Analytics Meets Behavioral Targeting and Personalization

If you didn’t catch the news, Omniture acquired Touch Clarity, a Web site personalization firm last week.

Touch Clarity’s product automates on-site behavioral targeting in real time with predictive modeling, data mining, and machine learning. The deal should help Omniture’s customers automate their site personalization efforts.

And so convergence has begun, just as I predicted a few weeks ago. I just wish I could claim responsibility for driving the market forward (don’t the leaders of companies like Omniture look to this column for their business strategy?).

Such convergence is inevitable. It matters as much to the marketers and managers who use the technology as it does to the companies that produce it. Convergence drives both simplicity and functionality.

Omniture is certainly a leader in the Web analytics space, and its acquisition of Touch Clarity is a natural extension of the existing business model. The company knew it made more sense to acquire a sophisticated early market leader than to try to develop the technology itself.

The combination of the Omniture suite and Touch Clarity (note that “combination” doesn’t mean “integration,” which is a larger challenge ahead) will enable people to take real action on their analytics.

We so often hear from industry analysts that their internal clients (marketers, site designers, builders, product managers, etc.) aren’t paying attention. Nor are they taking action on analytics data. The reality is most organizations, big and small, don’t have a technology platform that allows them to make changes to their sites in a simple, flexible manner. Therefore, the potential ROI (define) of your analytics investment is 0 percent, unless you start making changes to the online customer experience. Omniture and its competitors must continue such integration and consolidation to enable marketers to do what they want to do: market.

This merger (and I believe it’s the first of several) begins to realize the promise of relationship marketing the Web should deliver every day, for every marketer. We’re still a long way from that reality.

Warning! Bumps Ahead

So far, so good. But I’m a bit skeptical of Omniture’s outright claim of delivering “automated revenue and profit lift.” This is a bit far-reaching, and clearly more marketing hyperbole than demonstrated results. Great marketing is a blend of art and science. Getting the ratio right is what makes the difference between effective and poor marketers.

Omniture sales reps, be careful. Don’t make unrealistic and improper claims. Don’t oversimplify this as a technology-only solution for a marketing and business problem. As a public company, Omniture has to provide some reasonable assurances its claims aren’t overstated. Still, I can almost hear the pitch now: “Buy Touch Clarity and you’ll automatically get higher profits through higher conversion.”

Marketing and communication strategies remain paramount. Fortunately, technologies to optimize the online experience enable better marketing through greater targeting, flexibility, relevance, and analysis.

Don’t overcomplicate. Start small. Incremental is king. Achieve and build momentum. Following these simple rules allows you to extract the maximum value from any technology, whether it’s Touch Clarity, Offermatica, Kefta, or Google Website Optimizer. Convergence should benefit the marketer as well as the market.

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