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Would-Be Alexa Killer SimilarWeb Raises An Additional $3.5 Million

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A company out to topple the stronghold Alexa still has on web rankings despite serious questions involving accuracy is Tel Aviv-based SimilarGroup, makers of an online web measurement tool called SimilarWeb. Today, the company is announcing an additional $3.5 million in funding, and the launch of its paid service, SimilarWeb Pro.

The new funding, an extension of SimilarGroup’s Series B, comes from angel investor Lord David Alliance, chairman of N Brown Group, a clothing catalog retailer, and includes participation from previous investors, Moshe Lichtman and Docor International. To date, SimilarGroup has raised $7 million in total outside funding.

The company was originally founded in 2009, and until recently had only been known for its suite of branded browser plugins (e.g. SimilarWeb, SimilarSites), which offer users suggestions of other websites like the one they’re visiting, and other useful information such as web rankings, traffic sources, reach, and more. But SimilarWeb actually has a network involving hundreds of different plugins, CEO Or Offer tells us, whose combined reach today is in the “tens of millions” of end users.

SimilarWeb won’t disclose these plugins by name, however. “We don’t want users to try to manipulate our data, like they’re doing to Alexa,” Offer explains. “That’s one of their weaknesses – their panel is very biased, as it’s based on their toolbar,” he says.

He notes also that with SimilarWeb’s reach, its panel is much larger than competitors like Compete or comScore, which clock in at around 2 million panel users each. And while there are always concerns when measuring through panels instead of directly, the focus for SimilarWeb has been an ongoing quest for accuracy. To this end, it has employed data scientists with machine-learning, big data and statistics backgrounds to help it continually improve its data.

“We have a research team and data quality people, who have a responsibility to make sure the data quality is high in every country we measure,” Offer says.

SimilarWeb is not U.S.-focused, like some of the other measurement firms today are – and in fact, it’s now opening up a new office in London to help it further expand its global presence. There are currently just two people employed in London out of the 40 total working for SimilarGroup, but the company expects to add anther 10, mainly in enterprise sales, across all locations going forward.

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The additional hires relate to SimilarGroup’s other major news today – the public debut of SimilarWeb Pro, the first paid version of its web measurement service. This product has actually been in development for a year and half, allowing the time for the company to work with its customers on product features, functions and look-and-feel. In the meantime, it launched SimilarWeb, its free service, to the public.

From the beta period to today’s official launch, the company has already signed up hundreds of paying customers for its premium version, the company claims, and while they can’t disclose some of those by name, their website includes a few testimonials from Taboola, William Hill, New England Business Media, and Fanplayr.

With Pro, a $99/month version offers customers more insights and in-depth analytics than in the free version, allowing for things like competitor benchmarking, geographic breakdowns, referral and keyword tracking, details regarding social visits, access to advertising data, lists of popular pages on a site, and more. In the next step up, a $500/month version allows for 3 user accounts, and offers full lists of keywords (organic and paid), referrals (inbound and outbound), and more, instead of just the top 50 as with the basic plan. Enterprise users can request custom plans for five for more users, and can also segment all data by country. (More details on Pro are here).

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The free service will see some improvements in the months ahead, too, especially in terms of making the data more user-friendly, shareable and embeddable. That site today has passed over 1 million uniques.

While no third-party measurement tools are as accurate as the internal data sites collect for themselves, most marketers understand that these panel-based services are meant to be estimates, not exacts, and proceed accordingly. Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement in this space – an industry so challenged by miscounts and inaccuracy that even Offer admits it’s a “tough market.” But, he says, people can look at their own data and compare it to what SimilarWeb provides to come to their own conclusions.