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Omniture Gets Visual
The Web-analytics vendor introduces a new video-measurement function and a renewed focus on user-friendliness.
Posted Mar 11, 2008
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As part of its annual Summit conference last week, Omniture unveiled SiteCatalyst 14, the latest version of its flagship Web-analytics solution. The launch focuses on improving ease-of-use and also introduces a video measurement feature that enables companies to perform analytics on online video content. Other key features include: a redesigned user interface, the ability to publish and distribute high-quality visual reports, and enhanced search functionality. Because its users are constantly pushing for innovation to better service their customers, Omniture tries "to stay on the leading edge," says Chris Parkin, the company's senior director of product and solutions. The feature that's making the biggest splash, he adds, is the measurement of enhanced video and of rich and streaming media. Traditionally, video analytics has been focused on measuring key milestones in video content -- the use of certain buttons (such as "play" or "rewind"), or the strength and reliability of a server signal, Parkin explains. With Omniture, Parkin says, video measurement is "bundled into one seamless server call...measur[ing] everything within one roundtrip." With this technology, Omniture promises that video analytics will be much more efficient and significantly more cost-effective. Omniture's acquisition of Visual Sciences HBX, now SiteCatalyst HBX, included a video measurement tool but the company has now enhanced the application to encompass all interactive technology, including radio and mobile. "[It's] a very interesting feature," says Bill Gassman, research director at Gartner. "It's an important thing for people doing videos." Companies can measure where customers are focusing their attention, where they're fast-forwarding to, where they're dropping off, and where they're interacting with the video. Armed with this knowledge, marketers can better decide where to strategically place ads. For a video that's eight minutes long, for example, you can see that 30 percent of viewers have stopped watching after two minutes and 50 percent after five minutes. "It's looking at the bell-shaped curve of where people are dropping off," Gassman says, which in turn helps content developers understand the best way to present a compelling video.
Aside from the video measurement tool, Parkin says that version 14 "was really about a major usability overhaul." Omniture claims to have channeled years of usability research, customer feedback, and testing to completely revamp its software -- and there's some evidence that customers and experts are taking notice. The customer-centric focus was apparent during the Summit's closing address, when Omniture's chief technology officer, Brett Error, held an open mic for customers to share what they wanted to see in the company's next release. Whether it's allowing customers to sort by date or the ability to compress the large Other section of a pie chart, Gassman says it's the "little quirks...[and] obscure things" that people are asking for -- and Omniture seems to be listening. Gassman notes that, with this year's Summit, there was a "change from last year -- a good change," one that reflected the growing maturity not just of Omniture but of the industry as a whole. Analytics has been around for a while, but Gassman believes a long-standing problem is that users have not yet made the most of what the techniques have to offer. At the Summit, however, there was an air of hope. "When you talked to people at lunch or in the hallway, they were talking about what they're doing about the product, not the product itself," he says. While the user conference may have focused on the power of analytics, the reality is that corporate decision-makers continue to rely on gut instinct. "The people using these tools understand that you can get a better return on whatever you do if you test and measure," Gassman says. Unfortunately, he adds, it's often the "creative people" who are calling the shots. Anyone devoted to Web analytics must deal with this frustration, Gassman asserts; the burden, though, is on vendors, including Omniture, to promote education and awareness. Otherwise, their reach will remain very limited. As Omniture continues to improve its software, the company is relying on its customers for feedback and guidance on future innovation. "Wherever our customers are putting money...we'll have a hand in that [to] help them with that overarching spend," Parkin says. "We're using their intelligence to make their ecosystem better, faster, stronger."

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