I logged into my Google Analytics account tonight only to be presented with a new option: Benchmarking Beta. Apparently you can opt into a program that lets Google anonymously datamine all of your statistics. (At first you're always thinking why on earth you would want to opt into this.) However, if you do so, data from other sites that have also enabled benchmarking all get combined and Google shows how your site compares to industry standards.

I can't really comment much on the new feature because it says that my first report will appear within a few weeks, but I'm encouraged to see what type of statistics it will present me with.

While your first instincts would be that you wouldn't want your sensitive website stats to be a part of Google's datamining, I'm not so sure there's much of a security concern if you're already using Google Analytics. They already have everything in their database anyways. The only thing that does scare me a bit is that you're not just opting into Google's datamining for the purpose of this one additional feature ... you're also authorizing Google to use the results produced from the datamining in other ways. This new feature is just the bait to hook you on enabling it.

I'd be curious to know whether this all came not long after the FTC approved the Google-DoubleClick merger, which will thrust Google into the world of more traditional banner advertising (a huge contrast to their text link ads that they've always insisted were the Internet's replacement to the ever-weakening banner ads).