Following on from its $600 million purchase of marketing platform Neolane, which closed earlier this month, Adobe today made its fourth acquisition of 2013. To further strengthen its marketing and analytics business, Adobe has bought Satellite, a tag management technology that helps marketers with analytics and media tracking across web sites. Satellite had been part of a larger interactive marketing agency called Search Discovery.
Search Discovery Co-founder Evan LaPointe, confirmed the acquisition of the Satellite unit, but declined to disclose financial details. Several employees who worked on Satellite will join Adobe.
It looks like the main significance of this for Adobe is two-fold. First, it is bringing one more piece of functionality to its Marketing Cloud. That portfolio already offers services such as Analytics, Target, Social, Experience Manager, Media Optimizer, as well as the new services from Neolane.
The main idea of tag managing services is to consolidate code for different analytics, marketing and advertising services, implemented by websites to monitor how their content is used. Each piece of analytics/marketing/ad code means speaking with different third-party services, and that can slow a site down. Satellite claims to speed up loading times for sites by consolidating that code and taking it out of the markup language behind the site. It’s aimed at both small and large enterprises, who can use the platform to handle multiple sites. (That could mean that Adobe may use it itself as an SME-targeted, cloud based offering.)
Chris Gleason, performance strategist, 22squared, notes that Satellite will help fill out what Adobe already offers in analytics, which also includes assets from past acquisitions like Omniture. Adding new products by acquisition, as it does in so many cases, is about buying operations that are smaller and therefore more responsive to market demands. “It’s not easy always easy for big companies to move quickly,” he says. “Adobe is trying to create an end-to-end solution for marketers to manage, track, test and optimize their sites. Having a user-friendly and flexible tag management solution is another step in that direction for Adobe.”
And this also points to the other potential significance of this acquisition: it appears to put Adobe closer into the domain of marketing services where Google also is playing. Google in October 2012 launched its own tag management service, appropriately called Tag Manager.
Like Satellite, Tag Manager attempts to take some of the pain out of managing all of the different bits of analytics and tracking code that comes across a web site to make it more usable by marketers.
Satellite today notes that the Adobe acquisition doesn’t mean that Satellite will become an exclusively Marketing Cloud-shop: “Adobe will allow the use of Satellite for the deployment of services within and outside the Adobe Marketing Cloud,” it notes. But it also notes that while Adobe will continue to support existing integration between Satellite and Google Analytics, it will “no longer provide professional services to implement Google Analytics.”
Satellite notes that there is some overlap already between what it offers and what Adobe already does, which should help Adobe drive more business to its platform.
“Both Adobe and Satellite have robust partner networks that help facilitate the delivery of our market-leading technology and services to marketers worldwide,” it notes. “Due to our common focus on providing the best solutions available to marketers, we expectedly share some of the same partners. The addition of Satellite to the Adobe Marketing Cloud will enable the combined partner network to deliver the world’s leading set of marketing solutions to an even broader base of customers.”
Here is an email from Atlanta-based Satellite, which was sent out to customers and partners announcing Adobe’s latest acquisition:
How is Satellite Different?
Traditional tag management systems are there to help you manage the messy pile of tags from your various media efforts, but do little to help you on the analytics side, where sophisticated marketers are going to be spending the majority of their time. Many tag management systems will also only work when a page is loaded; Satellite can load any type of tag or analytics beacon on any user interaction within a page, and it can handle any number of tags you throw at it.
Satellite is designed by and for people who care how well their websites work, not just whether or not they work. Deep analysis and meaningful ROI shifts are only possible when you are able to understand your audience, see where they are struggling, and put changes or tests on your site to improve user experience and conversion propensity. You can’t get that information from a standard analytics tool implementation or from your media data: you have to get down to the nitty-gritty. Satellite makes it easy.
Clients include Ticketmaster, Toyota, JPMorgan, at&t, Lennar, Chick-fil-a and others.