Google Analytics Builds Out Its Free Offerings

Google plans to roll out seven enhancements and new features to its free analytics product over the coming weeks, including integration with AdSense.

The Google Analytics upgrade comes two weeks after Yahoo launched its analytics product. Plus, Google’s offering appears to encroach on more sophisticated tools offered by Omniture, WebTrends, and Coremetrics.

“All of these are things our more advanced customers have been asking for, and our enterprise-class customers want and need,” said Brett Crosby, group manager of Google Analytics.

Google is adding a custom-reporting feature. Previously users only had the ability to run pre-determined reports. Now users can drill down into geographies, the referring source, or other queries. Google Analytics users can create custom reports and save them to run regular queries.

Another feature is advanced segmentation. The feature gives users the ability to create custom segments of site traffic such as from a particular country. Users can limit data to see just AdWords customers, or switch between segments by checking and unchecking boxes.

Google’s Trendalyzer, renamed Motion Chart, visually depicts user behavior on a site. Someone using this tool can search on five dimensions of data to see how site visitors behave over time, and how the quality of their visits rates through an animated graph with colored bubbles. “Now you can see your Google Analytics data and discover things that would have taken a lot longer to come up with the same conclusions before,” Crosby said.

While AdWords integration was available at the launch of Google Analytics, users of AdSense text ads wanted in. And Google will accommodate in coming weeks.

Google Analytics users will be able to obtain data on AdSense performance by both page and referring site. With this data, Google believes advertisers will be able to improve ad units and advertisers and publishers will be able to improve the user experience with the informed data, hence increasing revenue potential.

Google also has plans to release an API (define) in beta, so that software developers can build their own tools for Google Analytics. “Even before we had an API, we’ve had a lot of developers create grease monkey scripts, iPhone apps, and data scripts,” said Crosby. Google wants to “Create a vibrant developer community around analytics to push applications we haven’t even dreamed of.”

Many see Google Analytics as an entry platform to analytics, and after time sites graduate to paid products such as Omniture, WebTrends, or Coremetrics. In a recent interview Google’s analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik outlined the levels for Google Analytics and where other products begin. With these seven enhancements the bar may be raised.

“Now, today’s launch, it’s not about the breadth. This launch is about the depth of usability, to be able to the deep dives in the data. We’ve taken what was traditionally the extensive data, and made them easy to use,” Crosby said.

Tags and coding are not required. There is a “drag and drop functionality, you can type in what you’re looking for, and it will auto-suggest it for you,” he added explained.

Google presented these changes Wednesday at the eMetrics Summit Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, rival analytics providers continue to differentiating their offerings. WebTrends, for instance, focuses its data on the site visitor, where Omniture classifies itself as a Web optimization company rather than a Web analytics firm.

“Their [Google] solution will continue to be more of an individual application or small market application,” Alex Yoder, CEO of WebTrends told ClickZ News. “By individual application, when a [large enterprise] needs something quickly and quietly they may use Google Analytics. The way I look at it in the bit picture, Google is a mass-market solution.”

While Yoder doesn’t see Google as direct competition, he believes WebTrends has lost some of its smaller customers to Google over the past three years since Google Analytics was introduced. “We do continue to innovate and our revenue continues to climb. The market continues to evolve,” Yoder said. “Each vendor is stepping forward with differentiated offerings.”

Also on Wednesday,m Omniture reported healthy revenue growth. Its Q3 revenue reached $77.8 million, an increase of 108 percent compared to the same period in 2007. As it moved to build its business, Omniture reported a net loss of $17.3 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $1.1 million for Q3 in 2007.

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