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Webmasters get a reality check

Accrue Software readies a tracking tool that tells Webmasters who looks at their sites and how quickly visitors get the pages they request.

An eight-month-old Internet software firm will next month deliver Web-site tracking software that tells Webmasters not only who is looking at their site but how quickly they are getting the pages they request.

Targeted at Web sites that handle up to 1 million hits a day, Accrue Software's new Insight product analyzes both content and network data so Web site managers can modify their offerings to improve site performance.

In addition to identifying what content is being looked at, Accrue measures network delivery issues: How long do downloads take? How many visitors abort a download because it's too slow? How long did it take a visitor to connect? How fast is the Web server responding?

"You need to understand both what visitors are viewing and how the network and server is delivering that information," said Simon Roy, Accrue's CEO. "There is a subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, interplay between content and delivery."

When the network is slow, people don't surf very long, he noted.

"This software will remove the virtual blindfold from Web site managers," said analyst Christopher Stevens of the market research firm the Aberdeen Group in a statement.

The Insight software--due to ship next month for Sun workstations and cost $15,000 and up--counts every visit and displays data instantly so Webmasters can make immediate adjustments if needed. The software also: --grants remote access to advertisers or content providers. --aggregates results in a database for later analysis. --allows analysts to import data from other sources to compare with Insight data. --tracks a visitor who returns to a sight more than once to examine their viewing pattern over time.

Accrue's software addresses a niche other Internet software firms aren't targeting, according to Scott Nelson, of computer consultancy, the Gartner Group.

The most comparable existing service is called net.Sweep from Net.Genesis, which tests the performance of Web servers. Software products from Interse, and services like Internet Profiles, and NetCount mainly track content and visitors, but not network speeds.

Beta testers of Insight include Yahoo, Organic Online, BigBook, HotWired, General Motors/Mediaworks, Perot Systems, and CKS Group.

Founded in February, Accrue has attracted a diverse set of investors, including investment adviser Sterling Payot, Eos Partners, Web site creator Organic Online, and ad agency CKS. Accrue recently changed its name from Gauge Technologies.