So I asked the Google folks why the terms of service on their new free Web analytics product says it's not for commercial use. Here's the response:
"Thank you for your email. You should feel free to use Google Analytics on for-profit commercial sites. We are working to correct the unclear language during the signup process that suggests that Google Analytics cannot be used on commercial sites. Thank you for your patience."
Nice folks, and the answer that small-businesspeople want.
Meanwhile, I think this could be big in the space: lots of folks who could benefit from Web analysis but are hesitant to drop chunks of change on it can now get it. So I asked my friend Eric Petersen, an analyst at Jupiter what he thinks, whether folks will still pay. His answer: Yes, for service.
His answer is so cogent, that rather than paraphrase, I'm posting the whole thing here:
"Small-business owners who are interested in trying to figure out what is working and what is not on their Web sites but who have little or no previous investment (of time, money, etc.) in analytics will definitely benefit from Google's announcement. Free is good.
"Still, based on Jupiter Research's Framework for Business Success with analytics, the investment chasm is only the first hurdle that must be overcome. Companies who are serious about their online presence will still need to staff for analytics and figure out how to get the organization to use Web data to look forward, not backward. Historically speaking, these chasms are more easily crossed with vendor support--some hand-holding to answer questions and get dedicated resources (e.g., staff) up to speed.
"It's unlikely that Google will provide this level of hand-holding, I suspect. Their immediate problems are all about application support, not business analysis.
"The Google announcement lowers the bar and certainly puts more pressure on the existing (for-fee) analytics vendors, but I don't believe it wipes the industry out. When it's appropriate, I suspect that small-business owners will still see the value in contracting with a for-fee analytics provider to get more specific expertise and support than Google is likely to provide."