As predicted by many Google-watchers, the “Google Trends for websites” offering that launched on the weekend was just the appetizer — an aperitif, if you will. The main course launched today (as reported by the WSJ, and is a website-analytics service that appears to be aimed directly at the leading analytics companies, comScore and Nielsen, not to mention Hitwise and Compete.com and other assorted players in the market. But the key, as the WSJ notes, is that:

“Unlike the services from comScore and Nielsen, Google’s will be offered to marketers free, according to ad executives.”

Another industry destabilized by Google’s devotion to free services, and the fact that its massive online advertising engine produces so much free cash that it can afford to offer such features for nothing (in much the same way that Microsoft’s dominance in desktop software produced so much revenue that it could afford to offer Internet Explorer for free, which cratered Netscape’s browser business). The service, called AdPlanner, is aimed at helping advertisers target their offerings better, based on an understanding of what kind of demographic is seeing their campaigns at what websites.

It will be interesting to see whether Nielsen and comScore (whose stock price had lost about 18 per cent of its value the last time I checked) will try to make the argument that Google is so large it is effectively being anti-competitive by offering such services for free. And it’s also worth considering — as some people have mentioned — that advertisers might not want to base their campaigns on data from the same company that is trying to reel them in as customers. Is the Google fox trying to convince advertisers that the henhouse is a nice place to spend the night?

At the same time, however, the numbers that come from comScore and Nielsen are notoriously unreliable, and there will be plenty of companies eager for whatever information Google can provide. Investors in comScore might want to consider having an exit strategy.

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

9 Responses to “Google brings the hurt to comScore”
  1. Google just keeps driving down the price of web-based services, eh? The latest one was surveys. I just tried the survey functionality in Google Docs, and it works fairly well. I thought to myself, 'adios, SurveyMonkey et al'.

    Besides, I'll bet that Google does a better job than comScore and Compete–their results were often utter bollocks.

  2. something that i hardly ever seen mentioned is that google's “devotion to free services” is not because of the huge pile of cash it generates on an hourly basis. on the contrary, the majority of services google releases or buys is geared to increasing the size of the pile.

    for instance:

    if i'm an e-commerce Web site owner, and i sign up for free analytics, i can put a price on my traffic, based on conversions. when traffic has a price, i'm now more likely to try to buy traffic using AdWords

    the more blogs there are in the world (blogger.com), the more content needs to be indexed and the more competition there is around key words. now as a marketer, in order to ensure i'm top of the pile when it comes to people searching for my key terms, i buy them.

    similarly, the more marketers know about the Web, and its metric driven effectiveness, the more they will spend on AdWords to attract new users and new customers.


  3. wait a minute…. if I use google analytics in my site, this stupid pop up i keep getting every time I log in now asking me if i want to share my data (to which I always vehemently click “no no no”) they are going to just share my data with anyone who wants it?

    I'm noticing issues with google analytics NOT matching my own database data (google analytics has worse numbers). So they're going to share this crap data with others??

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