Post by Rich McPharlin, Head of Analytics & Innovation
Google announced on March 15th that it was renaming its Analytics product and releasing several complementary products. The new ‘360 Suite’ will better support digital marketers across the full customer marketing cycle and bring forth some of the missing pieces of the integrated stack that advertisers have been crying out for.
The announcement of Google Analytics 360 is the clearest sign since their acquisition of Adometry in May 2014 that Google is taking the needs of sophisticated & enterprise marketers very seriously. The 360 Suite will now allow Google to play in the integrated marketing stack space that has been heavily dominated by Adobe. While specific details of the technology are still somewhat vague, the naming of each of the six tools very clearly identifies how they will work together.
A FIRST-HAND LOOK
Performics Australia, previously FirstClick Consulting, had the opportunity to travel to Mountain View last June to attend the Google Analytics Summit, an invite-only event (under very heavy NDA), for Certified Partner and Analytics 360 resellers. At the conference, we were able to witness Google’s progress first-hand in developing both the Optimise and Data Studio components. Our team’s reaction to both was exceedingly positive, and we are excited to be able to start speaking with clients about how this technology can support their businesses as it is rolled out over the next few months.
BRINGING the PIECES TOGETHER
Each component of the Google Marketing stack will help clients drive more insights and action from their data while minimizing the technology and resource overhead. Google now has the technology, infrastructure and product to allow advertisers to store all (or almost all) of their marketing data in a single location. This includes:
- Web Analytics
- Audience Data
- Media Buying Data
Advertisers can now use Google’s product suite to:
- Analyze user behavior
- Define user segments
- Develop testing and online personalization strategies
- Buy media against audiences
- Analyze media effectiveness
Marketing Tech Stack 101
Maybe in recent months, you’ve heard the words ‘tech stack’, ‘data stack’, ‘marketing stack’, or ‘integrated stack’ floating around in meetings and hallway conversations (or earlier in this blog post). In a nutshell, enterprise organizations work with many partners ranging from internal departments, external agencies, data providers and media buying platforms. With many potential decision makers and stakeholders in play, point solutions are bought and installed to address a particular challenge, but without the ability to communicate or integrate across all possible stakeholders. As a result, you may find multiple web analytics platforms installed on a site, site-side personalization happening in isolation from marketing personalization and siloed reporting where channels and tactics do not understand their overlap with each other. Furthermore, there will always be some degree of data loss when trying to transfer and integrate these platforms together. Google’s integrated tech stack is a straight forward way to centralize and organize your data and technologies under one roof. Your media buying, site analytics, site personalization, attribution, data management and reporting are built upon a common core, allowing for faster and more comprehensive access to your data.
Google Analytics 360
For now, this is the Google Analytics Premium that advertisers know and love. Not a lot is changing in the short term; however, it does form the center of the other tools. Analytics 360 is, for now, the entry point to the 360 Suite for all your customer and behavioral data.
Google Attribution 360
Attribution 360 will be the part of the 360 Studio product to get advertisers excited. Attribution 360 represents a total rebuild of Adometry (purchased by Google in 2014) and will be responsible for helping advertisers assess the value of their online (and some offline) media touchpoints. Advertisers can onboard external data points to identify correlations between acquisition and media activity like TV or external factors like weather events.
Google Tag Manager 360
We’ve known an enterprise version of Tag Manager 360 has been coming for a while. Expect better workflows, the opportunity to set permissions more granularly and enterprise-grade support from Google or a partner agency. While tag managers may not be the sexiest pieces of tech in the stack, they do represent considerable time savings from advertisers and the ability to decouple IT from the tagging process, i.e. get activity into the market faster.
Google Audience Center 360
Audience Center has been part of the digital rumor mill for some time. A very select group of advertisers have had the opportunity to give the tool a trial (one Telco in Australia) but without the fully functioning other stack components; it has not provided as much value as it will now. Audience Centre 360 is Google’s DMP product (a competitor to BlueKai and Krux), its principal benefit is direct access to all onsite behavioral data via Google Analytics 360, and direct integrations into both DoubleClick Bid Manager (DSP) and now Google Optimise 360. Previously, the lack of ability to integrate GAP or Audience Center directly into a web personalization engine (without the use of Big Query) has been holding it back. We are now able to use the data and segments directly from Audience Center to influence both media buying and onsite look and feel.
By utilizing Google’s DMP, native integration into Google’s media buying and personalization tools is assured. However, Google still needs to build integration with 3rd parties like SiteCore and Optimizely, which will be a sticking point for marketers with existing relationships and no appetite for the ‘full stack’. By working within Google’s universe, advertisers will benefit from high match rates across the suite (i.e. you can identify someone who’s visited your website and seen a display ad) and be able to leverage Google’s rich dataset about the majority of global web users. Additionally, the ability to identify users as the move between devices through the use of a persistent Google ID (Gmail/YouTube/G+ accounts) will mean advertisers will be able to quantify better the value of their mobile investments.
