WebSideStory Gets Closer to Partners

Hosted Web analytics provider WebSideStory today unveiled a new partner platform and API suite that lets other developers of digital marketing tools, such as email service providers or content management companies, integrate more closely with WebSideStory’s HBX Web analytics.

“The dilemma arises from these disparate applications, like email service providers and ad-serving applications. These applications are islands that aren’t talking to each other,” said Jay McCarthy, WebSideStory’s VP business development. “By providing these APIs and creating this ecosystem, we’re giving value to our partners and bridging these digital marketing islands.”

The idea is to allow marketers that use both HBX and the partner applications to see analytics information in places that fit more easily into their workflow. Instead of having to switch back and forth between programs, users could, for example, see information on site traffic patterns within a content management system. It’s an idea that’s gaining currency among Web analytics players. Both Digital River subsidiary Fireclick and Coremetrics are working on similar integration projects with partners.

The HBX Stream platform is made up of partner support programs, including joint marketing and sales support; and APIs, which allow partners to incorporate HBX technology into their applications. In return for WebSideStory’s support and technology, partners agree to commit either $5,000 or $10,000 to joint marketing efforts of the combined solutions they create.

“We’re obviously not trying to make money off this program. We want to make it easy and appealing to partners,” McCarthy said.

The company is launching the platform at its user conference today in New York with six partners — five email service providers, including @Once, Responsys and Vertical Response, and one content management provider, Atomz. For the ESPs, the focus will be on using the site behavior data gathered by HBX to better target email messages. Content management providers might use the data to dynamically change content based on traffic patterns, McCarthy said.

The first three APIs in the program expose campaign creation, Web visitor profile, and Web analytics reporting data gathered by HBX. The campaign creation API will allow marketers to inject their campaign tracking information into HBX within the workflow of the email marketing application, instead of having to leave that program and enter the data into HBX directly.

The visitor profile API will allow enhanced deployment and analysis of campaigns when an email or ad serving vendor integrates their application with HBX through this API. Actions can be tied to site behavior like shopping cart abandonment, products or pages viewed, and frequency of visits.

McCarthy said partners will benefit by taking advantage of WebSideStory’s existing analytics technology within their own applications, so they don’t need to get distracted from their core competencies to add functionality. “They don’t want to build analytics and reporting tools. Their products are about managing and deploying campaigns, not reporting back to the end user,” he said.

The reporting API will allow partners to embed analytics into their applications. WebSideStory has long made this functionality available to its users in the form of a Report Builder application that lets users bring the data into Microsoft Excel. By offering the API to partners, they can do the same thing with their own applications. A content management application could use the data to dynamically replace content based on traffic patterns, for example.

While the initial focus is on ESPs and content management, other types of partner applications that could use the APIs include ad serving, content optimization, search engine marketing and CRM vendors.

“A Web analytics tool is the logical integration application for several marketing applications,” said WebSideStory’s CMO Rand Schulman. “It has the data that leads to a user taking action, including using a partner’s application.”

WebSideStory isn’t the only player trying to integrate more closely with partners. Rival Web analytics firm Coremetrics recently teamed with email service provider Responsys for a joint offering to trigger email messages based on site behavior.

Earlier this week, Digital River subsidiary Fireclick announced that its Web analytics product has been integrated with tools from email marketing vendors like Responsys and CheetahMail.

WebSideStory dismisses these competitor’s efforts. “Those are more of one-off projects, not thought out from a grander scale,” said Schulman. “We’ve addressed it in a more thought-out way.”

“We’re looking at it with a more holistic view,” added McCarthy. “We’re looking at all disciplines of direct marketing, not just one. We’re creating a program with broad depth to support partners with business relationships, not just putting the APIs out there.”

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