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)