2014 GA Partner Summit Review

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I got back to Charlotte early Friday morning and while I love San Francisco, I am glad to be home. With a new baby at home, even short travel can seem long. That being said, the Google Analytics Partner Summit this year was first class as usual. It was hosted at the intercontinental hotel in downtown San Francisco.

GA Summit 2014

Overall the theme to this year’s GA summit seemed to be two-fold. First is Attribution, Attribution, Attribution. If there was a word cloud for the entire summit, this word would by far be the largest word in the stack. The second largest theme was the acquisition of adometry and the overall move by Google to push GA to be a much more sophisticated analytics platform. But this wasn’t without an important “gotcha” in my opinion. Almost all of these features would be tied exclusively to their Premium and what sounded in some cases like a super-Premium offering that hardly any of the partner community appeared to even be involved with. My guess is they are moving to service some of the largest enterprise brands in the world. Your Coca Cola’s and your General Motors for example and are shifting over large investment to push forward in this direction.

A slightly less but still important theme was integration. There were several talking points around this including dimension widening, aka custom data imports, and the use of UserID. Strangely enough though, it would seem that the most exciting feature or usage of these systems was missing. There was a noticeable lack of discussion of connecting retail revenue and call center revenue back to originating website sessions. If I had to guess as to why, it would be because of Adometry. Google bought the most sophisticated attribution company available where they make a lot of these connections between users through the use of highly sophisticated external datasets that probably cost a fortune to gain access to. I think Google is in the middle of trying to figure out how much they want to do with their standard version of GA versus a super-sophisticated version that either integrates with Adometry or uses some of the same methods. Both of which I do not expect to be easily available to the general GA user.

Other points of integration included more DFA feature integrations, Adsense for publishers updates, and there was even a hint that the future direction is to figure out how to tie in TV and radio ad spend into the attribution mix. Again, I think the TV/Radio channel integration is some of the stuff Adometry is tackling and it got the MCF product managers excited to see what a leader in attribution is doing. How likely this functionality is to show up in the standard GA account in the next 2 years is very unlikely at best. If anything, you can’t say they aren’t forward-looking.

The conference also had a much less “Google” feel to it this year when compared historically. The presenters did an amazing job as usual. Justin Cutroni took a much larger role at the summit and did a great Job hosting the event. It was great to see someone who started in the Partner program taking such a large lead at the conference. There were many more premium clients this year and there was also the noticeable lack of Avanish for the first time since I’ve been going back in 2007. The overall discussion seemed to shift from previous years of being a partner focused event towards being a product and client focused event, largely due to the increased attendance of the premium clients. There was a lot of discussion around future product releases, again with most being associated with Premium accounts.

Justin did have a session towards Core Analysis Techniques and while there was some great case results, I found them to be lacking on the explanation side. For one of his examples he gave a challenge and then went on to say they got a 1300% increase due to GA without really diving into what the 1300% was or how they got there. I felt it left more questions than answers and would like to have dove deeper into the guts of the case study. I know there was short timeframes for presentations but I missed the smaller and highly focused workshop style presentations of year’s past where we could hone in on specific challenges the community was faced with.

Overall, it was another exciting year for the GA summit. There was a lot of new feature announcements and it was a great opportunity to learn from the product managers about the analytics challenges they are facing and how their solutions will eventually make their way into the product. Another item that I felt was revealed was the future direction and how Google seems to be aligning themselves with the enterprise more so than the small business. How this will unfold in terms of impact on the standard version of GA and it’s features/functions versus what is available in Premium or even Adometry remains to be seen but from my interpretations, it would seem the standard version doesn’t seem to be the priority anymore. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad product by any means, just that their focus has shifted. I’ll continue to look forward to some of these future features rolling out and keep my fingers crossed some of them will roll down to the standard or free version.

I do think this opens up opportunity to the GA Partners though. If Google’s focus is on building cool new enterprise features and functionalities outside the price range of the small or medium business, that will leave a gap in the market for more cost effective solutions…. Such as GAFUSION….