Thoughts on Adobe + Omniture

Published by Eric T. Peterson on September 15, 2009 All posts from Eric T. Peterson

Wow, I have to admit that I was surprised mid-day today at a new client meeting in Chicago when, at the same moment, my phone, my SMS, and my email all went off at the same time. When we got to a break I quickly glanced down and the SMS message said “Adobe buys OMTR for $1.8B!!!!!!”


I didn’t get to talk to the press (John got the honors, congrats) and am just not getting a chance to cogitate a little on what Adobe’s entrance to the web analytics market means after non-stop phone calls for the past five hours.  A lot of interesting comments have already been published so I will try and reference the stuff I think is insightful in an effort to avoid repetition.

  • In general, the more I think about the deal the more it makes sense, at least for Omniture. Given increasing pressure from lower-cost (and free) solutions, the economy, and a customer base that is more and more prone to complain about service issues and the high cost of doing business with the company, exiting now makes good sense.  Why fight the sea change in the analytics market when you can saddle someone else with the responsibility?
  • Like others, I don’t really see the synergy in the deal, but I admit that I love Adobe and so I’m willing to be surprised. I think of Adobe as a software company for creative types; Omniture sells software-as-a-service to analytical types; these are different business models and very different customers. The idea that somehow this acquisition bolsters Adobe’s position in content management or as a global delivery platform just doesn’t resonate with me.
  • Similarly, I don’t see this acquisition as creating anything new regarding measurement being embedded into rich media applications. Thanks, perhaps ironically, to Macromedia (owned by Adobe) we have been embedding tracking codes into Flash, Flex, Silverlight, AJAX, etc. for years … and while the integration is botched as often as not, I don’t see how adding a “Click here to Omniture-ize” button into Dreamweaver and Adobe’s RIA development suite will solve that problem.
  • I do agree with Alex Yoder’s general thesis that this acquisition increases the overall visibility of the sector and that this is a good thing. I also agree that this acquisition is likely not the last — both WebTrends and Coremetrics are owned by investors and you know how those guys are. His citation of Microsoft and Oracle is interesting given both companies historical interest in the sector (although neither has had the chutzpa to actually pull the trigger — at least in a substantial way.)
  • I also agree with Gary who is somewhat skeptical about acquisitions, especially out-of-sector ones like this (anyone remember NetIQ? How about you Deepmetrics customers?) and since the Instadia, HBX, and Visual Sciences acquisitions that Omniture made didn’t really generate the benefits promised. However, where Gary favored IBM (who I didn’t realize wanted back into the sector after selling SurfAid to Coremetrics) I liked the idea of WPP increasing their $25M investment by, well, I guess about $1775M or so. Given my position on how companies will deploy web analytics in the future, WPP adding a premium measurement brand to their analytics tools and giving them the ability to pass world-class analytics along to their best customers made sense to me. Oh well.

Regarding Omniture customers … I am getting feedback from across the spectrum. Some customers are encouraged by the news, largely because they believe that Adobe will bring a new level of rigor to product development, integration, and customer support.  Others (including those customers still on HBX) are somewhat discouraged by the news, given that they’ve been hearing a lot of promises lately and they’re not sure what a new owner will mean.  Still others have expressed that they really liked what the company had been doing this past year and so are bummed that things might slow down while the deal and integration are completed.

Prospects are a different question. Since I am working with a number of companies currently evaluating Omniture products … the best guidance I can give is “wait and see.” Again, I think Adobe is an awesome company and every interaction I have ever had with them has been positive. Hopefully this acquisition will be mostly painless and largely transparent to outsiders. We’ll know soon enough if Omniture’s recent aggressive pricing and willingness to cut deals to close business differs from Adobe’s business practices. And while competitors will almost certainly claim “Omniture is out of the game,” I am personally encouraging my clients to think carefully about what Omniture and Adobe have been able to do independently before writing the combined company off.

