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.