It's a busy time in the world of Web analytics. On Wednesday at the ad:tech conference in San Francisco, Google announced its free Website Optimizer is available to anyone. This comes on the heels of last week's announcement of Yahoo's acquisition of IndexTools, a major provider of Web analytics software for online marketing.
Website Optimizer is a tool for testing designs, headlines and graphics for the highest results. As a beta, it was part of Google AdWords, but now it has its own Web site and an official blog. Google said the standalone Optimizer is virtually the same as the one that accompanied AdWords, and that it can be accessed by any Google account.
Google also announced that its Urchin software, also formerly in beta, is now available in a release version. Urchin, which runs on a customer's servers, is the basis of the Google Analytics hosted service.
Urchin can be used to analyze firewall-protected content, such as an intranet, or to sift through several years of old server log data. It can also be used if a company needs to have its traffic audited by a third party, if custom reports need to be generated, or if a site owner wants to see if visitors are getting "Page Not Found" errors.
Urchin is only available through Google's professional services network, which consists of partner companies that offer support and consulting services. A free 30-day trial version is available, and an Urchin license is about $3,000.
Yahoo said its new IndexTools technology will boost its analytics services by adding the ability to deliver "relevant insights and metrics for online campaigns that run across the entire Yahoo network."
'Permanent Game Changer'
IndexTools COO Dennis R. Mortensen wrote last week in his blog that IndexTools will be offered free to Yahoo's current partners and clients who accept its standard Yahoo agreement. At the moment, new clients or partnerships are not being added, but Mortensen indicated that could change during "the next rollout."
"Those of you who know me or heard me evangelize IndexTools as essentially 80 percent of the functionality of Omniture for a fraction of the cost," Mortensen wrote, will now have to get used to getting that 80 percent of Omniture for free.
Others in the Web analytics community also applauded Yahoo's move. For instance, analytics professional Eric T. Peterson wrote in his blog shortly after the announcement that the IndexTools acquisition was potentially "the permanent game changer" because many people consider it as good as expensive solutions. He also said he expects Yahoo to take advantage of the Google Analytics Authorized Consultant network as it rolls out IndexTools.