At the end of the day I’m really happy for the bright folks I know who have been plugging away at Omniture all these years in a variety of their companies. The teams at Omniture, HBX and Visual Sciences, Offermatica, and hell even Matt Belkin (remember that guy!) who hopefully get to participate in the largess that Omniture has created should all get credit for the thousands of hours they spent on the road, fighting for the big green machine, never willing to concede until they’d finally lost (and sometimes even after they’d been asked to go home!)

Congratulations to Josh, Chris, Brett, John, Kristi, and the entire senior management team at Omniture! Also, best of luck to the management team at Adobe with your new acquisition; your new customers are among the best in the business and will look to you to make a good thing even better.

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  • Ryan

    I’ve read a lot of different thoughts on the acquisition and I tend to agree more with yours. Time will tell the success of this move, but a squeeze of some kind may have played a part. I’m concerned for the morale of previously fellow omniture employees. Josh was certainly shooting for the moon, but now it seems they’ve had to jump on a different rocket ship. I’m still puzzled at why.

  • Trinadh

    Interesting move. As Eric mentioned Adobe is a software company and Omniture is a SAAS, I am really looking forward to see how it will be positioned in future…

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  • Richard

    Hi Eric

    Certainly didn’t see this coming over the other side of the pond. As with a lot of people, I do find this a strange takeover. I’ve seen Omniture make an effort to expand vertically (Visual Workstation) & horizontally (Offermatica & Mercado) over the past few years & also creating their own marketing solutions, but at least these are all in the web analysis/behavioural/merchandising/marketing space & all acquistions & new builds offered a SaaS product which ran on essentially quantified data, but it’s come a little out of the blue that a software company, known first & foremost for its creative software would snap them up.

    I’m sure it offers more stability in a time of unease, but it still baffles me. I suppose a plus point is that they may fix the formatting of the pdf reports…

  • Pingback: Adobe compra Omniture por 1.800 millones de dólares | Trucos Optimización

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  • Joe Teixeira

    Thank you for your thoughts, Eric. Your blog was the first one that popped up in my feed reader program and you have a very good breakdown of what it all means for our industry. I still don’t even know what to think yet but it’s going to make for some excitement in the coming months, that’s for sure!

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  • Dave Greenberg

    Your thoughts are salient and concise. I do agree that it seems a little strange to have two software companies, one creative and one analytical joining forces, but I have to assume that these folks really know what they are in for. I know that Josh is a very smart guy and built Omniture from the ground up very quickly. I also assume that Adobe is a sharp company knowing their history and past acquisitions. Again, I am assuming that their is some brilliant plan behind all of this that is over the heads of all of us ‘mere mortals’. I’m sure Adobe had big plans for Omniture when they signed the papers and vetted all of the pros/cons. Let’s just wait and see what they pull off. But wait, didn’t we say that when eBay bought Skype? Hmmmmm.

  • Elizabeth Magill

    Hi Eric,

    This shocked the heck out of me. Did not see it coming, but I’m kinda dumb that way (either that or I’ve been out of the WA space for 6 months).

    I do see the fit, although one that will have to be “grown” into. While the user is quite different, both Omni and Adobe sell to the marketing department. Bundle the technologies and get a larger, more strategic sale and relationship. Build in integration and you add actual value. Add more capabilities through add’l acquisitions and you have a full-fledged marketing suite (coming at it from a different direction than we see w/ Unica, but still a set of technology aimed at marketing).

    Seems to me that this will further commoditizes the WA market. Will be interesting to see what this does to the remaining players. As you said, you know how investors are.


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  • Joy

    Great post, Eric! Thanks for bringing the other Big Dogs’ thoughts to the post as well.
    I am excited at this opportunity. We are still distinguishing between software and SaaS, but I think we can see applications merging together in the near future. Having a creative company and an analytical company can be a really cool thing.
    Lately, I have been touting that a good web analyst has some inherent creativity and good creatives have that twinge of logic in their heads. If Adobe can increase Omniture’s UI, customer service, and product enhancements and integrations, I think Adobe can benefit from having a tool for measuring how users like their existing and new tools.
    I agree that it also helps the web analytics field in general, and I can’t wait to see what happens next with the other tools out there. Thanks again for a great post!

