For Sean Power’s predictions on the Omniture – Adobe acquisition, click here.
Adobe has a problem. They make great client software — Flash, Flex, Acrobat — that works with the vast majority of browsers. In fact, it ships with most of them. Despite attempts by Scribd, Silverlight, and others, Adobe’s technology makes the Web a more exciting place.
But Adobe only makes money when they sell the server side of all those tools. And they don’t have a monopoly on those sales. Plenty of software can save Flash or PDF formats.
With the acquisition of Omniture, Adobe may actually have found a way to make money from all those installed clients. It’s relatively easy to instrument HTML: just put in a snippet of code. But doing it in Flash or Acrobat is a lot harder, requiring some coding and instrumentation.
If Adobe makes it easy to track client behaviors in Acrobat and Flash, it can make itself the Google Analytics of the Rich Internet Application world. Done right, there’ll be widgets in the Eclipse-based Flash and Flex developer environments, and in Acrobat authoring tools like Illustrator. Imagine dragging a “Goal” object to a Flex view, or marking a text field as the “transaction value” for a session, or tracking how far down a document a particular reader has scrolled.
Then Adobe can offer tracking and analytics for video and RIAs to those who want it. If they’re smart, they’ll do it for free for clients that don’t have a lot of traffic, but charge for more volume. It’s a great Trojan Horse strategy, and it’ll work if they open up Omniture’s entire suite.
This goes beyond simple analytics, of course. Adobe is uniquely positioned to track the sharing of viral videos, Flash-based games, and forwarded documents, then to tie those back to conversions on the website. It’s the holy grail of Internet marketing, and it requires that a client be deployed across all browsers and embedded in the applications themselves.
There are some important security and privacy issues here, of course. If you thought tracking cookies were bad, imagine what they’re like when they’re inseparable from the document, video, or application itself.
Nevertheless, everyone making money tracking things — from bit.ly, to Doubleclick, to other analytics firms — is going to be watching this really closely. If you wondered how we were going to pay for online media and digital TV, well, now you know.