Google Analytics Launches

When HitBox and WebTrendsLive ceased offering their free web traffic measuring services several years ago, countless* individual and small business “webmasters” (now an obsolete term I think) had to switch over to Sitemeter to get nice charts of their web traffic. My site is an example.
These are hosted services so they incur expenses, but the prices these companies were charging to analyze server log files were well out of the range of all but corporate brochure-style sites. A site funded by advertising revenue just didn’t generate the hundreds or thousands of dollars of monthly fees to pay for analytics. Only site owners who had higher pageview to profit ratios could afford deluxe tracking software.
Urchin has been offering a great analytics product that I use on my server, but only because my hosting company negotiated a bulk license making it affordable. Google’s acquisition of Urchin meant they would soon be updating the software and lowering the price, as they tend to do. (Keyhole was a couple hundred dollars before it became Google Earth and available for free.)
It’s no surprise then that the former Urchin hosted service is now being offered by Google for free, but it is exciting. What’s most interesting is the integration of website analytics to the Adwords advertising program. Presumably, the increased advertising revenues will subsidize the hosting costs. The web has granted us an amazing amount of data, and we’re still taking baby steps towards making sense of it. It’s worth remembering that not everything can be measured in pageviews, unique visitors, purchases, and ROI. I will be checking my site stats at least daily though.
*I use “countless” in the expressive sense – meaning “many”. Surely a web analytics company has some method of counting their subscribers.