Urchin Goes Free, Becomes Google Analytics

    November 14, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Google has removed the fees from its web analytics package, which should be a welcome bonus to AdWords users who may have shied away from it previously.

After Google picked up San Diego-based Urchin in March, it kept the name and fees in place. Now the company has dropped both, renaming the service Google Analytics and making it free.

“Google Analytics gives us an opportunity to invest in our advertisers and everyone else who wants to create quality content on the web,” Google wrote of its change. One benefit of using it over third-party products is that it automatically provides AdWords ROI metrics.

The service can track non-AdWords marketing initiatives, too. For users who cannot use Google Analytics, such as on private intranets protected from outside access, Google still sells the Urchin software as a standalone product.

Search Engine Watch discussed the move, particularly the privacy aspect, in a recent post:

The On Demand product is free for anyone. If you don’t have an AdWords account, you’re limited to five million page views per month (which is a lot). Need more? Make a $5 one time deposit, open an AdWords account, and you’re set with unlimited page views….

Worried Google will use your data or the data overall to better understand how much you are willing to pay for ads, based on conversions. Google said that’s definitely not done, nor are there any plans to do that. Nor are there any plans to tap into the data as a means of improving regular search results or to identify “bad” sites, Google said.

A site publisher doesn’t have to be an AdWords user, or even have advertising, to use Google Analytics. The real benefit does come to advertisers, though.

Web analytics has been a very profitable field for third-party companies, particularly WebTrends and DoubleClick. Google’s model of making free services available has primarily been one to vex the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo.

Now, firms like eBay, and now the analytics market, find Google cheerfully wooing their customers on price. One can only imagine the chaos Google could cause for the likes of McAfee and Symantec if it were to buy up antivirus and antispyware software firms and make those a freely available package.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.