If you’re managing a website with increasing website traffic, the day will inevitably come when you ask yourself the question: “Should we switch to Google Analytics 360?” A quick search and you’ll find the features that supposedly make it worth the $150K/year price tag:
- Unsampled reports & increased hit limits
- Advanced analysis including custom funnels
- Google BigQuery export
- Data-driven attribution
- 200 custom dimensions
ROI of Google Analytics 360
As a data-driven company, you know that it all comes down to ROI. How much EXTRA revenue do you need to generate as a result of your advanced analytics capabilities in order to break even on the investment? Given the assumptions below, you’d need to bring in an extra €27,000 every month in order to justify the license fee (this will vary depending on your profit margin):
The GA 360 license fee works out to approximately €11,000 / month
Ignoring management cost to only focus on the incremental cost of the license
Assuming a profit margin of 40% (enter your own value here)
You’ll quickly realise that you won’t recover an additional €27,500 every month with unsampled data alone. In order to see the value on the bottom line, you need to pivot your view of Google Analytics as solely a reporting tool.
The power of Google Analytics 360 comes from leveraging the insights generated to design multi-channel customer activation journeys. This can be done by integrating with the Google Marketing Platform. At this point, it is no longer just a question about which platform to use, but whether you have the people and processes in place to make this happen.
But what if we told you that you could get some of these sweet, sweet features for free? Keep reading to find out how.
What is Google Analytics App + Web?
(… and what does it have to do with Google Analytics 360?)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you’ve probably seen news about the new Google Analytics App + Web property come by. Maybe you thought to yourself “cool, but I don’t have an app so that’s not really relevant for me.” And that’s where you’re wrong (don’t worry – you're not alone).
Despite the name, Google Analytics App + Web is not simply a way of combining Google Analytics for Firebase with Universal Analytics for Web. This new property type uses a completely new data model that assumes websites are nothing more than web apps. And now the people over at Google really want you to start familiarising yourself with this new data model. So much so that they’re handing out a bunch of GA360 features for free.
You’ll be elated to see that you now have access to Advanced Analysis, BigQuery integration and that your data is no longer being sampled in the App + Web property - all of which was previously limited to Google Analytics 360 customers. Plus, if you do have an app, you will of course benefit from the more consistent cross-platform reporting.
However, the largest difference is in how the data is structured. Whereas we’re used to thinking of our website traffic in sessions and pageviews, the new model focusses on users and events. In this setup, an event consists of an event name and up to 25 custom parameters – nothing more, nothing less. Not being restricted to the old Event Category, Action, and Label fields gives you a lot of flexibility, but it will certainly take some time getting used to ‘pageview’ events with ‘page title’, ‘page location’ etc. as event parameters instead of the old hit-level dimensions.
Why you need to start using Google Analytics App + Web right now
If you’re reading this article, chances are the free GA360 features may already be enough to encourage you to give it a try. However, you might still be wondering why we’re so adamant about you getting started with a feature that is still in beta.
Even though it is still in beta – and definitely not ready to replace Universal Analytics yet – it gives a clear indication of where Google Analytics is headed. If you’re already familiar with Firebase, you have a head start, but if you’re only using Google Analytics for web, there will be quite a learning curve. So, the more time you have to start experimenting, the easier it will be for you when this new data model becomes the new normal.
And it’s not a question of whether, but when Google Analytics App + Web will replace Universal Analytics.
Still not convinced? Try remembering the pain you experienced when migrating from Classic to Universal Analytics? Wouldn’t it have been nice to run the 2 versions in parallel so that you could familiarize yourself with the new setup without replacing your entire tracking setup at once? Now is your chance to do exactly that! Set up a new App + Web property & run it in parallel to your Universal setup. That way, you’ll still be tracking all the data you need, while exploring all the new possibilities.
For the advanced Google Analytics users out there, there is more exciting news. Besides adding BigQuery export controls within the Google Analytics UI (currently only available via the Firebase console), Brian Stark – Product Manager at Google – leaked information at the 2020 Emerce Google Analytics User Conference that they’re currently working on the Reporting API for App + Web. Another hint that App + Web is the future.
What’s Next? - App + Web Analytics
We can’t put it better than Steen Rasmussen from IIH Nordic did at the Emerce GAUC event:
“If all you have is the standard Universal Analytics implementation, your house is on fire. Go home and set up a 2nd parallel implementation using GA App + Web – GODDAMMIT!”
Besides the technical setup, the first thing you will need is a new data strategy. The biggest change for web users is the switch from a focus on Sessions + Pageviews to an Event + Parameter model.
With event-based tracking, you can measure virtually anything, but that doesn’t mean you should. A clearly defined data-strategy will help you structure your data in a way that you be able to draw insightful conclusions rather than cluttering your reports with inconsistent events.
“What about my existing tracking plan?” - I hear you ask. If you have a well-documented tracking plan, we encourage you to use it as input in order to decide what needs to be tracked in your new property. However, trying to force your event categories, actions and labels into the new parameter setup is like switching from a car to a helicopter but still wanting to drive it on the road.
If you’re struggling to wrap your head around the event + parameter setup and where to find your data in the new reports, we’ve got you covered. We are happy to help you discover the things we’re loving about the new App + Web property:
- Tracking meaningful data & conversions
- Using the new audience builder to create even more specific audiences
- Setting up advanced analyses to get insights tailored to your business needs
Make your data dance
Some of us will experience a steep learning curve with the new Google Analytics App + Web Property. We also shouldn’t forget that it is still in beta and there are several limitations, such as the absence of views/filters, missing integrations, and a somewhat incomplete selection of reports.
However, endless possibilities are opening up by creating a tighter connection between Google Analytics and Firebase. For instance, you could use the Firebase interface to
- Send highly relevant in-browser messages to specific audiences
- Set up A/B tests
- Use authentication to allow visitors to log in with their Google Account – User IDs have never been easier to set up.
So, stop waiting around until you’re forced to migrate. Start setting up App + Web today and create a competitive advantage for yourself by exploring all these new possibilities.
Have you started playing around with App + Web already? We’d love to hear your experiences and questions about what can only be described as the biggest change in Google Analytics since Universal Analytics.