Google has developed a paid version of its Analytics website usage monitoring service that offers better performance, more sophisticated features and broader technical support than the free product, the company said on Friday.
Analytics Premium is designed for sites with very heavy traffic that need "extra processing power" behind their analytics software so that they can collect more data, perform more complex analysis and generate more granular reports, Google said.
The paid version of Analytics will also feature advanced service offerings for things like custom implementations and around-the-clock technical support, the company said in a blog post. Google also offers service level agreements for Analytics Premium.
While developing Analytics Premium, Google worked with some of its biggest Analytics users, including Travelocity and Gucci. The service is available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for an undisclosed annual fee. Companies can sign up for it directly with Google or through Analytics resellers.
Google Analytics used to be a paid service back when it was called Urchin on Demand, but after Google acquired the company in 2005, it made it a free product.
Google's decision to offer Urchin on Demand as a free product rocked the website analytics market at the time, since most vendors charged for their wares. Urchin on Demand, for example, cost $199 per month.
Since acquiring Urchin Software, Google has continued to develop and sell an on-premise version of the software, which in its most recent version -- Urchin 7 -- costs $9,995 in the U.S.
However, Google from the start has encouraged customers to use Analytics, whose software is hosted by Google in its data centers in a software-as-a-service cloud model.
It's interesting to see Google come around after six years and reintroduce a paid version of the cloud-hosted product to the market for heavy-duty users who rely on Analytics to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of ad campaigns or the popularity of website content. The decision may in part reflect the increased importance websites play in businesses, and the need for companies to closely track usage to fine-tune marketing campaigns, e-commerce initiatives and content strategies.
Google said on Friday that it will continue to develop and enhance the free version of Analytics.