City Firm Analyzes Website Visitors

Andrew A. Duffy, Times Colonist

Original article published: Saturday, January 13, 2007

Website operators and online businesses will soon be able to unmask their previously anonymous customers and paint a profile of their communities thanks to a six-month-old Victoria firm.

Enquisite, a new company spun off from Metamend Software which specializes in getting their clients' websites to appear high on search engine results pages, was launched in August to analyze the traffic coming to websites.

The software makes it possible for website operators to determine who is visiting a site, how they got there and what phrases they used.

"The one thing about the Internet was always that is was impersonal, you didn't know who your customer was," said Richard Zwicky, CEO of both Metamend and Enquisite. "But now you do."

"This allows us to build a profile of what a community looks like and determine what people in, say, Victoria search for and how that may differ from people in Vancouver. And from a marketing perspective that's huge," he added.

The software can narrow down to the postal code an Internet query. But while the kind of information it will provide is a marketer's dream, Zwicky sees a higher purpose for the software.

"Our intention is to look at the pharmaceutical industry," he said, noting pharmaceutical companies build a profile of a community via a series of interviews with local health professionals, and depending on who they speak with they may get a skewed vision of the area.

Zwicky said that profile could be enhanced with the kind of information Enquisite provides, considering that when people are sick or get a prescription they often log onto the Internet to either check out their symptoms or the drugs they've been prescribed.

"We can capture all that information and build a profile of what's going on," he said noting it could give pharmaceutical companies help in finding a cluster of people with a certain disease or combination of diseases for testing or a better sense of where their drugs are being distributed.

That kind of in-depth analysis will come at a price, as will the application that provides a global perspective on website traffic results.

Enquisite, however, is committed to providing a free application to allow any website operator to track and analyze the traffic that comes to the site.

"We intend to give everybody [visibility] of what's going on at their website, but when they want perspective, what's going on in rest of the world, that's when they pay," he said.

That service will be able to show websites that while they are getting a certain percentage of hits from searches on Google they may not be doing as well on Yahoo or MSN, and therefore need to look at advertising there as well.

When it launches fully in the fall, Enquisite intends to offer a full suite of products that may also include click-fraud tracking and pay-for-click audits. Click fraud, estimated to be costing advertisers as much as $1 billion US a year according to Business Week magazine, is someone or something imitating a web surfer and clicking on ads to generate charges for the advertisers without an interest in the target of the ad link.

Enquisite, which has six full-time employees, is anticipating immediate growth and is hoping to hire another four people within the next month. It has just finalized its first round of financing to the tune of $2 million.

"Things are going very well," said Zwicky, noting they already have 780 websites using the free application through a word-of-mouth campaign and the company is now focused on making the service more user-friendly so anyone can use it without having to hire an analyst.