Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Making a decision to upgrade to an enterprise-level analytics software is a big one. Apart from over $100,000 per year cost of the software, this decision determine where your Digital Marketing Stack goes in the future. Trust me, it's better to pick the right tool from the start as migrating between the two requires considerable time and resources, never mind potentially loosing some of you data. As we work with both tools daily, we've put together a list of things to consider before you pick the right analytics tool for your business.
Table of Contents:
Do you Need an Enterprise-Grade Analytics Solution yet?
Questions below will help you decide if you need to invest in an enterprise-grade analytics.
Is the data you work with sampled? If the data you pull often includes around 500K Sessions (less for some reports), chances are your data is sampled. As a rule of thumb, if the amount of Sessions on your website gets to over 100K+ sessions a month chances are you get sampled data pretty often. Sampled data means that decisions you make are based on a subset of your data (sample).
You need to have a wholistic view of Consumer Journey to purchase and ways to attribute cross-channel performance and generate efficiencies.
Privacy Concerns - you need a 100% guarantee that you fully own your data.
Your analytics needs require you to move fast & scale your analysis as needed.
You feel constrained by what free analytics software has to offer and your business needs a custom solution to track on-site performance.
In case most of the points above don't apply to your business yet, chances are you are better of with the free version of Google Analytics for now. However, if at least some of the points above apply to your business, you should consider shifting to Google Analytics 360 (GA360) or Adobe Analytics.
What Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics Have in Common?
First, let's go over some of the things the two tools have in common.
1. Integration with the respective marketing stack.
Both GA360 and Adobe Analytics integrate with their own marketing platforms. Google Analytics integrates with Google Marketing Platform, which includes Campaign Manager 360, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, and Google Optimize. This stack is largely focused around website optimization and Digital Media and relies on external tools for CRM and Social Media Ads management. However, as a native tool from Google, GA360 gives you benefits for Organic Search and SEO such as integration with Google Search Console where most of your SEO data comes from. Adobe Analytics: integrates with tools inside Adobe Experience Cloud, which include Audience Manager, Adobe Campaign, Adobe Target (enterprise CRO tool), Adobe Experience Manager. One of the disadvantages with Adobe Analytics is that it relies on multiple moving pieces such as URL parameters for some crucial pieces of data. For example, if a parameter in your URL has a mistake Paid Search traffic easily becomes Organic Search in Adobe Analytics. Historical data can't be changed, so this can potentially impact decision making in the long run. Choose wisely, as migrating from one stack to another will cost substantial amount of money, resources and potentially performance. Winner: Google Analytics offers much better, native integration with Search and Google Ads tools, helping you to keep your data clean.
2. Access to Raw Data
As mentioned earlier, access to raw data is one of the most common reasons why businesses invest in enterprise-grade analytics software. Making big decissions based on 20% sample of your data can be tricky. Both GA360 and Adobe Analytics address this issue by giving you access to raw data in their reports, albeit in a slightly different way.
GA360 Approach - there are two ways to access raw data in Google Analytics 360:
Custom Tables - give you a flexible way to select Dimension, Metrics and filters and to download custom tables. This is a useful approach that can be used for reporting needs.
Unsampled Reports - give you a flexibility of downloading any one of Google Analytics reports, in raw, unsampled format. Remember making decisions based on a subset of data? That will not be the case with Unsampled Reports in GA360.
Advanced Analysis - relatively new functional in Google Analytics. Advanced Analysis adds a much needed capability for quick in-UI analysis of your data.
Adobe Analytics - all data is always unsampled in Adobe Analytics. Combined with the flexibility of Workspaces, this gives you an unparalleled flexibilities inside User Interface in Adobe Analytics. To be fair, raw data in Adobe Analytics is much easier to access compared to GA360. Winner: Adobe Analytics for ability to easiy build custom reports fast. Even though, Advanced Analysis gives similar function for GA360 users, it's still not quiet there yet.
Both tools provide lots of flexibility and customization opportunities in the User Interface, however this is not enough for power users.
Google Analytics allows for additional data collection through Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics. This data can then be exported to Big Query and Visualized through the Google Data Studio.
Adobe Analytics, on the other hand has pretty extensive capabilities for Data Visualization inside the above mentioned Workspaces (that's where you Analysts are likely to spend most of their time daily). Data can also be processed and exported at scale using tokens or through Data Workbench, which is Adobe's version of Big Query (albeit, not as powerful).
Differences between GA360 and Adobe Analytics
Because Google Analytics has a free version (in fact, over 40MM websites use Google Analytics), from my experience most Digital Marketing professionals will be familiar with the tool to certain degree, while more advanced features are more popular within the Analytics Community. As a result, it's much easier to find Specialists to work with GA360. To illustrate better, out of Alexa’s to 10 million websites, 54.7% of websites use Google Analytics for website tracking purposes, while 0.1% relies on Adobe Analytics.
