Posted by: Marshall Sponder | April 9, 2008

Yahoo! buys IndexTools!

Wow! Dennis Mortensen is a lucky guy and I’m glad I know him (hope he’s bringing a bunch of cigars to Emetrics SF next month and will finally show me Rubix – before it gets changed all over to Yahoo Analytics! – or whatever Yahoo! ends up calling it).  I first read about the news today in a post by Lars at his blog, Web Analysts Info – Yahoo! to Acquire IndexTools and a more through analysis by Eric Peterson in on  How Yahoo! buying IndexTools changes Web Analytics.

Dennis Mortensen is also on the Social Media Committee at the Web Analytics Association that I direct, and I have  spent some time with him over the last year at the conferences I’ve attended (Emetrics, SES NY and Ad-Tech, where IndexTools has had a booth – and IndexTools has a small office in NYC which I admit, I’ve never been to … I guess it will end up moving into Yahoo’s offices in midtown once the aquisition finalizes.

Eric Peterson is of the opinion that Yahoo Analytics! will change a lot of things, especially with the capabilities that Rubix brings, along with everything else that IndexTools does:

“…Prior to the acquisition, IndexTools was poised to release their own ad hoc segmentation and analysis engine, dubbed Rubix, that directly competes with the likes of Omniture Discover and similar high-end offerings. I have seen Rubix and my first reaction was “Oh man am I glad I left Visual Sciences when I did.” Dennis and his team have taken advantage of the work that Visual, Omniture, and others have done and essentially packaged it up in a much more user friendly and approachable way. The result is something that I believe a far greater number of analysts will be able to take advantage of, regardless of the price point, and something that other free and low-cost vendors simply have no response to today. Lars Johanssen of SATAMA and my very good friends Rene and Aurelie from LBi/OX2 have similar summaries of Rubix worth reading.”

I like that Eric thinks Rubix, or whatever it gets dubbed once Yahoo Analytics! is unleashed on us all – will be a tool much easier and more intuitive than Visual Sciences – I’m finding it hard to get started with VS, given the setup and the interface, while powerful, isn’t particularly user friendly or intuitive – at least, that’s what I found.   Omniture Site Catalyst, I could say much the same for, as these tools were never meant to be used by more than a small number of analysts  who were often specially trained on the platform.

But clearly, that’s changing as the role of Web Analyst gets “absorbed” and “redefined” into other roles within an organization much as Social Media and SEO/SEM are slowly moving away from being specialties and becoming merged and absorbed into other marketing roles within organizations.     As we move in that direction, interfaces and the information driving them what were once adequate enough to answer the questions of a prividledged few, now need to become more user friendly and flexiable to accomodate the varied roles and uses the Web Analytics Platform is being asked to perform.

On another side of it, Yahoo! certainly wants to stick a needle in Microsoft’s side and frustrate if not thawt the MicroHoo aquisiton – and if you noticed lately, Yahoo! has been on a buying spree, which will force Microsoft, if it succeeds in absorbing Yahoo! to absorb all it bought, including IndexTools – which competes with it’s own Microsoft Analytics tool it just formally launched last month (renamed an all).  Again, Peterson speaks out:

“…One of the things that people really like about Microsoft Gatineau is the inclusion of a small amount of demographic data available for segmentation. I like what Ian and his team have been doing, but I suspect that A) Yahoo! has access to very much the same data (only a whole lot more of it) and B) the existing segmentation capabilities in IndexTools, not to mention Rubix, will make that data a whole lot more useful to marketers. Imagine if you deployed IndexTools having real-time access to age, gender, income, and behavioral demographic data to apply to all the reports in your system, collected via Yahoo’s huge network, obfuscated, and presented properly showing sample sizes and statistical correlations. That would be cool, huh?”

I bet Microsoft is somewhat cool to the idea of yet another analytics tool to integrate into what they already have.  And then, what if Yahoo! makes IndexTool and all it’s super segmentation tools free to anyone?

“..f Yahoo! provides a low/no cost option for IndexTools, suddenly companies wanting to invest in web analytics will be far more likely to take advantage of the 10/20/70 rule for web analytics success I described over a year ago, focusing their efforts on people and process and worrying less about the technology used. Companies will be able to get their feet wet with Google Analytics and then, as the need arises, upgrade to IndexTools when they’ve mastered the basic processes and have hired the right people to move beyond basic reports and start to generate more complex analysis.

Obviously this acquisition is not without risks — Yahoo! could take too long to integrate IndexTools into their arsenal, the Microsoft/Yahoo! drama could play out in an unexpected way, and Google could respond by bringing Google Analytics dramatically up-market to be more competitive with Yahoo’s new position. Mitigating these risks are the fact that the team at Yahoo! is exceptionally bright (Bob Page, Michael Wexler, many others), any MSFT/YHOO drama will inevitably take years to play out, and if Google Analytics comes up market, well, then we have two truly great free or low-cost tools to choose from!”

Suppose the above happens?  Where does that leave Omniture (and Visual Sciences), WebTrends and Coremetrics?    Perhaps, in five years, neither company will exist in it’s present form and the platforms will be “absorbed” and all the customers will have migrated to other, more integrated platforms that incorporate the same data, but in a more useful way.

At least, that’s one possibility.  Congrats Dennis, and I look forward to hearing more about this acquisition from both Dennis and Yahoo! next month at Emetrics – which I will definitely  write about.



  1. […] Marshall Sponder […]

  2. […] learning curve I just call a difficult UI experience. My only wish now is that we don’t find Yahoo turning Indextools to […]

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