Google Analytics 360 Suite

Just to reassure you that I haven’t been living under a rock these past days, I too have read Googles big announcement ¬†regarding their successor to Google Analytics Premium, the Analytics 360 Suite. I haven’t seen the new product yet – while I (or rather, my employers) work with some GA Premium clients this has not yet been rolled out widely (parts of it are still in beta).

I have to say the first announcement was a bit underwhelming – some rather unspecific marketing fluff (“powerful data management, beautiful visualization” and other powerful and beautiful yadda yadda (plus a video of talking heads telling how great everything is. Well, they wouldn’t be in the video had they said otherwise).

Now that I have that of my chest: There is a webpage that provides more information on the individual products (the “suite” comprises six complementary products, two rebranded and four new, at least if you count the renamed/relaunched Adometry as a new product). Here is where it get’s somewhat more interesting.

Analytics 360 and Tag Manager 360 seem to be just the renamed GA Premium and GTM. These two are flagship products of sorts that have got a lot of love from Google in any case, so there was no need for a big overhaul.

Optimize 360 (beta) adresses one of the few shortcomings of GA. Not only is A/B testing rather via content experiments somewhat cumbersome and not very elegant (I hope the new product dispenses with the need for redirects), when Google retired the Google Website Optimizer they also removed the capability for multivariate testing; this seems to be restored with Optimize 360.

Attribution 360 and Audience Center 360 both integrate external data (offline data and Doubleclick/third party data providers data respectively). And they can feed their processed data back to DSPs and realtime bidding platforms so you can use it in your media buying.

Finally Data Studio 360 is something that I had actually been expecting (because everything needed for it was in place for some time now) – a report builder/dashboard platform based on the technology developed for Google Docs that integrates data from various Google Products (Analytics, Big Query, Docs etc), uploaded csv data and data from unspecified “other sources”.

All products come with an SLA and ongoing support (presumably by certified Google Partners). Currently I see no information if the new products are included in an ongoing Analytics Premium contract or if they will be charged separately (Lunametrics seems to have better intel on that – their article on Google 360 says “Current Google Analytics 360 customers will also get Google Tag Manager 360 as part of their license, but the other announced products will need to be added on as needed.”

So, what does that mean ? In the short run probably not that much – the stuff has to come out of beta, big companies do not easily migrate away from existing solutions etc. In the medium and long term this will probably destroy most aftermarket solutions in the enterprise sector (I guess there still will be a niche to provide services for standard GA users). Who would want to buy a third party product when they can have a comprehensive, well integrated marketing solution from the top dog in the game. And which vendor can up the ante against a company with the resources (both in money and in access to data) of Google.

In some ways this is scary, e.g. from a privacy perspective when you consider how much user data is merged here for marketing purposes, or from a companies perspective that might feel uneasy to put all it’s eggs in one basket.

But I have to say from a technological point of view this is nothing short of amazing – probably not the end, but at least a major waypoint in an amazing journey. What has now become Google Analytics 360 used to be a hodgepodge of unconnected acquisitions. Google Analytics for much of it’s career was a half-assed adaption of the original Urchin, brought in to support the then-new Adwords program. Doubleclick was acquired in 2007 and live in uncommunicative semi-autism alongside the other Google products. And for a while it was not easy to see what, if any, strategy was behind the string of new products and changes to existing products. Well, now we know.

It’s a suite of interconnected products with a well designed protocol for data collection, programmatically accessible via standardized APIs with fairly elegant code, using Google Docs technology for report building and held together by a distinctive visual language.

Some people feel that Google set their sights for world domination, and that might as well be true. But looking at the quality of their products, you can at least not accuse them of taking any shortcuts.

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