10 Web Analytics Industry Speculations

It is by now fair to say that everyone was caught off-guard when Adobe announced it’s acquisition of Omniture. There’s also been no shortage of opinions and commentaries about the acquisition: those who like it and those who don’t. By and large, most customers that we’re dealing with are somewhat neutral, as Adobe is a strong company that has successfully integrated the Macromedia products into its offerings. Of course Omniture’s business model is so different than Adobe’s that it remains to be seen how the acquisition goes.

Instead of providing commentary on the acquisition, we decided to take a different approach and provide some speculation (not predictions) about the market to come. Some are outright outrageous and they’re primarily for amusement purposes.

1. PDF Tracking becomes available

With Adobe owning both the PDF standard and the measurement technology of Omniture, tracking PDF usage finally becomes a reality. This will benefit the industry greatly and has been a feature that’s been requested for a long time, but technological hurdles have alaways made it difficult to pull off.

2. Adobe offers free web analytics

If Adobe’s plan is to compete with Google, then it’ll have to offer a free or a very low-cost analytics solution. However, this is unlikely to happen on the SiteCatalyst platform which is both expensive to maintain and difficult to implement and support using a free model. A better choice would be the HBX platform. Could we be seeing HBX making a comeback and being offered for free? If so, how would former HBX customers react?

3. Microsoft buys Webtrends

I have to admit we were expecting to see someone else like Microsoft acquire Omniture. Microsoft has already made an attempt to compete with Google Analytics when it acquired DeepMetrix. Although Microsoft Analytics did not pan out as expected, we still think that Microsoft will enter the analytics space. At this point Webtrends seems to be the most likely candidate for acquisition by Microsoft since Webrends also offers a SaaS product that can be repackaged by Microsoft.

4. SiteCatalyst adopts Flash cookies

We all know the limitations of regular cookies. Flash shared objects provide a more reliable way of measuring unique visitors. The adoption means a more accurate web analytics reporting and a more efficient way to measure uniques. Like all new technologies, Adobe will have to overcome the privacy PR, but if done correctly, the industry will benefit from a proper adoption of the technology.

5. Adobe to acquire an ad serving company

One of the main things that Adobe gets by acquiring Omniture is a diversification in its product line. Adobe’s core offerings have been on the decline for some time now and it needs to enter growing markets. Digital Marketing is one such area, but to compete with Google and Microsoft, it’ll have to offer its own ad serving technology, since Google and Microsoft have both acquired DoubleClick and Atlas respectively.

6. SiteCatalyst 15 UI in Flex

This is more of a wishful thinking. Flex provides a great technology for building application user interfaces. One way to start integrating the technologies is to build the next generation SiteCatalyst UI completely in Flex. There are some upcoming analytics solutions that are built completely in Flex and the technology has proven to provide a great deal of flexibility and customization that otherwise would not be possible in HTML interfaces.

7. SiteCatalyst CS5?

Purely speculative we admit. It would be interesting though to think what a software version would look like. What is likely though would be an interface directly inside Dreamweaver and Flash where designers could see the performance of their content and their effectiveness, allowing them to make quick edits based on data. That’s after all the value proposition that the acquisition is promising to provide.

8. Quark buys Coremetrics

OK, I admit, this is very unlikely, but certainly amusing. For those of you who’ve been following Adobe for years, their top competitor in desktop publishing has been Quark, developers of Quark XPress. Quark still owns a large percentage of the desktop publishing market, but it’s a company on the decline, since desktop publishing is dying. What if Quark decided to diversify? Again, this is pure speculation and mainly entered for amusement purposes.

9. Adobe sells Visual Sciences assets

The big question mark is what’s going to happen to Visual Science (Discover On Premise or Omniture Insight) customers? We haven’t seen much discussion about that specific technology, but the engagements are far too consultative for Adobe to be interested in. It makes more sense for Adobe to sell off that technology to a BI company such as Business Objects, which would be a better fit.

10. Adobe sells Omniture

Key to any acquisition is that there are so many synergies that 1+1=3. Many are still scratching their heads to find the synergies and if Omniture continues to be a completely separate business unit, then it definitely remains to be seen. So what if the synergies don’t exist? If the only value proposition that Adobe is going after is integration of analytics into Dreamweaver and Flash, then the synergies are minimal since you can very easily integrate other analytics into those platforms today. In that case could we see Adobe sell the business unit? Again this is very unlikely because of the premium that Adobe paid for Omniture but as of today, the number of doubters is more than the number of believers.

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