NetIQ Offers Better Search Options

By Christopher Saunders | Posted April 09, 2004
In a move likely to consolidate the tools favored by many Web site operators, NetIQ, maker of the popular WebTrends suite of site analytics tools, is branching out into search engine marketing with the purchase of WebPosition Gold from FirstPlace Software.

WebTrends, of course, is a solution for measuring and fine-tuning site organization, e-commerce activities and advertising performance. WebPosition Gold provide search engine submission, site page optimization and search position monitoring tools -- and is one of most popular search engine optimization and marketing applications on the market.

NetIQ executives painted the acquisition -- terms of which were not disclosed -- as a victory for the number of online merchants and marketers who had made investments in both products.

"Our customers who are focused on improving the return on investment on all their marketing activities ... will very often use a product like WebPosition Gold in conjunction with WebTrends," said Greg Drew, senior vice president and general manager of San Jose, Calif.-based NetIQ's WebTrends unit. "It is very common for a customer to use both products today ... this is to give the business users all the tools they would need to improve their marketing activities and their ROI off those activities."

However, a jointly marketed WebTrends-WebPosition offering could encourage e-tailers who are using just one of the two products to adopt the other. Such a scenario seems especially likely considering the similarities in the offerings' target markets.

FirstPlace Software's users are "very similar to the WebTrends customer base, in that they [FirstPlace] tend to be selling to a combination of business and technical users, who are focused on marketing initiatives delivered through the Web," Drew said.

The pressure to buy both types of tools from a single vendor could be further enhanced if NetIQ seeks to merge the two products entirely. At present, Drew said the company has no plans to merge the WebTrends and WebPosition brands or technology -- but he added that NetIQ could consider doing so in the future.

"Bringing WebPosition Gold and WebTrends together and having them available from one company would certainly ... create an opportunity where the synergies will be quite apparent," Drew said. "Product lines do evolve and we may consider some additional points of leverage on the tech level in the future. None of those plans have been completed yet."

For WebTrends, the move comes as search engine marketing remains one of the hottest areas in Internet marketing -- and a chief source of spending for small businesses online.

"Everyone's really trying to improve their overall performance, and one of the things that's really nice about WebPosition Gold is it allows customers to be able to evaluate their Web site design so that the search engines can do an even better job than they already do," Drew said.

"It's a natural extension" for NetIQ, he added. "Even after we made an announcement, we had so many customers this week at our annual user conference in Orlando ... come up and say 'We've been using WebTrends for years and, gosh, we've been using WebPosition Gold for years, and it's really nice that they're both available from the same company now.'"

Christopher Saunders is managing editor of eCommerce-Guide.com.


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