This week, one of the leaders of enterprise marketing management solutions, Unica Corporation, acquired Sane Solutions, the maker of NetTracker web analytics software, for $26M – $28M. As quoted in TechTarget, Elana Anderson, VP and research director at Forrester Research, stated “For the online, interactive buying sector, Web analytics is the fundamental repository. If I’m Omniture, Coremetrics or Web Side Story, I’m thinking, ‘now Unica has moved into my turf.'”

This happens only weeks after WebSiteStory announced its purchase of Visual Sciences, bringing two of the leadings players in the web analytics market place together, while Google acquired the blog analytics solution MeasureMap,following its purchase of Urchin Software (now offered for free as Google Analytics).

This flurry of merger & acquisition activities in the web analytics market space, no doubt, confirms the growing need to maximize the ROI of web marketing and the role web analytics providers should play in solving this problem, but the approaches of certain vendors require some analysis:

Some of these acquisitions are pretty obvious in their business sense — Google’s purchase of Urchin is targeting the AdSense subscribers and MeasureMap will most likely empower users of Blogger, while the merger of WebSideStory with Visual Sciences aims to create a power player covering a wide range of businesses, from WebSideStory’s stronghold in medium-sized e-commerce sites to Visual Sciences’ footprint in the intelligence community and larger corporations.

The fate of NetTracker within Unica is less predictable, though. It almost begs comparison with another acquisition of a web analytics maker – the venerable NetGenesis which was among the traffic analysis pioneers in the early days of the web, by a data mining vendor, SPSS. As a January 2006 report by Forrester Research reasoned, “Today, the dilutive effect of the SPSS acquisition is fully evident: NetGenesis has positioned itself as the firm to turn to for “predictive Web analytics.” Having abandoned the more mundane aspects of Web analytics to the likes of Omniture, WebSideStory, and WebTrends, the vendor is hanging its future on this esoteric niche that few customers are ready for.”

Surely, as businesses learn to gain insight from web traffic and improve on their business intelligence capabilities, the trend will be towards vendors offering bundled solutions, but there is so often a gap between wishful marketing strategy and the ability of clients to absorb too much information at a time, that I wonder whether NetTracker will be sidetracked by the other Unica offerings, not unlike the way NetGenesis faded away within data miner SPSS.

One thought on “Web analytics consolidation – would NetTracker stay on track?

  1. Mitko,

    I can certainly understand your concerns. Sometimes acquisitions don’t work out and acquired companies fade away. But it depends on the acquired company, the acquiring company, and the markets. Our company, Unica, has a very strong track record of executing against our plans. And the synergy between the web and other marketing channels is increasingly clear.

    Customers use multiple channels to identify, evaluate, trial and buy products and services. Marketers need to bring together the information from these channels and improve their ability to act on it across all of the various touchpoints they have with customers — based on how consumers like to learn about and buy products. Increasingly, we are talking with marketers who want to use web analytics to help make better decisions about their marketing programs. They want insights from web analytics to drive action, not just for website redesign or paid search but to inform communications across a number of channels. Unica hopes to make all of this easier. Our customers have responded very favorably.

    Unica already has customers using our real-time recommendation capabilities on the website, in the call center and on hand-held GPS devices. Our solutions are used today to deliver highly personalized email campaigns. Integrated insights about customer behavior on websites and the effectiveness of on-line ads and search are a natural addition to this.

    We are confident this will be a successful acquisition — not just for Unica — but mostly for our customers. Only time will tell and I hope you will give it a chance.
    Carol Meyers
    SVP and Chief Marketing Officer
    Unica Corporation

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