Google Analytics is the market-leading analytics platform and it meets the needs of most of our clients.
However, some of our larger clients need an enterprise-level solution that meets their more complex needs. These are companies generating significant revenues from marketing, often in multiple countries or via multiple brands.
For these more sophisticated marketers, the Google Marketing Platform is increasingly the solution of choice. The Google Marketing Platform offers a powerful and integrated analytics solution, Google Analytics 360, which is used by many of the world’s biggest enterprises.
For companies looking to upgrade, the great news is that the migration path from Google Analytics to Google Analytics 360 is straightforward: you continue to use the same tracking code, the same familiar interface and the same reports that you’ve already created. But you have access to all the other benefits of 360, making for a seamless transition.
As one of a select few official Google Analytics 360 Sales Partners, we are often asked whether or not we would recommend upgrading to Analytics 360. While the answer varies depending on our client’s marketing goals, from our experience these are the top five reasons to upgrade.
1. Enhanced functionality
Increased data freshness
More hits means capturing more data, much more data than the free version allows. If you’re making decisions on your marketing spend daily, getting access to fresh data is crucial.
Standard Google Analytics can take up to two days to process all your hit data and make it available to you, whereas with Google Analytics 360 there is a service level agreement that data is guaranteed to be available within four hours 99% of the time.
However, speed goes well beyond this and Google attempts to process most data within 10-15 minutes on a ‘best effort’ basis. Whilst this is not a written SLA, their ‘best effort’ is pretty good, as most of the time when we look at the data, it’s at this level of freshness.
Unsampled reports and greater data accuracy
In standard Google Analytics, reports that include segments, custom dimensions or metrics or non-standard reports will have sampling applied if there are more than 500,000 sessions in the property within its date range. Google Analytics 360 increase the level at which this sampling applies to 100 million sessions at the view level. If this still isn’t good enough you have the option to access the fully unsampled report.
Again, this will increase the accuracy of your reports, and ensure you’re making decisions based on all your data, not just a sample.
An enterprise level of custom dimensions, custom metrics, calculated metrics and audiences
Google Analytics 360 allows many more custom dimensions, metrics and audiences in comparison to standard Google Analytics. This provides the ability to customise the implementation that large enterprises need.
These custom fields can be used to capture information about sessions, users, products or individual hits on your website. For example, you could capture CRM data about users, such as their gender, age group or order history.
On products, you could include the cost price to perform analysis on profit margins or the product type as a custom dimension.
These dimensions and metrics can greatly enhance your reporting and ability to create specific audiences in Google Analytics.
With Google Analytics 360, you now get up to 200 audiences to play with, which is very beneficial if you are to make the most of the integrations with Search Ads 360, Optimize 360 and Google Ads.
If you can see the benefit of increasing these limits from 20 to 200, then you are ready to look at upgrading to Google Analytics 360.
Advanced analysis is a tool that was recently released in beta and offers detailed analysis techniques to help you understand how people interact with your website. The three techniques within this tool are Exploration, Funnel Analysis and Segment Overlap. You can build audiences with learnings from these methods, ensuring that you immediately capitalise on your findings.
Custom Funnels is a feature which shows how customers are completing actions on your website. These insights can help you to improve your site and reduce the amount of abandoned customer journeys. Where customers are dropping off, you can create Remarketing Audiences to re-engage with these users, to ensure you maximise every opportunity.
Another tool worth highlighting is the query time data upload function. You can upload a ‘processing time’ data upload with the standard version of Google Analytics, however, the 360 version means that you can produce a set of data to load and ‘join’ to existing data on some common key such as a user ID. This data can then be applied retrospectively to historic data which adds a whole new level of opportunity. For example, you could define a user file from your CRM with key segmentations and dimensions and then use this to analyse historic CRM based segments in Google Analytics or create audiences to remarket to in Search Ads 360 or Google Ads.
Google Analytics 360 includes many key integrations, bringing with them significantly more power and insight than the standard version.