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  • Steve Jackson

    Hi Eric,

    As you can see from my post earlier I don’t think Adobe and Omniture will have much problem integrating but I do think they will have the same problems getting the tools adopted. As we both know it’s not a technical problem its a cultural one. Still, I admire Adobe’s boldness.


  • Andrew Rickard

    I wonder what this means with regard to intgrating web analytics data into the enterprise data warehouse. Adobe doesn’t seem like the type of infrastructure company with the skills to push this vision through. I guess we’ll have to wait and see though.

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  • eric

    Bleh, I have been so busy this week I am just now getting to people’s comments, sorry about that! Thanks to everyone participating in the conversation here, via email, and in Twitter.

    Ryan and Richard: You are certainly not alone pondering where synergies exist between these two companies. Increasingly it looks like an opportunity for Omniture to cash out and Adobe to pick up some recurring revenue — neither of which provide value to Omniture customers.

    Dave: Agreed. Josh James is one of the smartest, most aggressive CEOs I have ever met. I don’t know Adobe’s CEO but I assume he is similarly brilliant. And I very much hope you are correct in your assumption that there is a “brilliant plan” behind all this that will become more clear to us mortals as time passes.

    Elizabeth: Great to hear from you again! While I agree with you in spirit (both companies sell to marketing) I see a huge gap between Adobe’s “tactical” sell and Omniture’s more strategic, quasi-Enterprise approach. I say quasi-Enterprise because, and we’ve been through this before, I just don’t think that the way many companies in our sector have sold historically was really “Enterprise” sales a la Accenture and big iron (but perhaps that sales model is a thing of the past, who knows!?)

    In terms of increasing the commodity nature of the market, it certainly has that potential. While I very much doubt we will ever see “free SiteCatalyst” if Adobe does this right they do have the potential to increase Omniture’s footprint and effectively reduce the total number of competitors/choices in the market. I’m sure your old bosses are thinking that over … ;-)

    Joy: Agreed, Adobe has a great opportunity to improve the SiteCatalyst UI, customer support, and integration framework. Fantastic opportunity, really. And yes, any change this substantial will impact the market forever.

  • eric

    Andrew: Yeah, a fair number of folks I have talked to have expressed disappointment that Oracle, SAS, SAP, or one of the true “Enterprise software” vendors didn’t step up when Omniture put themselves out there. Perhaps the economy, perhaps the price, perhaps the teams — who knows — but the Adobe acquisition doesn’t really appear to do much in terms of driving the vision of a single, analytical culture within the Enterprise.

    Oh well. ;-)

  • Pingback: » Why Adobe bought Omniture? Making sense where it no seems to be none.

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  • CJ Boguszewski

    Hi everyone,

    Good blog, and good comments. The space is certainly in need of innovation to come together and find new markets.

    We have our own view of events in the space at if you’d like to take a look (don’t want to re-publish wholesale).

    Best, CJ

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  • Daniel Sevitt

    I think we’re all waiting to see how this one plays out, but the consensus seems to be that it’s good for the world of analytics and represents a part of the world sitting up and taking notice. Our CEO, Oren Harnevo, blogged about it here and we even mocked up a new logo for the company!

  • Thomas Molitor

    The sellers of competing vendors of Omniture have told me for years “Omniture” buys business. Now, I believe them. Omniture lost $47 million on $295 million sales last report. You can’t be profitable on $295 million of sales I ask? Adobe paid $1.8 billion for Omniture, a 6 x price on unprofitable sales? Justified on the vision that content developers can now embed tagging from the start? You bet it’s a good deal for Josh and Omniture. Financially. I just don’t see the integration – either in product and sales orgs – to will create a higher business value that will attain the ROI on the part of Adobe to justify the price it paid.

  • Pingback: Experts puzzled over Adobe’s surprise purchase of Omniture | Richard Hartley


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