There are too many people who believe that the role of analytics is to analyse. After over twenty years spent doing analytics I still have to explain to many who I work with that the only real purpose of analytics is to help companies enhance their profitability. I like products that have that same basis behind their philosophy. WebTrends already enjoys a very strong position in the market analysing web traffic, and is now augmenting that base with the acquisition of ClickShift, enabling it to also be a leader in bid management. But underneath all of this what becomes ever clearer with WebTrends is that they are looking to build an integrated family of products that will enable companies to build profit in the digital world. Their tools and their philosophy is very clearly based on analysis for profit and not analysis for analyses sake.
Bid Management is an optimisation problem which hinges on being able to analyse a large number of dynamic variables and to produce answers which take into account that there are different ways to optimise. Is it based just on maximising profit, or should it be revenue, or what? One of the unfortunate outcomes of a very simplistic understanding of what 1 2 1 marketing means has resulted in our inundating the top 20% of our customer bases with offers because they are where we know the profit is. As a consequence we have all too often alienated the very people we need to keep as our loyal customers willing to share their wallets with us. Optimisation has to recognise that often we need to be able to walk away so, at its heart, an optimisation engine has to have very clever mathematics able to conduct multi-variant analysis at speed, but it also has to be configurable to allow us to adjust our targets to make the best compromise in the interests of our long-term relationship with our customers.
There are a lot of tools that promise to offer optimisation, but in reality there are very few who can really handle the complexity of meeting the business requirement. Further, of those that do make the grade many require skilled intervention to really get the most out of them. In buying ClickShift, WebTrends undoubtedly bought some very smart people, and they have produced some very smart software, but smartest of all is the fact that it is designed to not need lots of smart and expensive people to run it!
WebTrends are now able to offer a solution of how to analyse the complex interplay between keywords in the search engine, marketing creative, position on the search page, and the correct landing page. The tool allows users to analyse, optimise and control in real-time, and is designed to enable that control to be conducted effectively for each of the major networks, be that Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask or Google, with a full and automatic adjustment to their native idiosyncrasies. The optimisation can be adjusted for volume, for profit or for revenue.
Why I am very impressed by WebTrends is that they are quite clearly not a software vendor; they see themselves very much as a solutions vendor. In the new world of digital marketing, their on-demand capability, allied to their strong professional services capability and large partner network, means that they can combine strong business domain knowledge with a strong technical offering and ensure that their customers get a tailored solution to their needs.
In what is a very competitive market place I see WebTrends as a strong player for the long haul, offering the best long term balance of attributes. I believe they have integrity and technical quality and I think they will be around in ten years time when many of the other players in this youthful market have fallen by the wayside. I expect to see WebTrends make further acquisitions and product enhancements, which will see them consolidate their position as a market leader of note.