Google made a big announcement yesterday, and it represents a fundamental change to how Google Analytics will work in the future (and especially how it will be marketed).
While there were several articles written to cover the developments, I found many of them to be vague in their descriptions. So I wanted to record a video that offered an opinion of the news release and also answer a question that should be on the minds of every single Google Analytics user:
What does this mean for me?
In this video I attempt to disseminate exactly what is being announced by Google, and how it affects the various types of users of Google Analytics.
It is my first video trying to predict the future, and I go into it with no insider knowledge. Yesterday was the first time I heard about Google Analytics 360 Suite and I relied on the same public sources of information that most of you will be reading as well.
Google Analytics 360 Suite in the headlines
There are several articles talking about this announcement, starting with one from Google themselves.
Google's official blog announcement of Analytics 360
Many others posted almost synchronously with Google's announcement (nice coordination team Google!)
Then there is the Google Analytics 360 website, which appears to be “gated” to only those with proper access. Of course, clicking around will give you access to the marketing version of this website. Google Analytics 360 Audience Center description.
What does it all mean?
There are many details that are still to be determined. The product is not available to more than a cadre of beta users at the moment. They are probably under an NDA, so don't expect a lot of screenshot leaks.
If you're an analytical type like me, this probably drives you crazy!
Here is what we have gathered about the Google Analytics 360 Suite of products. There are 6 products being announced. 3 of them exist currently, and the other three are brand new products.
- Analytics 360 (formerly GA Premium)
- Tag Manager 360 (GTM)
- Optimize 360 (beta) – brand new product
- Attribution 360 (formerly Adometry)
- Audience Center (beta) – brand new product
- Data Studio 360 (beta) – brand new product
I am excited to see if Optimize 360 is the true successor to Google Website Optimizer. GWO is one of my all time favorite tools, and there has been a hole in my CRO heart ever since Google sent it to the glue factory.
Audience center is probably the most exciting of them all. From what I have read in the sources mentioned above, it represents an open platform for data management that has been lacking in the standalone Google Analytics product. This opens new opportunities for analysis, and may be the missing link for Google to gain even greater marketshare with the Fortune 500.
And we can't end this section without mentioning the Fortune 500. Or the Fortune 5000 or the 1%ers or whatever you want to call it. These are the users who benefit most from this announcement.
Why? Because all of these products will be paid products. Consider them up-sells on the already too pricey for a SMB Google Analytics Premium product.
And I don't mean that in a negative way. Google Analytics Premium is awesome and worth the money. But it prices out many, many, many businesses because of the sticker price.
This suite of paid products will bring it further out of reach.
Alternatively, it could represent an opportunity for SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) to grab at the Google Analytics 360 Suite a la carte. This would become possible if Google reduces the price of Google Analytics 360 (formerly GA Premium) based on the number of visits to your site. I am hopeful that there will be a less expensive tier than currently available. Consider this wishful thinking on my part.
How will this affect me as a user of the standard Google Analytics product?
If you use standard Google Analytics – don’t worry yet. There is no sign that standard Google Analytics will change.
Google has long said that they are committed to giving Google Analytics to all website owners free of charge.
They have offered the product for free to SMBs to give them transparency into how AdWords ads were performing. And it worked!
We will use my experience as an example: I helped my father advertise his business with Google and Overture prior to 2005 (when Google Analytics came into play). The only way we knew if ads were working was when the phone rang. You pick some keywords and hopefully someone calls. It was like performing a rain dance, and fortunately clicks were cheap enough to make it rain.
But we had no idea what was working or how to get more. Then came Google Analytics. We got more transparency, and we spent more on advertising.
And Google prospered.
There is a lot to gain by Google by staying in touch with small and medium sized businesses.
The free Google Analytics tool is absolutely a loss leader/indirect revenue generator for Google AdWords. Not unlike ad supported television.
It will remain free forever*
*Please don't be wrong on this one, Jeff
Google Analytics is going to get a lot more top heavy
Ok, so SMBs are protected, and their diluted version of Google Analytics will remain. But what about future innovation?
You can rest assured that all future innovation will be going to the Google Analytics 360 Suite.
It generates two sources of revenue.
1) Much like how standard Google Analytics helps small businesses spend more on advertising, Google Analytics Premium helps larger businesses spend more. That is why they integrate with Doubleclick so tightly. That is why they work hard to integrate with a complete (dare I say 360?) view of the business.
And you know what? These businesses love Google for producing a product that helps them make more money. Everyone wins, as long as Google keeps channeling innovation into this product.
2) The Google Analytics 360 Suite is a direct source of revenue, and you can attach a real ROI to the product. Google is a business. Well, actually, Google is a business unit of Alphabet, Inc. But you get the point.
Like any business, they are wise to invest resources where there is revenue. With Google Analytics Premium being a growing source of revenue and momentum, Google can make a greater investment in this product.
With a revenue stream of 3 brand new products, they are going to have even more revenue to invest.
Good news for advertisers, big businesses, consultants and Google.
Probably not great news for Adobe Marketing Cloud and small organizations.
A little analysis of this decision by Google
The writing was on the wall for a marketing suite by Google. Premium advertisers and large customers demanded it.
By positioning this update as a suite of tools, Google brilliantly allows themselves to keep Google Analytics free to SMBs, but channel innovation through a new suite of products.
The truth is that Google Analytics has suffered from technology biases dating back to original Urchin product that eventually became Google Analytics. This product was very much focused on the web as we knew it, as early as 1997 (and through the 2005 acquisition).
These biases were both in technology (which Google has improved tremendously over the years), scale and the customer acquisition landscape. When GA launched, there was barely Facebook, there was no Twitter, no iPhone and no Android.
Sure, these social and mobile reports are now available in Google Analytics, but they are bolted-on.
This new suite of products allows for integrating new sources of data with a more streamlined collection mechanism. It also helps us move away from our biases toward the “web” as we once knew it.
That's what gets me the most excited.
New premium products will introduce new paradigms of measurement (and increased revenue streams for Google).
But at first this is an enterprise class offering for enterprise customers.
Small businesses can expect that the Google Analytics base product will get “trickle down” upgrades over time. You might see a report here or a report there, but it will likely be an afterthought.
The rift between Google Analytics and premium products will now get wider. But the free product will continue to get better, because Google can invest even more time and resources to solving enterprise class problems.
After solving those enterprise problems, generating reports for SMBs is a breeze.
I remain bullish on Google Analytics as a product, an ecosystem and a philosophy.
These updates don't change anything in the short term. In the long term they change everything.
In closing, I have to ask: what do you think about this video and instant reaction? We are trying something new here and I do hope you find it insightful. Please leave a comment if I got any of my facts wrong (or if you have a different opinion).