adobe-2This feels like the good old dotcom days: Adobe is buying a web analytics firm for $1.8 billion.

Adobe said today it will acquire web analytics firm Ominture for $21.50 a share. That’s a 45 percent premium over Omniture’s average closing price in the last month. Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen said in a statement that the deal is a “game changer” for Adobe.

I certainly hope so, since the purchase price works out to about $150,000 per Omniture employee. Omniture, foundedin 1996, has 1,200 employees. In 2008, it had revenue of $300 million. As you can see from the illustration above, Omniture fills a key piece of the puzzle for Adobe. And that explains the purchase price.

Narayen said that Adobe’s customers want to be able to monetize their content and applications online. In this respect, Adobe can be a one-stop shop. You can use Adobe software to create your content and then, once you post it online, you can figure out how much it’s being used and how much money it is generating for you.

Meanwhile, Adobe reported that third-quarter earnings, excluding items, fell to 35 cents per share from 50 cents per share a year ago. That topped Wall Street estimates by a cent a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Adobe shares fell 3.6 percent in after-hours trading to $34.34. Trading in Omniture shares were halted after the close, as is standard in this kind of transaction. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and is subject to government approval. Omniture will become a division headed by Josh James, Omniture CEO.

Suresh Vittal, an analyst at Forrester, said, “This deal has the potential to embed measurement into the exponentially increasing landscape of interactive media.”

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