Google announced plans this week to purchase San Diego, California based Urchin, a popular web analytics software program, for an undisclosed sum of money. The purchase is Google's first since last fall's buyout of satellite map specialist Keyhole. The move marks a different direction for Google's purchases, which have traditionally involved companies and technologies that would either provide additional ad inventory or new searchable content for the Google site.

Urchin is used by web site owners to not only determine the amount and type of traffic that visits their web site, but also to measure the success of online marketing efforts like those conducted through Google's per-per-click AdWords model. The ability to track the exact return on investment of pay-per-click campaigns allows site owners to better decide how and where to spend their marketing dollars.

A company press release stated that Google "plans to make these tools available to web site owners and marketers to better enable them to increase their advertising return on investment and make their web sites more effective."

"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 most obvious speculation as to why Google would make this purchase is that they are looking to integrate Urchin's tools into their pay-per-click program to help users better track and measure the success of their campaigns. With Yahoo! already offering a competing pay-per-click product and Microsoft's in development, the stakes of the paid search game are being raised. Capturing marketing dollars in the future will not simply be about offering an easy to use bidding system or having wide audience reach, but about providing marketers with the best suite of tools for determine how to receive the most bang for their buck.

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March 29, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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