What Does Adobe's Omniture Buy Mean for Openness?

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-09-16 Print this article Print

Adobe's $1.8 billion acquisition of Omniture signals the move toward more "smart" Web content and applications that provide analytics information for developers and designers. But what does this particular deal mean in terms of openness? Will it mean more lock-in for developers?

Adobe's $1.8 billion acquisition of Omniture signals the move toward more "smart" Web content and applications that provide analytics information for developers and designers.

Adobe announced its plans to acquire Omniture on Sept. 15 in a deal valued at nearly $2 billion to integrate Adobe's creative design tools with Omniture's Web analytics technology.

But why is this important? Despite explanations from the leadership of both companies, several observers continue to ask what it all means. What does Adobe gain?

Alex Yoder, CEO of WebTrends, a Web analytics company similar to Omniture, called Adobe's acquisition of Omniture "a gold ring for the entire Web analytics and measurement industry."

Indeed, Yoder added:

"The days of best-guess marketing and business investments are well and truly over. Companies are demanding quantifiable results from their marketing and other business investments, and want to be able to consistently use the insight they gain from their Web analytics and other measurement tools to improve the performance of their Website, online campaigns and other marketing investments."

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said as much when discussing the acquisition on a call with analysts.

"What we found is customers would like us to do more. They wanted us to help them understand which media content was performing the best and to understand click-through rates on ads," among other things, he said. Narayen also said developers asked for help in building intelligence up front in Web applications so they can be better tracked and optimized.

However, despite seeing the absolute value in adding analytics capabilities to its lineup, Yoder questions Adobe's apparent strategy of aspiring to an Omniture-only solution as the analytics engine of choice for Adobe-created content.

Yoder told eWEEK: "Over time we would assume that hooks will be built into the Adobe family of products [Flash native tagging, etc.] however it would not be advantageous for Adobe to exclusively integrate with Omniture as most business rely on many marketing tools to drive optimization and require the ability for cross platform integration."

Added Yoder in his blog post:

"Approaches to marketing and other business matters differ from industry to industry. Even businesses in the same industry located on different ends of the same block are likely to assemble vastly different IT and marketing tools. In fact, it's not uncommon for different teams within the same company to use different tools from multiple vendors. One-size-fits-all, single-vendor solutions simply don't address such diverse needs. Open systems fueled by standards-based data integration will pave the road forward."

The desire to be able to analyze, monitor and optimize Web content is nothing new. Bringing it to the front end of the development process is novel. Microsoft has added a capability for its Silverlight rich Internet application (RIA) platform that enables the tracking of Silverlight-based content.

A post on the Microsoft Silverlight team blog said:

"Silverlight enables agencies and advertisers to create, launch, measure and quickly respond to online advertising campaigns featuring superior user engagement, discoverability and analytics-driven accountability. Silverlight supports all leading advertising scenarios, including linear pre-rolls, post-rolls, interstitials as well as non-linear tickers, bugs and transparent overlays and unparalleled scalability for online video."

Meanwhile, some observers say a key goal of Adobe's has been to simplify the embedding of ads into Flash content and providing analytics for that scenario. The Omniture acquisition enables that. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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