Google Analytics has a market share of 84% compared to 0.1% for Adobe Analytics. It is worth noting that Adobe Analytics customers Market Share increases to 5% for the top 1,000 websites (according to w3techs.com)
Adobe Analytics is an enterprise-level tool and is only accessible by Specialists who work with enterprises. As a result talent is harder to acquire. Winner: GA360 for having a large number of users familiar with the tool.
Google Analytics is considerably easier to implement with a simple piece of code placed on every page of your website via Google Tag Manager and additional Custom Dimensions and Metrics populated as required. This leads to a measurement plan that is much easier to navigate and maintain. Ease of implementation and maintenance for Google Analytics requires smaller resources investment initially and later on in the process. Adobe Analytics, high degree of customization in Adobe Analytics comes with a price. It's much harder to implement Adobe Analytics website tracking, plus it requires additional investment to maintain. With 50 sProps and eVars available per page Adobe Analytics requires an extensive measurement plan which will be hard to navigate for a user not familiar with the tool. Tasks like implementing measurement for new products/services can be harder to execute in Adobe Analytics (especially if it doesn't follow your standard product/service structure), unless properly staffed. This can add quiet a bit of work for enterprises for whom new product launch means 10-50 new pages launched at once. Winner: Google Analytics for the ease of implementation and maintenance.
3. Attribution Modeling
One of the differences between Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics is that GA360 has more extensive capabilities for attribution models.
What is an Attribution Model? Attribution model is a rule or a set of rules that determines how credit is given to different marketing channels for website Actions, Conversions and Sales. For example: let's say a User goes to your website five times before they make a purchase and use different marketing channels to get to the site (e.g. Organic Search, Paid Search, Display etc.).
Here is what this would look like from perspective of different attribution models:
First Touch - all credit is given to the channel that lead to the first Visit
Last Touch - all credit is given to the channel that lead to the last visit when the Sale took place (the most popular model)
Linear Model - all five channels get 20% credit for the Sale
Data Driven Attribution (DDA) - uses data from your Analytics account to learn and generate a custom model for assigning conversion credit to the different touch points.
Data Driven Attribution is one of the features our clients find the most useful in GA360 as it helps you make smarter strategic decisions on your future investment (one of the main goals of enterprise-grade analytics). At the time of publishing of this post attribution models in Adobe Analytics do not offer a Dynamic Attribution Model. Attribution in Adobe Analytics is evolving and chances are, this model will be added at some point.
Winner: GA360 for Data Driven Attribution model that helps establish a custom model for attributing conversions to certain channels, giving an ultimate insight to generate efficiencies for enterprise marketing investment.
4. Path Analysis
Adobe Analytics comes with an incredible, highly customizable pathing reports. Which can become even more granular with Adobe's Path Finder tool that can give you a visibility into Entry Points, Exits and specific content viewed on User's path, all in unsampled right in the UI.
Google Analytics has similar, functionality available via Behaviour Flow and Custom Funnels reports. However, Adobe allows for a much more granular and customizable breakdown.
Winner: Adobe Analytics for having a simple to use yet flexible and customizable functional for Path Analysis.
5. User Friendliness
One of the benefits of GA360 is a number of pre-defined reports available for all stakeholders at any time in the User Interface.
This is a much appreciated feature by most of our clients. It opens up cross-channel analysis for non-Analysts - a broader Marketing team, Media Planners, Strategists. If you have a broad Marketing team, this is something you will find very useful too. While Adobe Analytics has outstanding flexibility in the Workspaces tool, it does require a degree of technical knowledge to pull the correct data fast. With a considerable number of sProps, eVars and various event metrics, it's easy to pull the incorrect data. This leads to wrong decisions and potential performance impact. You need an expert. Winner: Google Analytics is definitely a winner here.
Summary - Google Analytics vs Adobe Analytics Pros and Cons
Table below summarizes the review above:
How to Choose Between Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics?
We went through some of the most important features in Google Analytics360 and Adobe Analytics.
However, the choice is yours and you should choose based on what is right for your business.
Both Google Analytics 360 and Adobe Analytics are excellent tools and combined with their respective marketing stacks can help you take your Digital Marketing capabilities to the next level and generate efficiencies for your business. Here is a couple more points to help understand which tool is right for your business.
You should likely choose Google Analytics 360 if:
You need multiple not technical stakeholders to have access to intuitive reports.
Your Analytics team can't service all requests by the above mentioned stakeholders.
You rely heavily on Online Media to generate revenue for your business and are already using some of Google's Premium tools: Search Ads 360, Campaign Manager 360, Display & Video 360, Google Optimize 360 or Google Tag Manger.
You rely on Salesforce Sales Cloud and want to build closed loop sales capabilities.
You are already using the free version of Google Analytics and want to retain the data.
Why use Adobe Analytics:
Your business requires a high degree of analytics customization.
You are already using other tools in Adobe Experience Cloud and are not willing to migrate: Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Campaign.
Still not sure, which tools is the right choice for your business? Let's have a fair conversation about your goals and how to get there.