Adobe, Omniture, and the End of the “Mad Men” Marketing Era
I’ve been predicting for a while that the marketing agencies and website developers that don’t have deep technical capabilities in search engine optimization will be left by the side of the road. Now we’re seeing it come to pass with Adobe’s $1.8 billion buyout of Omniture. [Adobe Systems announced the acquisition on Sept. 15, and U.S. antitrust regulators recently granted an early termination of their review.]
When Adobe’s chief marketing officer, Ann Lewnes, says marketing is the new finance, she’s not talking Orwellian double-speak. She means the digital age is driving the corporate marketing function to become accountable for spending in a far more rigorous and precise way than the “Mad Men” days of estimating “reach and frequency.” And that’s what Adobe’s Omniture acquisition is really all about.
This merger is intended to develop creative content in a holistic way and to measure the value of that content—whether it is video, web pages, mobile content, or social media content. This deal represents a way to “close the loop” in terms of creating digital content and measuring its impact.
Precisely measuring how people use a website is what we do at San Diego-based Covario. We view this deal as a brilliant strategic move for Adobe—one that could change the rules of the game for digital media, from creation to measurement to monetization. It represents changes in technology that will finally and irreversibly mark the end of an era.
This is what we see coming in the new Adobe media world:
—Video developers and agencies will build Adobe Flash creative content with Omniture tracking codes implanted from the beginning. This will enable them to track online views of that content across the web, and perhaps even begin to assess micro-payment charges for every view, partial view, or forward referral of that content. This creation and tagging could even provide the onset of a new type of digital watermarking and intellectual property management.
—Web design firms and companies with large or commerce-focused websites that use Adobe technologies to create dynamic landing pages and rich internet ads and apps will have tracking and multivariate testing code from Omniture Test & Target implanted from the beginning. They will be able to leverage this technology to create not just web pages, but entirely new forms of creative engagement that shape-shift to the user’s interests and demographics. To clinch an online sale, the content on a website essentially will be able to optimize itself to conform to the user’s established pattern of purchases—maximizing what we call the “conversion” from a mere page view to an online sale.
— As PDFs are built, the components of the PDF can be tracked, providing valuable “additional use” metrics for the creators of such content, again creating entirely new forms of measurement of written content.
—The need for expensive and difficult maintenance of tracking codes after the fact can be eliminated, providing a more accurate read on how successful each bit of creative content really is.
We also believe the Adobe-Omniture combination also will have the most potential traction in the mobile advertising and web development arena, where the tagging infrastructure is often far less mature than what’s available for web pages. Being able to eliminate the retagging of existing mobile pages by having creative content rendered with embedded tracking is of potentially huge value—particularly in the Asian and European markets where mobile is dominant.
Beyond the potential long-term product synergies, an Adobe-Omniture combination closes the loop between a company’s chief information officer, the CIO, and the chief marketing officer, the CMO, as well as their staff and agencies. Adobe has historically sold directly to marketers and agencies, while Omniture traditionally sold to CIOs. (Although Omniture has been aggressive more recently in selling to CMOs).
So this deal represents a combination with the potential to bridge the content-tracking gap with an end-to-end solution that will enable companies to precisely measure how successful their creative marketing content really is.