(Note: Updated below)
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that possibly as early as today, Google will be introducing a new 'tool' that will provide visitor stats on websites (and blogs) to advertisers. The service will be free.
This is much bigger news than it seems on the surface.
Advertisers and advertising companies have been in a difficult position for a while.
The good news. There are now more places to find 'your market' than ever before. Cable TV, Satellite, Local Cable, Radio, Web Portals, Websites, Blogs, Social Networks, and more.
The bad news. Who's data can you trust?
Imagine yourself buying ad space.
You could compare Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Comscore, Nielsen Online and others.
In most cases, the stats are very different.
Obviously, Google wants your ad money. What better way to get your business than to help you effectively target your campaign with a 'better' tool.
It's bigger than that. The landscape could (and probably will) change overnight. Ad agencies and others will be realigning their procedures and campaigns within weeks (if not days).
The bare fact is, unless someone makes a huge error (which is unlikely), Google's data will probably be better. Much better.
It's not because they're HUGE. It's not because they can track 'whose searching for what'.
It's because their stat monitoring software is already embedded in tens of thousands of websites and blogs.
Google Analytics was an outgrowth of the company's acquisition of Urchin. It's in use almost universally. Why? It's free and it's excellent.
Then there's FeedBurner. Another Google acquisition. Every minute of every day delivering feeds from blogs and websites, large and small.
This blog uses both.
As the next few days play out, it's going to be very interesting to see what the product looks like, how it's implemented, and the reaction, from advertisers, and the industry as a whole.
Update 11 AM ET: Google has released details on the new Google Ad Planner on the Official Adwords blog .