Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Google’s Universal Analytics is about giving organisations the complete customer picture by switching the focus from session-based experiences to profiles which centre around the individual, its chief analytics advocate claims.
Speaking at the Google Analytics User Conference in Sydney on 19 June, Google Analytics in-house advocate, Justin Cutroni, outlined the company’s vision to help organisations progress from disparate data sets and digital-only analytics to platforms that utilise in all manner of data sources to understand customer behaviour right across the user journey on and offline.
“We’re living in a world where the purchase path has changed forever,” Cutroni told the audience. To highlight the shift, he pointed to 2012 US survey findings which found 78 per cent of all purchase decisions are made before consumers enter a store, and 42 per cent of retail sales are online or Web-based.
Google’s Universal Analytics aims to transform how marketers interact with their own and external data by bringing together Web, mobile, applications, transactional information, CRM and custom data sets into one analytics platform.
“We want to have that complete picture, where customers are in the middle of the data, rather than have data of visitors or sessions,” Cutroni said. “Data today is all in silos but as marketers, we have to take advantage of all of that information to understand our customers.
“It can be maddening with all these new form factors, new operating systems and can be hard to keep up. But you have to have information accessible via any device because if you don’t, someone else will be doing it.”
Cutroni detailed a range of features Google has either launched or is planning to roll out in its quest to be the all-encompassing data analytics provider. One such example is the Measurement Protocol, a data collection tag that can be embedded into other types of systems, whether they are point-of-sale systems or CRM software, to allow recorded information to be imported into Google Analytics for analysis.
“If you have a logon experience, you can send us the generic user ID and we can use that as we process data, unifying data around those customers,” Cutroni continued. “By doing this, the data can be joined up and organisations can gain a visitor-centric view of the world.
“This is a call to action to marketers to investigate their own value proposition to create these logged on experiences.”
Another feature in the works is Dimension Widening, which joins various custom data recorded by an organisation with Google Analytics, providing further context around that customer, Cutroni said. Examples could be demographic information or purchase history.
“For instance, publishers could import data round actual pages such as their type and value. For ecommerce, you could import product information or SKUs,” Cutroni said. “This can piggyback off user data to give organisations a rich understand of their customers.”
Data collection is one thing, but Google is also eyeing off the need for better reporting tools and is planning to launch user-based segmentation, Cutroni said. Google already offers a remarketing feature and is working on areas such as sequential analysis and broader attribution modelling.
“By having all this strategic data, as marketers we can start to position new products and services for our customers,”Cutroni said. “While all this data may seem superfluous, it can open up a range of possibilities.”