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March 07, 2008

News, news, news...

Sigh. Blog post topics seem to be like buses - you wait ages for one to come along, and then three come along all at once. Actually, I've got four things to post about, but I'm going to leave two until after the weekend. Here are the other two. Funnily enough, they're related - both are about benchmark data.

1. Compete.com cashes in

Online traffic benchmarking service Compete.com has been bought by UK-based market research firm TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres). This is a good result for the folks at Compete, who have been waging a four-way battle with Quantcast, Alexa, and Comscore. Funnily enough the deal isn't stellar, despite the significant attention that Compete (and benchmarking services in general) has been getting recently - it's only a guaranteed $75m, with another $75m payable on achievement of revenue targets. Compete Inc has accepted about $43m in investment since it started in 2,000, so I guess the investors are pleased but not delighted.

The rest of TNS's business is pretty traditional market research stuff, so it'll be interesting to see how they integrate/expoit Compete's capabilities. Moving the footprint outside of the US seems like one obvious goal they may look to achieve in the not-too-distant future.

2. Google Analytics rolls out new data sharing feature

Logging onto Google Analytics this week, I was interested to see the new data sharing options that the product is making available:

image

So the key option in the above list is #2 - allowing GA to share your data with its "benchmarking service", where data from sites in a similar industry will be aggregated together for benchmark reports, like the sample below:

image

This is a smart thing for Google to do, as it provides an incentive for GA users to share their data by providing them with a solid benefit in return. It will be interesting to see how GA determines which industry a site is in; I guess they will mine the search index for those sites and use some behavioral targeting-type techniques to drop a site into a category based upon the words that appear on the site's pages. I have no idea how they'll categorize my site - they'll probably drop it into a "blogs" industry segment, since Google already knows that my site is a blog.

The other smart part of this move is to make it easy to turn off data sharing altogether. I presume that this means that no GA data will be used to inform decisions about, for example, keyword ranking in Adwords; though GA's terms of use are still a little vague on this point. As I was discussing with Brian Clifton a couple of weeks ago in London, our part of the web analytics industry (companies that offer services for free, and monetize the service indirectly) need to be super-clear about how the data is going to be used.

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