The Google Analytics 360 suite – analytics reborn?

Two months ago, Google announced the Google Analytics 360 suite, a revamped product offering to bolster its Google Analytics premium package. It’s been beefed up to cater for the shortcomings of Google Analytics and aims to take on the likes of Adobe Marketing Cloud.

To summarise, it comes in six modules:

  • Google Analytics 360 – Google Analytics Premium
  • Google Tag Manager 360 – Google Tag Manager’s big brother
  • Google Audience Centre 360 – Data management platform
  • Google Data Studio 360 – Data visualisation platform
  • Google Optimise 360 – Dedicated testing platform allowing for personalisation (think content experiments on steroids)
  • Google Attribution 360 (again, think attribution reporting on steroids)

They are certainly starting from a good launch platform, with 80% of UK web properties using Google Analytics. Therefore, this suite presents itself as an interesting proposition for those looking for the next step up.

So what’s so attractive about it and why is this new platform launch interesting to both the marketer and web analyst?

Google Analytics can’t do everything

Analytics has changed and evolved over time but, ultimately, it was built to track page level traffic statistics. Extras, such as behavior and attribution reporting, increase its appeal and provide some insight into what’s possible. Making them work properly requires extra setup and, even then, the reporting is limited compared to systems that have been engineered from the ground up to track users and attribution.

It’s from Google

There’s a familiarity factor. If you’ve been using Google Analytics, staying within the Google ecosystem for the extended toolset would be a natural progression. There is also the support element with Google products, maybe not particularly from Google themselves, but if you have a problem or need inspiration, there are plenty of forums and blogs that can help.

It forces marketers and analysts to upskill

Let’s face it, Analytics made marketers and analysts lazy. In reality, getting Google Analytics to report correctly was a far more difficult task than just placing the JavaScript in the header of every page. Merging the extra packages together as a suite forces the conversation that there are other avenues that need to be explored when it comes to digital tracking, deployment, and attribution.

It places a value on data and analytics

The fact that Google Analytics is free has meant that, for the majority, little emphasis is placed on the quality and accuracy of its data. As it’s free, the ROI of Analytics never becomes a conversation and, therefore, no one is made accountable and the data becomes an afterthought. No money has been spent on the platform, why spend it on an analyst, right?

There are upcoming free versions

Keep an eye out for the non-360 versions in the coming months. They have already launched the free version of their data visualization platform – Data Studio – a product directly competing with the likes of Tableau and Qlik. While limited in reporting and collaborative capabilities compared to its big brother, it’s most likely going to be impressive, with its built-in integration with Google Analytics and Adwords. The down side is that the beta has only been released in the US at the moment!

Will it have the masses flocking towards it? Probably not, as the 360 package is enterprise-level, so it will most likely come at a hefty price tag.

However, it’s fair to say that it’s a big move from Google, shifting their positioning from analytics to digital marketing platform provider. Anything that reignites the analytics discussion is a good one…well, to me anyway!

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