Part of the Google Marketing Platform
Being part of the Google Marketing Platform allows Google Analytics 360 to join seamlessly with Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360 (formerly DoubleClick products, read about the re-brand here). This brings all your click and impression data as well as the many Search Ads 360 dimensions into Google Analytics.
This means your attribution models can include impressions, and allows you to attribute partial credit to ads which customers have seen, but not necessarily clicked on.
Going in the other direction, the integration also allows ads in Search Ads 360 to be targeted at audiences defined in Analytics, using all the data you’ve collected in the platform.
For example, if you have data from your CRM solution in custom dimensions, you could create a target audience of “high value customers that haven’t purchased in the last month”.
The key benefit here is that the audiences can be based on a combination of your Search Ads 360 and Analytics data, which, when combined with custom data from other systems, makes it very powerful.
Data from Google Analytics 360 can be easily integrated with Google’s big data platform, BigQuery. All your unsampled hit-level data can be quickly and easily streamed into BigQuery with the near real-time freshness of the web interface.
BigQuery is a powerful solution for interrogating, sorting and analysing very large volumes of data very quickly. The possibilities for using your data once in BigQuery are limited only by your imagination as you can join this data with other data sources or apply advanced analysis and data science techniques.
The Data Studio visualisation tool, which also connects directly to BigQuery, makes it quick and easy to create custom reports and dashboards to help understand and share your data with the various stakeholders in your organisation.
3. Data-Driven attribution
Attribution is a huge topic and one key feature of Google Analytics 360 is its Data-Driven Attribution model.
This attribution model takes all the channels you have into consideration, including impression data from Search Ads 360. The model then uses an algorithm to determine how much credit should be given to each channel for the each of the conversions and sales generated through your website.
It creates a weighted model for each channel, depending on its position in the conversion funnel.
You can then use this data to influence your marketing spend, identifying areas where you could generate more conversions with further investment and vice-versa.
4. Hit volume
Google’s terms and conditions stipulate a maximum of 10 million hits per month, per property (website), on the free version of Analytics. Above this limit and you are technically in breach of these terms and Google will eventually ask you to upgrade or cease from sending that volume of hits.
With Google Analytics 360, monthly hit limits are increased to 2 billion hits per property.
Although you won’t lose access to Analytics immediately if you exceed the 10 million hit limit, Google might stop processing your data and revoke access after a warning. See this page on Google’s website for more information.
If you’re not sure how many hits per month your website is generating, you can see a summary in the Admin section of the Analytics interface under your Property, as shown below.
If you find you’re getting close to or already over 10 million hits, it is a sign that you’re ready to upgrade.
5. Service level agreement and technical support
SLA, implementation and training
The standard version of Analytics is extremely reliable, but it doesn’t carry any guarantees or service level agreements.
One of the key reasons our clients choose to upgrade to Google Analytics 360 is the reassurance given by the underlying service level agreement (SLA) and technical support that comes with the product.
Google Analytics 360 ensures your data is available within four hours 98% of the time and carries a 99% SLA for data collection and reporting.
You’ll also have backing from a team of technical experts to provide support should it be needed, and a rapid response time in the unlikely event of any issues.
Purchasing Google Analytics 360 from an official sales partner, you will typically have a fully scoped implementation plan, access to training and support to ensure the account is configured correctly.
Once the initial implementation has been completed, you will receive on-going analysis and reports, with insights which can help you make key business decisions for your digital strategy.
This is a critical aspect of any large analytics installation, and another benefit of purchasing an enterprise analytics platform, as the associated technical expertise ensures you get the most out of your investment.
The standard Google Analytics tool is a great, free platform, and will continue to be the market-leading solution for many organisations for the foreseeable future.
However, Google Analytics 360 has a lot to offer larger organisations with high volume sites, complex analysis and attribution requirements, or simply require the flexibility of an integrated solution for tracking, analysing, optimising and reporting on their digital marketing strategy.