets, for instance. And you know, sometimes a company which simply has better management and a clearer vision of the future can take a company and turn its fortunes around to the advantage of all.

I'm not sure at all what the decisive reason (or combination of reasons) was for them wanting to go ahead and ink such a big deal. But I seem to be less surprised about the deal than most are.

There have always been the inherent problems with Flash and the web. Flash is alien to the browser so it has to be "plugged in." Trying to use analytics to track users in Flash has been very difficult by virtue of the fact that you stream an entire movie (complete with its own navigation) in one go, as opposed to page-by-page. Flash became a notorious search engine optimization enemy because it refused to rely on text and preferred glorious vector graphics. What's a search engine like Google going to index? Loading... Loading... Loading. Or maybe: "Skip movie."

However, for a short while, the use of Flash cookies was a major boon to the analytics industry which was desperately looking for a method to replace HTML cookies which end users have a habit of deleting. But more recently Adobe has graduated Flash from a purely streaming graphics medium to a platform in its own right.

At a time when clients demand much more customized dashboards for presenting the most actionable insights, the more the Flex platform (Adobe AIR, Flex Developer Tools, Flash Media Servers and the ubiquitous Flash Player) has gained popularity (it's all been renamed Flash Platform now BTW).

And Adobe's Dreamweaver product has long been a favored developers tool. What if, for the purpose of better analytics, the tool kicked out pages which were already tagged and ready to go? Who knows?

Heck, there's a lot of conversation about apps and how big they are becoming as marketing tools. Many of these apps quite simply sidestep the browser (mobile apps, for instance). Developing apps and suitable analytics tools is going to be a major part of marketing's future. In fact, just today HP announced a new non-PC device for pulling in stuff from the internet which doesn't need a browser. How do we know who's looking at that thing?

Of course, I'm just thinking aloud, as usual. As we look at HTML and the HTTP protocol and wonder what the next platform is likely to be, many in the developer community have mooted Flash as an alternative. And as we consider an internet which was invented more than 30 years ago, maybe it's time for a shift from the IP protocol to something new. Certainly these guys in Germany are thinking seriously about this.

In fact, there's a whole lot of speculation about what happens next with the web which is fascinating. So maybe, in their secret meetings, Adobe and Omniture realized that the potential for both companies is somewhere way down the line and not necessarily at this precise moment?

The stock market saw a slip in the price of Adobe shares while Omniture soared. I hang a lot with our cousins in the analytics field and heard some time ago that Omniture was being shopped around. And no, I probably would never have guessed at Adobe as a potential purchaser. But hey, if both companies can carry on and grow in the market place together, I don't know that I'm so worried about whether there's a perfect fit at this time.

In a week when...

I spend a lot of time looking at the industry wondering how and where social search is going to emerge as an obvious development and verified search tool. One place where there's a lot of activity is over at Aardvark who just released their own app (it can be downloaded from the iTunes store).

In a week when...

Having hung up my ClickZ columnist hat I was forced to find time to write another final column. Until I find a replacement for myself I have to fill what would have been a lot of empty white digital space. The column is focused on real time search. Because I couldn't squeeze in the tons of stuff I've been looking at recently, I simply highlighted a couple of great living experiments. Certainly one well worth a much deeper look at is the IBM/BBC Sound Index venture.

In a week when...

The SES team pulled together the initial session grid for Chicago. Yes, here's a hint of the flavor of the show coming up in December. And lots more to come.

Wow! It's Friday evening -- I'm outta here!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Grehan

Mike Grehan is currently chief marketing officer and managing director at Acronym, where he is responsible for directing thought leadership programs and cross-platform marketing initiatives, as well as developing new, innovative content marketing campaigns.

Prior to joining Acronym, Grehan was group publishing director at Incisive Media, publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ, and producer of the SES international conference series. Previously, he worked as a search marketing consultant with a number of international agencies handling global clients such as SAP and Motorola. Recognized as a leading search marketing expert, Grehan came online in 1995 and is the author of numerous books and white papers on the subject and is currently in the process of writing his new book From Search to Social: Marketing to the Connected Consumer to be published by Wiley later in 2014.

In March 2010 he was elected to SEMPO's board of directors and after a year as vice president he then served two years as president and is now the current chairman.

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