Google Optimise 360
Optimise 360 will allow advertisers to conduct multivariate tests (think of Optimizely or VWO) and access user data from Google Analytics 360 and Audience Center 360 to customize their users web experience and move closer to one-on-one communication.
Google Optimise is one of the stand-out parts of the 360 Suite tools set. Site side personalization is one of the key value propositions of building an integrated tech stack and primary use cases for installing a DMP. This missing key limited the impact of Google’s tech stack so everyone in the industry ‘knew’ Optimise 360 was coming, they just weren’t quite sure of its touchdown date.
Google Data Studio 360
Google Data Studio 360 feels like a very long name for a very awesome product if you want to get an understanding of what it might look like – picture Tableau, in the cloud, directly connected to all your marketing data. We are not suggesting at this stage that Google Data Studio 360 will replace Tableau or Qlik as the data visualization tool of choice for enterprises (that would require onboarding of a significant amount of additional data). We do believe this will be a powerful tool to report, visualize and communicate your marketing performance to all levels of the organization, and Data Studio might just help contextualize data for C-Suiters who’ve not yet boarded the digi-bandwagon. Google’s core mission has always been to organize information, first through search and now by supporting marketers by simplifying the access and analysis of their data. For marketers who adopt some or all of the Google technology and data ingestion, modelling and visualization should become much easier than attempting to join datasets in 3rd party platforms.
If you are an existing Adometry or Google Analytics Premium customer, you’ll see some rebranding and some minor feature release shortly with full rollout over the next few months. Beta invitations will be available to advertisers on a basis to be dictated by Google (i.e. if you’ll support with a case study and/or are a significant media client) for the four beta products:
- Data Studio 360
- Tag Manager 360
- Audience Center 360
- Optimise 360
These will become more openly available as time passes, with some of the tools slated for general release in Q2 2016 and other tools becoming available by EOY 2016.
The first thing to note with the 360 Suite: these are paid tools. While advertisers will always be able to access Google Analytics & Tag Manager, without cost, these advanced and integrated tools will come with some financial commitment.
Google Analytics 360 starts from US$150,000 per year, the other tools don’t have published costs yet; however, early indications show cost models might be:
- Audience Center 360 – Cost Per Cookie/Period + Setup
- Data Studio 360 – Cost of Data Storage + Computing Resources
- Tag Manager 360 – Annual License Fee (perhaps with per-user or per-tag model)
- Optimise 360 – Page view based licensing (assuming Audience Center 360 is installed and already covering data costs)
Enterprise analytic and data management software like the 360 suite does not suit everyone. There is a considerable cost just to utilize the technology, and the 360 suite is not a magic box that’ll run itself. To derive value from that investment, organizations will require a focused team who can make sense of and action the data.
Organizations can opt to deploy an in-house model or work with partners, like Performics, to make use of Google’s technology. Without a serious commitment to becoming data-led marketers, there may be other, more effective ways to invest the six-figure sum. As a minimum, we’d expect businesses considering the 360 Suite (or any other technology stack) to have already either an internal marketing analytics function or a partnership with an agency with a dedication to actioning the reams of data that the tools will make available. We’ve seen the most effective activations of these tech-stacks happen when the organization goes so far as to establish dedicated cross-functional departments or teams focused specifically on the strategy and activation of the integrated tech stack. In other words, an investment into this suite without the necessary and dedicated people will leave marketers with an expensive toy that’ll grow dusty on the shelf.
Google’s development of a full stack product was virtually inevitable. Adobe was a first mover in this space and has already proven the value proposition in building an integrated tech stack. Oracle has recently made several acquisitions which support the hypothesis of their entry as well. Facebook is a fourth power player to look out for down the line as their acquisition of Atlas shows similarity to Google’s path.
With Google already operating one of the largest open ad exchanges (AdX) and Google’s DoubleClick holding a significant market share in the ad serving market, advertisers do need to question just how much of their proprietary data they are comfortable sharing with the tech giant. Some of the world’s advertising behemoths have already drawn the line that they will not utilize any Google technology outside of what is a required function in the digital age (i.e. AdWords + AdX). However, as the ad-tech and mar-tech industries go through an acquisition and consolidation phase, advertisers will be gradually pushed to form relationships with one of the powerhouses (Google/Facebook/Adobe/Oracle) to maintain efficiency and effectiveness. It would lead to greater advertiser confidence if the tech companies did not also own the media that they supported the advertisers in buying; as the horse has bolted, transparency and caution will need to replace the division of roles.