You might remember that Google acquired Urchin, a web analytics firm, back in March. Two months after the purchase, Google reduced prices for Urchin’s analytics tool. Now they have taken the radical step of renaming the product to “Google Analytics” and offering it for free.
This move is aimed firstly at AdWords customers, but the “Google Analytics On Demand” product is available for free to anyone, with the limitation of five million page views per month (which most sites would not reach anyway). If you have an AdWords account, you have access to Google Analytics with unlimited page views. Google is also introducing a number of new dashboards that let different types of users focus on the metrics that are most important to them.
You will still have to pay for the software based version of Google Analytics. This may (or may not) change in the future.
How has the news been received? Forums have been buzzing since the news has been released. Some regard Google Analytics as a “category killer” for the web analytics industry, and the share price of web analytics firm WebSideStory dropped 9% after the news broke.
Google sees Google Analytics as a way to help website owners improve their online marketing campaigns. Naturally, Google would be hoping that advertisers use Google Analytics and end up spending more money on Google’s AdWords pay-per-click advertising program. So Google is expecting to generate a handsome return by giving Google Analytics away for free.
While everyone loves free stuff, it remains to be seen how Google Analytics is perceived. Some advertisers might continue to prefer an independent web statistics program to monitor their online advertising – Google Analytics could provide Google with valuable information about effectiveness and ROI on advertising campaigns which could influence pricing decisions for AdWords or help Google make better informed business decisions in other areas. Also, with click fraud being a constant concern, advertisers might not want to leave it up to Google to provide the web statistics. I guess your take on this question depends on how you view Google and the company’s sphere of influence. The lure of free web analytics will probably prove pretty hard to resist!