New service helps users spy on Web rivals

Ever wondered how your competitors attract Web visitors? Or what consumers look at and purchase once they arrive at a rival site?

That's just the kind of information a new service announced Tuesday by WebSideStory and comScore Networks Inc. promises its users. The vendors say the service, called HitBox Benchmarker, lets companies study the Web traffic patterns of their competitors' Web sites and compare those results to their own site's performance.

HitBox Benchmarker is a subscription service that marries WebSideStory's clickstream analysis technology with comScore's consumer surfing data. The resulting service could allow a bank to monitor its own site as well as Wells Fargo's site, for example, and then use the data collected to better target its marketing and advertising campaigns.

With HitBox Benchmarker, users can view variables including the top paths taken through a site; time spent on a site; most requested pages; referring domains, URLs and search engines; search keywords; and new and returning visitor counts. Analytical reports are delivered through a graphical Web interface.

The data is based on the online activity of 200,000 Internet users. These users are among comScore's 1.5 million members who have allowed comScore to confidentially monitor their Internet activity in exchange for comScore's speeding up their Internet service.

WebSideStory provides the statistical analysis and reporting functionality.

"Many companies are developing an understanding of visitor behavior on their own sites, but we can now add the invaluable dimension of behavior on peer sites and across the Web, in near real time," WebSideStory President and CEO John Hentrich says.

Initial customers using HitBox Benchmarker include consumer electronics retailer Best Buy and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Pricing starts at US$90,000 for monitoring a company's own site plus one other site for one year. Users can add additional sites for $20,000 per site per year. The HitBox Benchmarker service is available now.

WebSideStory is at www.websidestory.com

comScore Networks is at www.comscore.com

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