May 28, 2009

Omnipresent Omniture Makes Facebook Apps Omnipotent

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Facebook/FriendFeed)

The Facebook Platform just got a whole lot more interesting today as the all-powerful Analytics company, Omniture, Inc. released a new suite of analytics libraries for developers writing for the Facebook Platform. The analytics aim to improve, in heavy detail how Facebook developers' apps are being used on the Facebook Platform. What's interesting about the launch though is, in the rumored upcoming introduction of a Facebook Payments platform, the potential implications for e-commerce on Facebook that this brings.

Omniture, a company with probably most of the major online retailers on its client roster, provides Analytics tools for companies such as (my former employer) and others to be able to track users of their websites. Earlier this year they announced an iPhone Analytics suite, enabling iPhone app developers to track the use of their iPhone applications. E-Commerce and retailers can use the software to track conversions from click to actual purchase within links and ads. At their Omniture Summit conference earlier this year they even showed a demo of being able to track someone who visits an e-commerce site, and then ends up at a physical store location to actually purchase the item. The cross-pollenation of their various stats products to enable companies to know almost everything about their customers is quite honestly, a little scary. That's what makes Omniture so useful and powerful to their clients - it's the breadth of what they offer and the ability to see a customer across multiple products that makes them one-of-a-kind.

This Facebook announcement just made the customers that they track all the more real. With this tracking, Omniture is now able to identify purchasers on the websites they frequent by age, sex, location, network, interests, the demographics of their friends, the number of their friends, and much, much more. It's this user segmentation that will make companies like Amazon and Apple and Wal-Mart want to create Facebook applications to drive users to buy things on Facebook. All of the sudden, Facebook Apps just became very interactive advertisements.

One strategy many Facebook app developers employ is the creation of multiple niche communities under the umbrella of a much larger app company. Such a strategy encourages more wall posts by users from the app and a much more targeted experience within each application the developer launches. In addition to driving and tracking conversion, Omniture has made it very easy, using their SiteCatalyst product, to track and manage multiple Facebook applications at one time. For instance, an example they used was 3 TV Show apps, and the ability to track the number of times images were viewed within the apps vs. times videos were played or stories read. Such a strategy could enable a similar media company to compare various campaigns and determine what was most successful.

The Facebook App Analytics market is ripe with competition right now. With analytics companies such as Sometrics and Kontagent which both have free products at the moment, Omniture may not hit the smaller, core app developers which make up some of the top applications on Facebook. However, with the breadth of information Omniture provides and ability to truly track user engagement and conversion across multiple products, those developers could now seriously have some competition on their hands by much bigger players in the industry that can afford to pay for it. I am told that already at least one major media company has begun to use the product. At the same time, Omniture also provides smaller packages more affordable to the small and medium-sized business, so the smaller developers are not out of luck entirely.

This is a big move for both Omniture and Facebook, and will hopefully bring out some interesting new applications from many of the online retailers which are already using their software to track performance and conversion in their increasingly offsite online presence. In the wake of a coming payments platform for Facebook, Omniture could bring some interesting things to the network. It will be very interesting to watch and see how companies begin to use this and what information comes from the wealth of information Omniture provides.

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.