Archive for October, 2009

Adobe + Omniture = TLA?

While waiting in the Oakland airport for my flight (Tip:  The San Francisco airport is the devil) the implications and reality of a potential acquisition by Adobe started to sink in.  With only my fellow irritated travelers to entertain me, I took the opportunity to give Josh a call and update him on my latest conversations with Adobe.  “The good news,” I told him, “is that this might really make sense.”  “The bad news,” I continued, “is that   >oh CRAP<   this might really make sense.”

I’ve been at Omniture for over a decade now.  I don’t think it will surprise anyone to hear that an acquisition by Adobe was not actually on my todo checklist.  I love Omniture.  Things have not always been easy, in fact rarely so.  But just like the disastrous family vacations that remain the most salient of my memories, it is the challenge that has made this journey so endearing.  We’ve had the perfect mix of good fortunate and good judgment (heavy on the fortune) and have realized tremendous success thus far.  I feel so grateful to have been a part of all this.  But at the same time, in many ways it also felt like we were just getting started.  I looked forward to adding Omniture to the relatively short list of software companies that can claim the honor of achieving over a billion dollars of revenue per year.

At first, it seemed to me that this vision was interrupted by Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture.  But as I’ve thought about it more and more, it may well be that the only reason I didn’t actually include this on the road map is that it would have been irresponsible of me to count on the boost that Adobe could well provide on our way to achieving our billion-dollar revenue goal.

The online marketing space is rife with opportunity.  Today there exist innumerable point solutions that help the online marketer be successful.  Unfortunately, as the need to deliver increasingly relevant results compounds, while the complexity of the online marketing landscape space grows, point solutions are becoming inadequate.  Tomorrow’s digital marketers will need to not only understand how their potential customers are interacting with their content, but also be able to improve the efficiency of those messages.  They need to find increasingly proficient means to advertise and acquire new customers.  They must improve the way they communicate with those potential customers to march them towards success.  In short, the extent of their effectiveness is going to be increasingly dependent on their ability to see, understand, and influence the entire marketing life-cycle.  It will become increasingly imperative that the tools marketers use leverage the effort and insight from the stages occurring earlier in the process to maximize the return at each subsequent stage.  My customers need a complete end-to-end solution that is designed to maximize and optimize yield at each step…  The notion of measuring and improving performance should permeate every step of the process.

This is the promise of an Adobiture:  A complete, end-to-end marketing suite of tools that optimizes customer engagement from the earliest phases of the creative process all the way through the final conversion and remarketing events.

So I’m thrilled to find that while the account number on my paycheck may have changed, my overall strategic goal and mission has not.  In fact, Adobe has applied quite an accelerant:  I now have better access to the individuals who live and breathe the problems I’m trying to solve– to the people with whom I’m hoping to collaborate and who will ultimately pass judgment on the solutions I am building.  I have the opportunity to integrate into the tools used in the creative process.  Instead of making measurement and optimization an afterthought, as is all too common in today’s online marketing process, I can help bake in the notion from very outset.  Finally, if having one of the cornerstone technologies for delivering the rich internet experiences (aka Flash), in my technical portfolio doesn’t prime my ability to delight customers with an improved online experience while simultaneously speeding them towards their sponsor’s definition of success, I don’t know what possibly could.

Are there risks?  Will Omniture wind up a mangled mess of red-marred green in Adobe’s wake?  Sure, it is possible.  Many of us (perhaps I should more accurately say many of you) learned in business school how deeply the statistical deck is stacked against this working:  the vast majority of acquisitions end up being neutral to detrimental to the acquiring company.  Nor does the probability of success look any better when you deconstruct the two organizations.  Adobe is steeped in the culture of developers and designers.  Omniture talks the lingo of marketers and analysts.  Adobe is all about aesthetics and appeal, swagger and brand.  Omniture smacks of measurement, marketing, testing and optimization.  Omniture sells to enterprise organizations with a SAAS model; Adobe has a strong direct-to-consumer reach and pushes desktop software.  Can these two entities co-exist without mutual annihilation?  A year ago I’d never have guessed that Adobe would be the ultimate home to the technology I’ve been building for the last eleven years.  If you’d suggested it, my initial reaction would have been to dismiss it as fanciful.  But follow my lead; put aside the initial non sequiturs when you think about this opportunity and go a little deeper.  Give yourself a little more leash and ask, “what if?”  Though the risk here cannot be credibly minimized or ignored, neither can another fact:  That reward is the frequent companion of risk.

Will we do it?  Only time will tell… But I certainly wouldn’t bet against us.