Google Gives Away Analytics, Mines Data

Google today announced that its hosted Web analytics service, Google Analytics, is now free.

Formerly known as Urchin from Google, Google Analytics is designed to help businesses use performance data to improve their online marketing campaigns and Web sites.

Google Analytics is already used by many of the top properties on the Web, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies. Businesses such as The Financial Times, National Semiconductor, Ritz Interactive, and Deckers Outdoor Corporation use Google Analytics.

“We want to give all online marketers and publishers access to powerful Web analytics to help them better understand what their customers want. With this knowledge, businesses can create more accurate advertising and build better Web sites,” said Paul Muret, Google engineering director, and one of the founders of Urchin.

Analytics for All Levels

Muret said by making the service free, Google aims to give all Web sites — large and small — the tools they need to better serve their customers, make more money, and improve the Web experience for everyone.

According to the search titan, Google Analytics can enhance every aspect of online marketing — from selecting and bidding on effective keywords, to determining the most relevant offers in e-mail campaigns, to optimizing Web site design.

By acting on this information, Google said businesses of all sizes can attract more visitors, convert more prospects to customers, and improve the overall return on their marketing investment.

Google said Google Analytics is simple enough for businesses new to Web analytics to get started quickly, and sophisticated enough for the most advanced online marketers.

Form and Function

Google Analytics includes integration with Google AdWords, and works with any online ad network. Users of Google AdWords can access Web analytics from a new interface within their AdWords account.

Google Analytics automatically tags keyword destination URLs, and imports cost data for ROI reports. The software is also able to track the results of any online marketing campaign, including banner ads, referral links, e-mail newsletters, and organic and paid search.

Because Google Analytics runs on the same computing infrastructure that powers, the company said it can support the traffic demands of any site, from those with a few visitors a week to hundreds of millions.

Competitive Intelligence

Jason Dowdell, founder of MarketingShift, the blog focused on media research and technology, told TechNewsWorld that this move allows Google to increase its presence in the data holding market.

“By making their analytics tool free it becomes the best solution in the market for the small- to medium-sized businesses who don’t have large advertising and development budgets,” Dowdell said. “Not only will Google have detailed stats on how well natural search and paid search perform from their own engine, but now they’ll have the same data on their competitors.”

Dowdell said Google will wind up with “scores and scores of data” on how users behave after the search, which will allow the company to improve its algorithm and gather a tremendous wealth of data — all for the cost of servers and bandwidth.

“This is bootstrapping at it’s best,” Dowdell said. “When a publicly traded company leverages it’s assets in this way it makes investors and users extremely happy.”

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