If the words “monetize your Internet application” set off bells in your head, then Adobe has some news for you: the software giant has announced a deal to acquire Web analytics firm Omniture in a transaction worth $1.8 billion. Omniture may not be a household name in the consumer marketplace, but rest assured Omniture has been paying attention to consumer households. The company specializes in Web analytics, tracking that users see, click, hover over, linger on, ignore, love, and use in Web sites and Internet applications. Marketers and application developers use the data to evaluate how visitors use their sites and applications; that information, in turn, helps determine things like advertising rates, whether sites and applications get funded, or whether a marketing campaign is successful with the audience an advertiser is trying to reach.
Adobe plans to integrate Omniture’s analytics and audience measurement technologies into its content creation tools—no specific tools were mentioned, but it’s safe to say that Adobe’s Flash and Air technologies will be high on the list.
“Adobe customers are looking to us for solutions to deliver engaging experiences and more effectively monetize their content and applications online,” said Adobe president and CEO Shantanu Narayen, in a statement. “This is a game changer for both Adobe and our customers. We will enable advertisers, media companies and e-tailers to realize the full value of their digital assets.”
Online analytics tracking is generally invisible to everyday Web users. Most of the technologies rely on loading URLs hosted by Web tracking firms, with the URL itself containing tracking information, such as a time stamp, what portion of a site or application a visitor is using, what sort of action they’re taking, and more. Thanks to Web 2.0 technologies like Ajax and JSON, analytics data can be reported back to tracking firms even when users just move their mouse over objects; in interactive technologies like Flash, any event which can trigger a script can also report analytics information. Analytics technologies are not inherently a violation of Web users’ privacy, but they are certainly open to abuse, and the data they collect is often used as the basis of behaviorally-targeted advertising, which is drawing increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.
Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture will not only enable the company to integrate Omniture tracking support directly into its content development tools, but will also set Adobe up with a revenue stream from offering Omniture’s tracking services to third parties looking to watch how people use their sites and applications. According to Omniture, their systems currently track more than a trillion transactions per quarter.
Adobe expects the deal will close by November, 2009; once complete, Omniture will operate as a new business unit within Adobe, with Omniture CEO Josh James working as a senior VP reporting to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.
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