You’ve prob­a­bly already heard the news about Yahoo acquir­ing Index­Tools, a small Euro­pean web ana­lyt­ics com­pany.  We think it’s great and wel­come back Yahoo, an impor­tant part­ner of ours, to the world of web ana­lyt­ics again. There has been some recent debate about how easy or hard Web ana­lyt­ics is to do well, and to me, the answer is that it’s easy for many, and hard for many, depend­ing on your expe­ri­ence, your objec­tives, your tech­nol­ogy, your net­work of folks to lean on, and other fac­tors.  But what we should all be excited about is that this acqui­si­tion is fur­ther evi­dence and a timely reminder, that web ana­lyt­ics is indeed, manda­tory for all.Between 2000 and 2004, back when this was a fledg­ling lit­tle indus­try, I was out on the road hit­ting every major city, and a few minor ones, deliv­er­ing 3 hour sem­i­nars on the busi­ness and mar­ket­ing value of web ana­lyt­ics. The room was usu­ally packed with IT types, and sparsely pop­u­lated with mar­keters.  My fel­low mar­keters just didn’t get it yet, and the IT Types just wanted it to be less of a has­sle for them.  On one tour, I started brashly stat­ing that every­one doing busi­ness on the Web will be using web ana­lyt­ics within 5 years. I was hop­ing to instill a bit more urgency within their orga­ni­za­tions to start some conversations.

Well, it’s been less than 5 years, and It’s sat­is­fy­ing to see that this pre­dic­tion has come true.  No one doing dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing or any form of dig­i­tal busi­ness can sur­vive with­out it. A web site with­out ana­lyt­ics is sim­ply a hobby.  So does this acqui­si­tion turn the world of ana­lyt­ics upside down? Hardly.   Is it a good move for the indus­try?  Sure it is. Yahoo is a great media com­pany, and as such, they want to sell more adver­tis­ing.  They are fever­ishly devel­op­ing their new behav­ioral tar­get­ing net­work to sell more adver­tis­ing. This move will help them sell more adver­tis­ing, and so it’s a smart move.

Not widely known is the fact that a few years ago, Omni­ture actu­ally acquired Yahoo’s enter­prise ana­lyt­ics cus­tomers that it had inher­ited from its pur­chase of Over­ture, who had ear­lier acquired Keylime, another early provider in this space.  Yahoo’s motive with this acqui­si­tion is clearly to pro­vide a ser­vice to their thou­sands of small busi­ness cus­tomers.  These cus­tomers would have oth­er­wise migrated to Google for their ‘free’ ana­lyt­ics solu­tion.  Mid-sized and enter­prise cus­tomers, on the other hand, demand advanced prod­ucts, spe­cial­ized busi­ness ser­vices and deep domain exper­tise to help them opti­mize their online busi­ness.  Yahoo wants to be the best adver­tis­ing plat­form it can be, and with that, we know our cus­tomers will want to do busi­ness with both of us.

Our joint cus­tomers will buy adver­tis­ing with Yahoo, among oth­ers, and opti­mize that spend as well as all other aspects of their dig­i­tal efforts with Omni­ture.  What this will do for Yahoo is to give more small busi­nesses access to web ana­lyt­ics, so they can see how well their online ad spend­ing is work­ing and buy even more.  All of this is good for the gen­eral matu­rity of the Web as a seri­ous chan­nel for busi­ness, and the most account­able medium for marketing.Web ana­lyt­ics is cer­tainly foun­da­tional, but where it gets really excit­ing is when the ana­lyt­ics become the fuel for a much broader plat­form that not only mea­sures, but also opti­mizes and auto­mates decision-making across all online mar­ket­ing channels.

The news deliv­ered by ana­lyt­ics may be good or bad depend­ing on the mar­ket­ing chan­nel, depend­ing on the offer, depend­ing on the time of day, depend­ing on the audi­ence, you get the idea.  Yes, any form of mea­sure­ment is bet­ter than none and for that we applaud this move and wel­come Yahoo! back to the world of web ana­lyt­ics.  And, for the data dri­ven orga­ni­za­tions that need inde­pen­dent report­ing and ana­lyt­ics, opti­miza­tion and automa­tion, we wel­come you to the plat­form where this will lead you.

4 comments
william porter
william porter

Really loved what you had to say. Im really looking forward to building a internet business.

Suhel
Suhel

Great post dear

Anil
Anil

Hey Brent! It's insane how people have written off about WA being difficult, easy blah blah! but hey if your dead right here! "the answer is that it’s easy for many, and hard for many, depending on your experience, your objectives, your technology, your network of folks to lean on, and other factors" it makes more sense as jason burby says, what you learn and how you implement the insights to the best. Cheers Anil

Jason Burby
Jason Burby

Great post Brent. You hit it on the head, when web analytics gets exciting is when you move to optimization. Any kind of optimization really - changing your business (online and offline) based on what you are learning through your customers behaviors (and of course attitudes). I would argue there really isn’t any reason to get excited about web analytics until you act on the insight and find a way to improve site performance. The ROI of a web analytics investment (internal and external costs) is ZERO until action is taken from the insight and the site is improved that drives the overall business. Jason Burby (ZAAZ)