Adobe made a big splash with its $1.8 billion acquisition of Web analytics company Omniture. However, the logic behind the deal isn't exactly obvious.
On Adobe's fiscal third quarter conference call, analysts were pressing Adobe on its rationale for buying Omniture (Techmeme). The logic, according to CEO Shantanu Narayen goes like this:
What we found is that as we've been talking to our customers, it's clear that they would like us to do a lot more. For example, the chief digital officers that we talk to at media companies have been telling us that they want to understand which content was performing the best so that they could feature it more prominently and increase their ad revenue.
Advertisers and agencies were using Flash to produce rich ads but they were telling us that they really wanted to understand what the click-through rates of those ads were in real time, to be able to take more advantage of it.
Web developers, who've been using Adobe technologies to create these RIAs [Rich Internet applications] have said that they want to build intelligence so the site can automatically recommend the best products to drive higher conversion rates.
And so it clearly dawned on us that all of them want us to complete the loop between the offering part, the delivery part, and consumption, and they wanted Adobe to play this bigger role, which really for us was a natural extension of what we were trying to do to transform these experiences. And what was interesting was that a number of these customers actually wanted us to integrate with solutions like Omniture.
Narayen then added that Omniture would run as a separate business---Adobe's software as a services division. Future joint Adobe-Omniture products will come down the line. Narayen's comments above were the best you'd get out of Adobe on Omniture strategy. More details will come at Adobe's MAX conference in October.
Most acquisitions make sense right away---with the exception of eBay-Skype and we know how that turned out---but I had trouble wrapping my head around the Adobe-Omniture deal. After sleeping on it, I admit I still don't quite get the Omniture deal aside from the need for revenue diversification. This handy graphic didn't help me either.
At least I'm not alone. Analysts weren't exactly doing cartwheels over the Omniture purchase.
Cowen analyst Walter Pritchard writes in a research note:
The Macromedia acquisition in 2005 was well executed, but was also a clear strategic and operational fit. Omniture looks like more of a stretch to us. Omniture is the leader in its space and there is some synergy in optimizing web content created with Adobe tools. However, Omniture often sells to a different buyer and is geographically separated from Adobe (in Utah), complicating the integration.
Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar notes:
The combination will be complicated by the company’s differing business models. As a SaaS delivery model, Omniture recognizes revenue ratably over the life of a contract, where Adobe recognized revenue on a transactional basis.
But perhaps Adobe just wants to upsell Omniture's customer base, Deutsche Bank analyst Thomas Ernst Jr. adds:
The end-game appears to be the ability to combine analytical capabilities into the creative process vs. today’s approach of tagging web content after the content is created and deployed. We believe this is a strategic move that, in the near-term opens up Adobe’s significant global customer footprint to Omniture’s products, and in the long-term can represent an Adobe creative platform with embedded analytics, potentially a powerful differentiation.
Bottom line: Adobe's Omniture purchase isn't a slam dunk. The burden of proof regarding synergy, product roadmaps and Narayen's vision where analytics meets content creation rests with Adobe.