Monday, January 21, 2013

Adobe Omniture, Worth The Money?

On October 23, 2009, Adobe completed the acquisition of Omniture Inc. for a tidy sum of around 1.8 billion dollars.[1]  Chump change, right?  In the world of analytics there are two major players that dominate over 75% of the current market.  At the core of their businesses they have very similar offerings. However, Google Analytics is a free service while Omniture can cost tens of thousands of dollars.    So why are companies paying the money? Is it worth it?   Being a small business owner I know how tight money for websites, marketing, and analytics can be tight and where money is spent on these items it’s often at the sacrifice of other business needs so the money needs to count.


The company has been kicking around since Josh James founded it in 1996.  A drop out from Brigham Young University[2] he had worked on several tech startups before focusing on Omniture after seeing a need in the industry for a company that brought all the pertinent analytics data together in one easy to use interface.  Here’s what Omniture  SiteCatalyst (the site analytics arm of the software platform) does best:

  • Real time site metrics
  •  Optimized for big data solutions
  • Tracks all mobile data and content including: carrier, location, links, etc., Google analytics does not track all data but uses sampling.
  • Optimized for tracking all social media sites and traffic
  • In depth reporting including several mobile apps for monitoring traffic in real time while on the go.
  •  Reports for practically everything you could ever imagine, including on the fly funnel reports using historical data[3].  Google Analytics will not work with historical data, it starts tracking once reports are created.

Really, you could spend pages talking about the various features of this product, but the crazy thing is that for a lot less money, the free version of Google Analytics offers very similar functionality.  In fact, there are some things that Google does better than the paid version of SiteCatalyst.  To outline some of these things, I spoke with the Web Analytics Manager for 1800Contacts that has used both programs extensively, here’s what he had to say:

  •   Google Analytics has “intelligence events” which are like looking at anomalies based on based on statistical algorithms of all data breakdowns. SiteCatalyst is still in beta on this so it’s not currently offered.
  •   Google Analytics has had segmentation for longer that SiteCatalyst and has a more robust interface for creating segments.
  •  Google doesn’t export to excel very well, there is an API, but it is not very good.  SiteCatalyst works seamlessly with excel.
  • Google Analytics offers “benchmarking” from their real time data and SiteCatalyst does not.
 Obviously there are some differences.  I think whomever you speak with will have their own opinion about which program is better for the price based on experience and situation.    The way the market sits right now Google owns the small business space and SiteCatalyst owns the enterprise space.  Maybe there are too many analysts out there who are afraid of losing their jobs by using Google Analytics so they opt for the more expensive option (strictly opinion).  It’s the same reason IT managers buy Cisco switches, so that when it goes down, at least you bought the best “perceived” switch and you don’t have to answer questions about why you didn’t buy Cisco in the first place.


  1. Good post Mic. I have always wondered why small businesses will go directly with Omniture without even considering some of the other less expensive or free analytic options out there. After reading through your post I am even more convinced that businesses, especially small businesses, should strongly consider using something like google analytics over omniture until the pricing make sense for their needs.

  2. I would also say that small businesses also find it intimidating to start peeling back data inside of Google to figure out how to create reports that are helpful. A lot of people are much more comfortable crunching numbers in Excel and, let's face it, Google's report exports are absurdly limited. APIs are great if you have an IT or IS department to pull data for you but most small businesses don't have that luxury.

  3. It really comes down to the classic issue, of true cost, or more importantly, value. How much is to be gained by each technology, which suite fits your model best, and what other costs are actually involved with each. I.e. expertise to run the program, support, etc. It would be interesting to see what companies qualifies as a competetive target for each suite.

  4. I know there was a fear in our organization that Google is too big brotherish. They didnt want to have someone owning there data. Our organization went with web trends initially but ended up quickly moving to google analytics. Some of the features that we were sold on ended up being to difficult to implement (required unique code for certain links etc) and therefore were never utilized. Comparing features is always a bad way to choose a system but asking how do I perform a task in both systems ends up being the better way to compare. Thanks for your post. I think some groups also discount a system simply because its free and think the more money they pay the better that system is.