Google’s VP of Search Ads, Jerry Dischler, and their Senior Director of Measurement and Analytics, Babak Pahlavan, hosted a discussion at SMX East earlier this month in which they discussed various upcoming changes to the Google Analytics suite of products. These announcements were later clarified further on the Google Analytics blog. The announcements included a variety of new features being added to Google Analytics and Tag Manager, and also news of the gradual rollout of the rest of the 360 Suite.


Google Optimize Announced

The most eye-catching announcement was that a newly-announced free version of Optimize 360 is gradually being launched globally. Optimize 360 is Google’s enterprise-level AB testing and multivariate testing product, and has been gradually unveiled since it was announced as part of the new Analytics 360 Suite back in March. The free version will offer reduced numbers of available experiments and slightly blunter goals & targets for the tests, but will be based on the same technology and will offer the same impressive level of integration with the main Google Analytics product as the enterprise version. It looks like it will be a really easy-to-use tool for optimisation and personalisation, and the potential integrations with Google Analytics audiences will be invaluable.


Data Studio Global Rollout

Data Studio, the free version of Google’s data visualisation and reporting platform, is now available in Australia (and around the world). It will also come with an increased number of out-of-the-box reporting templates that will help users display their Analytics, AdWords and third-party data in more visually appealing ways.


Tag Manager Updates & Improvements

As part of their rollout of Optimise 360, Google has updated the standard Google Tag Manager container code. It has now been split into two sections – a JS snippet to be placed at the top of the <head> section of the page, and an iframe snippet to be placed down in the <body> section.

Previously, the best practice for Google Tag Manager implementation was to place the whole container in the body of the page. This occasionally led to performance issues when running A-B tests – as the tags didn’t load immediately on the loading of the page, it was common to see the original version of the page for a split second before seeing the correct version of the page. The new snippet should remove these worries.

Another addition to Tag Manager is a large number of newly-available default data sources. These include Bing, Twitter, LinkedIn and a variety of AB testing and user interaction monitoring platforms, such as AB Tasty and Hotjar. These will be welcome to anyone who has been dealing with a large amount of custom HTML tagging when implementing these kinds of tools.



Session Quality Score

There was also a new feature announced for the basic Google Analytics product. A new metric called ‘Session Quality Score’ will be rolled out across various reports in Google Analytics. This technology was previously used to underpin ‘Smart Goals’, a feature of Google Analytics that made it clear which users were regarded by Google as the most likely to convert or make a purchase. Being able to see this data in more ways than simply as goal conversions will be invaluable to analysts looking to model the behaviour of their most valuable customers.


User Interface Updates

Pitch 2

Along with all this, Google have also just announced a refresh of the slightly-tired-looking Google Analytics UI, which will be gradually showing up in accounts over the next few weeks. The previous top navigation bar has been completely removed and combined with the vertical navigation, and all user assets (custom reports, dashboards, alerts and shortcuts) have been brought into one section. Intelligence alerts have been removed, ready for the release of the bigger-and-better Google Analytics Assistant, which will be rolling out in the near future.

These updates won’t increase the functionality of the platform, but will hopefully make it a lot less daunting for non-technical people to go into a Google Analytics account and be able to come out with the data they want.

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Toby Shaw

I am Reprise's Associate Director in Analytics. I've spent the last 7+ years working in data science & analysis for the digital marketing industry in both London and Australia. Here at Reprise I work with some of the country's leading brands, helping them make the most of their digital data.