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Old 03-29-2005   #1
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Google Buys Urchin

I am shocked, I had no idea, not that I would know, but I do speak with the folks at Urchin every now and then. I have been using Urchin since they were in beta. Today I found out via SearchBlog that Google Acquires Urchin.

One of the Urchin folks have confirmed it to be true to me. In addition, John Battelle heard it might have gone for $30 million.

The best news, is that the players at Urchin will stick around.
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Old 03-29-2005   #2
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Whoa. Crazy news

way to go Urchin crew!
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Old 03-29-2005   #3
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This is one of the best news I've heard so far this year. I'm so happy for the folks at Urchin. No doubt, they have the best analytics software.... IMO, of course.

Here is Urchin's offical release: http://www.urchin.com/company/news/03282005.html

Here is Google's official release: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/...el/urchin.html

Cheers!!

Last edited by Nacho : 03-29-2005 at 03:32 AM. Reason: Added offical PR links
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Old 03-29-2005   #4
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Awesome! Congratulations to the Urchin crew. I wonder if this will be an up-charge to Adwords users.
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Old 03-29-2005   #5
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How much control does Google want?

Congratulations, of course, to the Urchin team - they have done well - and it is a good product.

However, I think Urchin users have to ask themselves the question "Do we want our most important advertising supplier to know how well we do, on what and what money we make?"

I'd compare this to buying a TV ad - it would be like the TV company preparing the accounts for a customer who's ad slots they were just about to negotiate a follow-on price for!

How much control of the market does Google want - and how much is the industry prepared to give?
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Old 03-29-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy AtkinsKruger
I think Urchin users have to ask themselves the question "Do we want our most important advertising supplier to know how well we do, on what and what money we make?"

I'd compare this to buying a TV ad - it would be like the TV company preparing the accounts for a customer who's ad slots they were just about to negotiate a follow-on price for!

How much control of the market does Google want - and how much is the industry prepared to give?
Good point. We use Urchin to tell us how much traffic Google, Overture, etc. send us and certainly trust it a lot more than the stats in the SE's own interfaces. Will be interesting to compare 2 different Google measures of the same traffic.

Last edited by Adam C : 03-29-2005 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 03-29-2005   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam C
Good point. We used Urchin to tell us how much traffic Google, Overture, etc. send us and certainly trust it a lot more than the stats in the SE's own interfaces. Will be interesting to compare 2 different Google measures of the same traffic.
And there in lies the rub.... a third-party solid company is grabbed by the search conglomerate.... they lose their independence and now the numbers have to be doubted a little... someone who uses Urchin should start keeping tracking of the descrepancies... if what used to be a 10-15% difference starts getting closer and closer to a match - we should all say 'yippee' Google is using Urchin to fix the problems...

LOL... if you believe that just go and buy that ticket to Stepford.
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Old 03-29-2005   #8
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I tend to agree the threats outweigh the benefits...

But one major benefit to those who buy analytics services may be disrupting the pricing models in the analytics biz. Higher-end analytics are still overpriced by like 400%. Not for long, now that Google and their monster computing power is entering the space. If I were a betting man, I'd bet against Hitbox and Webtrends et al.
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Old 03-29-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
I tend to agree the threats outweigh the benefits...

But one major benefit to those who buy analytics services may be disrupting the pricing models in the analytics biz. Higher-end analytics are still overpriced by like 400%. Not for long, now that Google and their monster computing power is entering the space. If I were a betting man, I'd bet against Hitbox and Webtrends et al.
I use WebSideStory (aka HitBox) and KeywordMax... I think Google is going to be hard pressed to provide that ongoing customer support that the others do.... unless the Urchin people become the teach and support ROI optimization at the next level... start inputting info about page content etc.
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Old 03-29-2005   #10
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Does it seem like Google is ramping up to squeeze out SEMs and agencies for small to mid-size companies.

You can already use the conversion tracking pixel with other campaigns--and now they might offer real web analytics.

What next? Will they acquire a SEM or an agency, or revamp Adwords to offer automated bidding?
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Old 03-29-2005   #11
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Well Ask and Lycos both have SEM divisions of some kind.
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Old 03-29-2005   #12
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Just got off the phone with one of the great people at Urchin. They are so guddy about this. Of course this is not done yet, but should be by the end of April.

