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Google to Buy Web Analytics Company

Google has inked a deal that will let it buy Urchin Software for an undisclosed sum, the company said Monday.

San Diego-based Urchin makes Web analytics software and provides on demand services that let customers track marketing performance. Urchin tools are available as a hosted service, a software product and through large Web hosting providers.

The acquisition would be Google's first since October 2004, when the search engine purchased digital mapping specialist Keyhole. Google relies heavily on linked advertising to search results and is in a constant battle for market share and mind share against Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo .

Ironically, it was Urchin that had the distinction of being used by companies to make sense of their Google ads. Search Engine pundit John Battelle noted in his blog that the deal could be worth $30 million.

"As part of a Google suite of tools, it will take on a decidedly different cast," Battelle said.

Google executives were not immediately available to comment. No matter the price, Google said it plans to make Urchin's tools available to Web site owners and marketers.

"We want to provide Web site owners and marketers with the information they need to optimize their users' experience and generate a higher return-on-investment from their advertising spending," said Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management, Google. "This technology will be a valuable addition to Google's suite of advertising and publishing products."

The company's two largest products are Urchin 6 On Demand and Urchin 5.7 analytics software. Urchin 6 reports give specific Web site visitors information, like how they navigate and what it will take to keep them coming back. The Urchin 6 On Demand service starts at $495 month. On Demand customers were recently automatically upgraded to Urchin version 6.2.

Urchin 5.7 software can be customized and run in-house. The basic modular product can track up to 100 sites today for $895.

Within Urchin's products, Google may see some additional analytics tools. Urchin's Map Overlay for GeoTracking lets Urchin customers see traffic patterns and conversion data by city and region, just by viewing a map. The map graphically indicates (using dots of varying sizes) the amount of traffic coming to the tracked site from each city, and also lets users view the number of visits, page views per visit, and conversion rates for that city, state or country.

The company also offers cross segment performance controls where users can separate data into different categories including keyword, content, country, region, city, network location, language, browser, platform, connection speed, screen resolution, colors, Java, JavaScript, Flash, visitor type, or come up with their own.

The latest Urchin platform also exports reports in several formats, including XML and Excel.

As a market player, Urchin boasts contracts with more than a million users including the U.S. House of Representatives, General Electric's NBC Television Division, Sun Microsystems, Sega, NASA, Qualcomm, SBC, National Hockey League, Montreal Exchange, British Telecom, Paramount, Symantec, and EarthLink.

Google did not say how many of Urchin's executive staff or employees would be staying on. The acquisition is expected to finalize in April after undergoing the usual round shareholder and government reviews.



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