The Google Marketing Cloud isn't here yet. But it seems to be getting close.

The Mountain View, Calif. search giant this week beefed up the premium version of its analytics platform with Google Analytics 360 Suite, a set of integrated data and marketing analytics products. Google Analytics 360 was formerly known as Google Analytics Premium.

Complementing the Google tools digital marketers already use, such as AdWords and DoubleClick, it's a family of six products under the analytics suite.

Two of them are rebranded versions of existing products: GA Premium and Adometry (now called Google Attribution 360). The other four are completely new and are in beta: Google Audience Center, Google Optimize 360, Google Data Studio and Google Tag Manager.

Paul Muret, vice president of Analytics, Display and Video Products for Google, described the new platform in a blog as a "powerful set of products" that are "unified, providing a consistent user experience and cross product data integrations, plus services."

"Simply put," he added, "it’s a complete measurement platform."

Gunning for Adobe?

R Ray Wang

But is it enough to push Google into the marketing cloud sphere?

"Not yet," said R Ray Wang, principal analyst and co-founder of Constellation Research. "While marketers use many of these tools, not everyone uses them in aggregate. That will happen over time."

Rather, Wang called the release of Google Analytics 360 Google's "direct response" to the rise of Adobe’s analytics and marketing cloud capabilities.

Adobe has the largest number of enterprise web analytics clients, according to Forrester Research. In fact, it “dominates.”

Adobe is certainly aware of Google's presence. At last year's Adobe Digital Marketing Summit, Jeff Allen, Adobe's director of product marketing for Adobe Analytics, told CMSWire marketers must convince executives of the need to invest into a platform like Adobe's because of Google's free offering, Google Analytics.

What Google can't match, he said, is the power of the Adobe Marketing Cloud and its analytics integration. Adobe last year packaged SiteCatalyst with Discover, Genesis, Data Warehouse, Report Builder, Dynamic Tag Management and Insight into a combined Adobe Analytics Premium offering, a component of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

"It flows right into integrations," he told CMSWire. "That sort of connective tissue with Adobe Analytics, being citizens of the marketing cloud, and its tie-in from insight to action is critical."

A Google spokesperson said today the company does not comment on competitors.

Perhaps more than beating Adobe, Google wants to monetize its insights in programmatic and campaign, Wang said.

"This offering is about measuring engagement and campaign effectiveness," Wang added.

"It builds upon and expands on the services. AdWords and DoubleClick come together, and you get tag management, multi-screen analytics, sales attribution, real time data visualization. Google has been testing the service internally, and it’s taken awhile to harmonize all the different projects, acquisitions and teams."

According to a Google spokesperson, Google Analytics Premium (now 360) licenses for about $150,000 per year. This brings users into the 360 suite, and they'll pay a range along that number for other products within the suite.

Gartner's Analytics Leaders

Wang's "Google versus Adobe" assertion is spot on, if you look to one industry analyst report. Gartner, in its first Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics last fall, named Adobe, SAS and Google as "leaders." IBM was recognized as a "challenger" — even though IBM sees itself as the clear leader.

AOL, comScore and MarketShare were tabbed as "visionaries," and Visual IQ, Webtrends, OptiMine Software, AgilOne and Pitney Bowes were cited as "niche players."

Gartner researchers gave Adobe high marks for mobile and video capabilities, media attribution, anomaly detection and noted Adobe “set the standard for actionable analysis of audience trends and behaviors across channels and applications.”

Gartner report authors said Google Analytics Premium (now 360) lacks segment discovery and predictive modeling but offers a “highly intuitive and flexible platform, a global user community and available professional services.”

google analytics 360 screenshot

SAS is known for its advanced modeling capabilities, data collection, ingestion, exploratory analysis and modeling, simulation testing and optimization, decisioning and measurement, according to Gartner.

“Adobe and Google are leading the charge to combine marketing and media measurement,” Gartner analyst Martin Kihn told us last fall. “Google Analytics (free version) is the most widely used platform, and its Premium product is gaining traction among enterprises. And its acquisition of Adometry signaled a commitment to building out its media analytics component."

Bridging Gaps

rusty warner headshot

Learning Opportunities

Rusty Warner, Forrester Research principal analyst serving B2C marketing professionals, said no single vendor can provide 100 percent of a marketing organization's requirements.

"Instead, marketers are assembling marketing technology ecosystems with components from multiple vendors. They do want to reduce the number of vendor relationships, they are looking for strategic vendor partnerships, and they will choose marketing cloud vendors that can offer them multiple components. However, they all also looking for ease-of-integration, as they incorporate best-of-breed components from other players."

Marketers want customer data management and analytics that enable them to understand the customer across the entire lifecycle, Warner said.

"In the past, we've applied AdTech to acquisition and then we've handed off to MarTech for CRM, retention, up- and cross-sell," he said. "Marketers are now bringing those two worlds together."

Adobe and Oracle, he noted, added data management platforms (DMPs). Adobe has also added a demand-side platforms (DSPs). Salesforce leverages its Advertising Studio to define audiences for social media ads and partners with DMPs. IBM partners with DMPs and introduced its Universal Behavior Exchange. SAP has a similar strategy with Hybris Marketing and Hybris Profile.

"The marketing clouds are trying to help marketers bridge the gap between direct response marketing and digital advertising, and those efforts have started at the data layer," Warner said.

Where Can Google Help?

Can Google give marketers what they want?

Cross-channel attribution engines from the AdTech side (including Google's Adometry, now Attribution 360) are more sophisticated than marketing performance management from the MarTech side (which focuses on direct response marketing campaigns).

"As attribution and marketing mix modeling tools evolve to include both advertising channels and direct marketing channels," Warner said, "marketers will have much greater visibility into how their marketing activities are performing."

Google's announcement will be welcome news among marketers that want to leverage data and analytics across the customer lifecycle to refine both their direct response marketing and digital advertising strategies.

"If Google can also provide measurement and optimization capabilities that span investments across both spending categories, even better," Warner said. "I talk to customers who are using marketing tools from Adobe, Google, IBM, Oracle, SAP and others. What they really want is someone to help them assemble an enterprise marketing technology ecosystem that can leverage data and insights to make their interactions with customers more contextually relevant."

Google: We've Got This

paul muret headshot

Muret in his Google blog post said many existing analytics toolsets fall short of marketers' expectations.

"They're too hard to use, lack sufficient collaboration capabilities, are poorly integrated and require hard-to-find expertise," he said.

"Several years ago, Google engineers set out to simplify marketing analytics in the same way we simplified web search with," he said.

"With infrastructure that allows us to handle billions and billions of daily search queries — generating answers before users even finish typing — we set out to give enterprise marketers the same utility. ... This is just the beginning of our ongoing innovation in enterprise marketing analytics."

The new products — Audience Center 360, Optimize 360, Data Studio 360 and Tag Manager 360 — are available today in limited beta. Google Analytics Premium or Adometry customers will see the products officially renamed in the coming months.

Title image "Google sign" (CC BY 2.0) by tshein

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