Six years after launching Google Analytics as a free service for the web at-large, Google has introduced a for-pay incarnation of the traffic tracking machine designed specifically for the enterprise.
The move is yet another example of Google re-sculpting a free web service into a product that enterprises are actually willing to pay for.
“This is the obvious next step for Analytics,” said Joe Stanhope, an analyst with research outfit Forrester. “Google is increasingly serious about the enterprise, with services like Google Apps and even mobile devices. It wants very much to be working with these types of customers.”
But at the same time, the new service — known as Google Apps Premium — plays straight into the company’s primary online ad business, which still accounts for more than 95 percent of its revenue. Google Analytics — the world’s most popular web analytics tool by far — already plugs into the company’s AdWords advertising platform, and Stanhope sees the Premium tool as an effort to give large businesses an added push toward AdWords and other Google ad platforms.
“Google doesn’t behave like a normal enterprise software vendor. Their real money is in search and media,” Stanhope said. “Companies who use analytics are interested in online marketing, including search marketing, and it behooves Google to help these companies get smarter about marketing. These companies will be more successful, and they’ll spend more on ads.”
Unveiled on Thursday after a few months of private testing, Google Analytics Premium includes, yes, technical support, training, and honest-to-goodness service level agreements — guarantees that the service is there when you want it (most of the time) — but it also offers added processing power and modeling tools that can handle much larger amounts of data.
“There were some things that large enterprises were missing with the free service. And these were things that were preventing some companies from using Analytics as their main analytical tools — or from using Analytics all together,” Google Analytics senior product manager Enrique Munos Torres told Wired. “The Premium service adds these things to the core Analytics product.”
Available now, the service sells for $150,000 a year in the US and Canada and 90,000 pounds a year in the UK. It’s available directly from Google or from various resellers. Current users include Travelocity, Gucci, TransUnion, and Papa John’s Pizza. The free service will remain in place, with Torres saying Google is “completely committed” to the existing product.
According to Stanhope, Google’s flat $150,000 yearly fee will likely mean that the service is less expensive than the other big name for-pay analytics tools, including Adobe’s Omniture, IBM’s Core Metrics, and the independent WebTrends. These outfits typically charge according to how much you use a service.
But Aseem Chandra, vice president of product marketing for Adobe’s digital marketing unit, questions whether Google can match what customers get from a service like Omniture. “If Google is coming in with one price for every customer,” he said, “this is yet another indicator that they haven’t really figured out the enterprise space.”
Chandra sees Google Analytics Premium as a classic loss leader. “If Google is selling this for $150,000 a pop, they can’t really create a meaningful revenue stream for what is a $30 billion business,” he said. “I think Google is pushing this as a loss leader to grab the ad spend.”
Of course, Google was already pushing Analytics as a loss leader to grab the ad spend. For six years, it was completely free.