Please express all your concerns here and I will get them to address it directly, or through me.
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Old 03-29-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Well Ask and Lycos both have SEM divisions of some kind.
That's true, but even Lycos' tool, which works with other engines, only lets you set max bids and payment options. Overture's tool is nice too, but also has limitations.

This looks like Google is going after the big boys. Trying to become a one-stop advertising solution, even for non-search markets
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Old 03-29-2005   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeldBum
This looks like Google is going after the big boys. Trying to become a one-stop advertising solution, even for non-search markets
I agree. Urchin has some nice relationships with ISPs. Click a button and presto, AdWords account hooked into Urchin and into your Web site. Real time ROI without complicated APIs or flat files.

Do we need Did-it for its tools anymore? Of course there are other programs; overture and soon to come msn.

Did-it is more about the services side anyway. But what about your competitors?
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Old 03-29-2005   #15
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Originally Posted by rustybrick
Did-it is more about the services side anyway. But what about your competitors?
A lot of tool-heavy SEM firms are either spending their time now worrying about this announcement or rethinking strategy. If Google does get serious about agency-style tools, SEMs targeting small players are going to get hurt. Already I meet a lot of people at the conferences who are using Overture's tool over any SEM's.
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Old 03-29-2005   #16
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Does anyone know if Urchin is holding any patents that Google needed to get their hands on?
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Old 03-29-2005   #17
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Urchin Patent

Hi Nacho,

I don't know if there was a "need," But there is a patent:

System and method for monitoring and analyzing internet traffic (earlier version here)

And here's one that has been assigned to them, but is still in the application stage:

System and method for tracking unique visitors to a website
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Old 03-29-2005   #18
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Yes, very interesting news indeed. I have been reading all the mixed reviews on some of the forums and blogging about some of the forum threads on my blog this morning. So interesting to read the different view points and conspiracy theories.
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Old 03-29-2005   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragadocchio
I don't know if there was a "need," But there is a patent:

System and method for monitoring and analyzing internet traffic (earlier version here)

And here's one that has been assigned to them, but is still in the application stage:

System and method for tracking unique visitors to a website
Very interesting! I'm sure Google has a big list of reasons to want to buy Urchin, but I wonder how much these patent's weigh in the sale?

Anyone who understands patent law want to attempt to identify Urchin's patent uniqueness that Google may be going after?
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Old 03-30-2005   #20
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That's a tall order, Nacho.

Patent law by itself is complex enough.

The difficulty in explaining the "uniqueness" of the subject matter of the patent that Urchin holds comes in having an idea of all of the potentially similar business methods and algorithms that exist, and being able to explain how Urchin's patent is different.

Patent law and admiralty law are historically and traditionally the only two fields of legal practice where an lawyer can claim a specialization under most State's Rules of Professional Conduct. And for a good reason. To practice those types of laws, and to do it well, you need to be a specialist.

I can give you a few points of patent law in a nutshell, but I don't think that I can provide a detailed analysis of the uniqueness of Urchin's patent.

First of all, the granting of a patent is an exclusionary right. It doesn't grant a right to manufacture a product, or use a particular method. Rather, the granting of a patent allows the patent holder “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the subject matter of the patent within the US, or importing that invention into the US, for a limited period of time.

There are typically three things that will be looked at in the decision to grant a patent -- an invention must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office gives an excellent general overview of patent law: General Information Concerning Patents

The section on that page that is titled What Can Be Patented describes what is meant by "new" and "useful."

The following section, Novelty And Non-Obviousness, Conditions For Obtaining A Patent goes into a little detail on what is meant by "non-obvious."

Here's a small, and not complete, snippet from that section:

Quote:
The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. For example, the substitution of one color for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily not patentable.
By the use of your word "unique," we're possibly looking at whether the subject matter of the patent was nonobvious at the time the patent was applied for.

To tell that, it's probably necessary to survey similar patents, and descriptions of processes in printed materials or public uses of a technology that could be related.

That's just a simplified view of patent law and how it might apply, and I am definitely not a patent law specialist, or even a practicing attorney.

But, if you want to find out what is unique about that patent, you'll probably want to take a close look at what else was out there to see if the right to enforce the patent was what attracted Google to make this purchase.

Of course, the purchase may have simply been made as a way of quickly employing a number of people with an understanding and skills in working with the technology that Urchin employees possess. Or because someone at Google felt that the acquisition made sense because the technology is a good fit with present or future plans of the Search Engine.
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