Google acquires Urchin software

This week the major search engine Google purchased one the leading web analytics software companies: Urchin. Obviously Google falls in the same trend as competitors MSN and Yahoo, expanding in all directions and integrating a broad range of services.
Web analytics is a very fast growing market. The online marketing community needs to perform data analysis in order to track results from brand awareness, SEO and pay per click campaigns.

Recent announcement from Google showed that the billion dollar company’s success is due mainly to its PPC feature: 98% of the search engine revenue comes from Adwords.
Let’s take a look at it from the marketer’s prospective: there are 3 main PPC ads providers online worldwide – Google, Yahoo and soon the new MSN adCenter.
Say I am a consultant and want to perform a data analysis on the traffic, paid and organic provided by Google but I also want to be able to collect an accurate data for my other favorite engines. Would I trust a search engine vendor to sell me this type of software even if I may not believe that Google would temper my log files to inflate its own results? An independent 3rd party solution would definitely provide me with more confidence.
The web analytics market is expected to grow seriously for the next 2 years and acquiring one of the leading companies on this market is obviously a smart move. Still, I have expected Yahoo or MSN to make such a move first.

In addition to what the impact of the deal would be on the web analytics market, I wonder how this acquisition could be useful to Google.
Recent events earlier this year, this month and even this week may hold keys to the answers:
Yahoo buys Flickr, renames Overture to Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions, creates web logs, constantly upgrades its search engine and more
MSN launches its proprietary search algorithm, creates a product search similar to Froogle’s (still in beta), develops its PPC engine and more
Considering recent events, the first impression may be that Google is really feeling threatened by the competitors moves in the market. The much contested addition of autolink in its future toolbar doesn’t help Google feel more secure.Even though the giant search engine is so well branded all over the world, Yahoo and MSN are investing an incredible amount of time and money to get more users on all fronts.

Up to now there was no way for Google to double check how good its position on the PPC and search result market (as far as conversion rates, traffic and more) has been except if they could directly look into your servers data. By purchasing Urchin, which offers not only a stand alone application but also a hosted version, Google can now verify its market position and effectiveness against MSN and Yahoo. What a great opportunity to understand market trends and counterstrike competitors improvements!

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