The secret is out: Microsoft is developing an analytics tool for Adcenter that will compete directly with Google Analytics. The information was leaked a few days ago by Dave Naylor, who learned of the analytics tool (codenamed “Gatineau”) at a Microsoft briefing in London. Somehow he got a hold of some screen shots and published them on his blog. This prompted a blog response from Ian Thomas, a Microsoft rep involved in Gatineau’s development and transition to the market. According to Thomas, Microsoft was about to make a public announcement about the tool when the leak occurred.
The leaked information reveals – and Thomas has confirmed — that the tool will be released in beta form some time later this summer, and will provide reports that filter data based demographics, such as age and gender. This immediately prompted concerns in the blogosphere over privacy issues, as the demographic data is said to be pulled directly from the Windows Live profiles of its users. But Thomas insisted on his blog that Microsoft “gets this information anonymously, and there is no use of personally identifiable information, such as name or e-mail address, in the product.”
It looks like the tool is going to launch in beta form and to a limited audience — the full launch probably won’t occur until later in the year. But privacy issues aside, there are still some questions that are yet to be answered. Search marketers want to know how much it will cost and what features, aside from the basic demographic charts shown in screen shots — will set it apart from Google Analytics. If it isn’t free, and if there isn’t a way to import/export data from other analytics applications, then it’s doubtful there will be enough incentive for people to make the switch. What do you think?