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The votes are in — for what Google’s new Analytics 360 Suite really means
We tallied up responses from a variety of practitioners and observers about how the tech giant’s new platform of products could impact marketers.
“It’s like an earthquake that was predicted.”
He’s one of a number of marketing and ad professionals and analysts we pinged for their reactions to the new Suite, which contains four new products — site tester Optimize 360, data analyzer/visualizer Data Studio 360, Tag Manager 360, and Google’s first data management platform (DMP), Audience Center 360 — plus two relaunched ones — Attribution 360 (formerly Adometry) and Analytics 360 (formerly Google Analytics Premium).
Frank noted that the long-rumored DMP Audience Center 360 “was hardly a secret.” Forrester Research analyst Tina Moffett pointed out that a rebuilt version of Google’s 2014 acquisition, Adometry, was “not a surprise.”
In fact, IDC Research Manager Gerry Murray suggested via email that “the only surprise here is how long it has taken the world’s largest ad network to deliver more analytic capabilities to marketers.”
For Mike Jacobs, Managing Partner for Media at marketing agency Proper Villains, this announcement means the tech giant is finally following up with a “robust solution for data-driven marketers” after the launch years ago of its free Google Analytics.
But the new analytics, data and measurement Suite, he said, still leaves Google “behind the market when it comes to supporting omni-channel.”
The company “could provide full campaign management, content management, [and] collaboration for marketers,” he added, which would “greatly enhance the behavior data it has on all buyers and sellers.”
“Not challenging the marketing clouds”
His comment highlights that the new Suite is not another Marketing Cloud, such as those from Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce and others. It is an integrated set of data-based tools that correspond to some of the data/analytics layers in those clouds. But it does not have any substantial marketing implementation tools, like social media management, web site experience management or email marketing.
Forrester’s Moffett said flatly that the new Suite is “not challenging the marketing clouds” because, for instance, it does not support management of marketing campaigns beyond ads. But Google “has data marketers want,” she noted, and it is now providing more tools with access via simplified controls. It can’t be ignored, of course, that this Suite also gives Google an integrated stack to wield against its biggest competitor for valuable user data, Facebook.
Even though it’s not a marketing cloud, the Suite could represent another step in the long march toward the full integration of adtech and martech.
“There will be a welcome opportunity among marketers,” Forrester analyst Rusty Warner told me via email, “for Google to provide an intelligence layer that bridges martech and adtech to provide a more complete picture of behavior and interactions across the customer life cycle.”
“Marketers,” he said, “want to understand the customer journey across the entire customer life cycle. It’s no longer good enough to apply adtech to acquisition and then address the customer separately with martech for retention, up-sell, cross-sell, etc.”
One of the drivers of this intelligence layer, he suggested, could be Google’s new Attribution 360, the reworked version of its Adometry acquisition.
“Cross-channel attribution engines from the adtech side are more sophisticated than marketing performance management from the martech side (which focuses on direct response marketing campaigns),” he emailed. “As attribution and marketing mix modeling tools become more inclusive of both advertising channels and direct marketing channels, marketers will have a more holistic picture of how their entire marketing spend is performing.”
The new DMP
Another possible linchpin between adtech and marketing tech could be Google’s new DMP, Audience Center 360. Warner pointed out that the Adobe and Oracle marketing clouds have DMPs, while the Salesforce and IBM platforms partner with DMPs — and Google could readily become one of those partners.
Sean Brady, President of the Americas at marketing cloud Emarsys, noted that the expansion of Google into DMPs puts the company “side-by-side with other enterprise platforms such as Oracle and Adobe.”
In that group, he said, “it will be interesting to see how Google uses this opportunity to induce more data quality control [into Google Analytics], which has historically been a struggle for that product.” He also pointed out that the new Suite provides an incentive for marketers to upgrade to Google Analytics Premium, now called Google Analytics 360, whose feature set has not been “significantly different compared with the free version.”
Feliks Malts, head of analytics at digital marketer 3Q Digital, emailed that the new Suite could also help move companies up the data ladder, as “a great starting point for brands that aren’t doing a lot with their first-party data.”
For others who are more sophisticated, he said, it can be an add-on but not a replacement for existing tools, “largely because [these Google] tools don’t appear to be oriented toward such essential marketing channels as social or email.” But, he added, this assumes the new stack will be “accessible and affordable to companies that don’t have massive martech budgets.” Pricing has not yet been specified, although Google said the Suite is targeted at enterprises.
Accessibility is essential, Forrester analyst Jennifer Wise contended, because of the “micro-moments” of user engagement across devices that happen within minutes, sometimes seconds.
This requires a full integration of tracking, personalization and tracking, she said, controlled by a user-friendly front end that Google is touting for its new Suite.
“Fox guarding the hen house”
The Suite’s impact may also extend to a greater friendliness at the other end, where ads meet consumers. Andrea McFarling, Director of Marketing at performance-based marketer Adlucent, sees the new Suite as a “big step [toward a] world with fewer but higher quality ads.” She added that integrated products can help brands “better measure the impact that digital is having on sales across channels and reduce wasted ad spend.”
But while Google might be able to increase the quality and usefulness of digital ads, there is also the specter of whether these products could risk brands’ valuable data.
“Marketers, especially enterprise marketers, need to think long and hard about whether to provide access to all of this proprietary data to Google and then let analysis and recommendations come from arguably their largest inventory source,” Global Managing Director Dave Ragals from marketing suite IgnitionOne told me via email. Others have pointed out the potential conflict of using an attribution service from this huge provider of ads.
“This is the fox guarding the hen house,” Ragals added.
Fred Joseph, COO of mobile marketing company S4M, also pointed out that “advertisers with Google still don’t have ownership of their data.”
“Now more than ever,” he said, “advertisers need to be very much aware of what data they are happy to share with Google about their business, and what they want to maintain as their own to avoid sharing their secret marketing decision sauce.”
And Oracle sent us a statement that questions whether Google would be an impartial provider:
“Oracle’s positioning is that we believe marketers should take a best in breed approach to their advertising tech stack that solves a broad array of monetization tactics across channels. We believe that advertisers need to have open platforms that allow for breadth capabilities to serve all ad type products (display, search, social, video, mobile, etc.) as well as ensure agnostic performance and reporting capabilities. We would question how Google would deliver agnostic and multi-channel view given their focus on ‘Search’ at the core of their strategy. We are truly open.”
Peter Hamilion, CEO of mobile marketer Tune, acknowledged that “Google has a different position than Adobe, as not only a technology provider but also an advertising company.”
But, he told me, “we have also seen Google continue to gain trust, by separating their tech and advertising arms. “
Thanks to Ginny Marvin for help in rounding up comments.