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No doubt Google's acquisition of Urchin Software (rumoured by Battelle to be worth $30 million) was in the works for a while, but MSN's AdCenter announcement (with its enhanced analytics) might have given the deal whatchya might call a "nudge."

Less noticed was the simultaneous acquisition of Web analytics provider WebTrends by private equity firm Francisco Partners for a reported $94 million.

The acquisition of Urchin seems to prepare for a time when advertisers are much more demanding about analytics and the who, what, where, when, why of their campaigns. (MSN's AdCenter was something of a shot over the bow in that battle.) It also generally goes to the larger issue of advertiser control over the campaign. To that end, Blowsearch is doing some interesting things (IP blocking) to help address click fraud.

AdCenter opened something of a new front (or should I say back end?) in the so-called "search wars" and at least hypothetically raised the bar in reporting metrics.

iProspect's CEO Fredrick Marckini told me he believes the Urchin acquisition is ultimately about improving Google's contextual product AdSense.

We'll see how Google implements Urchin.

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