Yahoo just announced that they’re buying a company that makes a competitor to Google Analytics and releasing it for free. This is the first rational thing I’ve seen coming from Yahoo in quite some time. Although I’m not a big fan of the “buy product, release for free” business strategy, a web traffic analyzer is a perfect loss-leader for Yahoo, because it should boost their ailing ad program. The value of Google Analytics for Google is that it helps me maximize my AdWords revenue. That means more immediate revenue for Google and increases the chance I’ll use them again in the future. Now that Yahoo’s own ad program will have a similar tool, they should be better positioned to get and retain business from web publishers. Whether that actually ends up being the case depends on a large number of things—the quality of the purchased product, how well integrated it will be with Yahoo Publisher—but at least it’s a step in a very good direction for Yahoo.