Google Optimize Sunset: Time to Reimagine Testing and Personalization with a Future-Proof Solution
On January 20, 2023, Google announced the sunset of Google Optimize and Optimize 360. Both the free-of-charge and paid versions of their experimentation tool are discontinued after September 30, 2023.
If your company uses either version of the tool, it’s time to set a deadline for migration. If they were on your shortlist for future initiatives, just cross them out. In any case, you have to find a future-proof Google Optimize alternative to test your site and landing pages.
Optimize Didn’t Suffice Anyway…
Google admitted that its solution missed many of the features that companies require for experimentation testing and fell behind the solutions developed by other vendors. The company brought up this fact as the primary reason for discontinuing.
Surely, the solution had plenty of customers that were happy with it. The free version served as a gateway to experimentation for small businesses that wouldn’t have started it otherwise. Nonetheless, the deprecation of Optimize was predestined because of it being closely tight with Universal Analytics, which goes away on July 1, 2023.
Instead of trying to upgrade Optimize, Google decided to invest in building open APIs for their newly-launched Google Analytics 4, to effectively integrate it with third-party experimentation tools. The company also plans for testing capabilities in GA4, but it’s unlikely they become available by the time Google Optimize goes away.
What Alternatives Do You Have?
What replacement to pick depends on the maturity and complexity of your experimentation and personalization program and the analytics tool you’re going to use. If you plan to stay with GA4, you should be ready to cope with potential 3-party tool integration challenges:
- Data discrepancies and software incompatibilities
- Inconsistencies in audiences, segments, and metrics
- Redundancies and inefficiencies in workflows
To mitigate risks, you might want to opt for one of the solutions recommended by Google itself. The company is currently collaborating with AB Tasty, Optimizely, and VWO. Those vendors are likely to offer more seamless integrations with GA4.
A more tough decision to be made by companies looking for a replacement for Optimize 360. Its deprecation is another reason for them to consider moving away from Google to a different vendor that provides equally powerful integrated marketing and analytics solutions.
The first vendor worth consideration for medium to large companies is Adobe. Their experimentation and personalization solution—Adobe Target—is an integral part of Adobe Experience Cloud and seamlessly integrates with Adobe Analytics.
Now, let’s recap Optimize 360 core capabilities to know must-have and nice-to-have features for your new solution. At a minimum, the tool should have features similar to those you already use; at a maximum, it should offer something on top of it.
The Good and Bad About Optimize 360
Being a part of the Analytics 360 Suite, Optimize 360 was quite a useful personalization and experimentation tool for Google Marketing Cloud customers. Among the advantages of the platform, we should mention the following:
- User-friendly interface. An intuitive visual editor made it easy to create and launch experiments and personalizations.
- Dual Capabilities. Marketers could use one solution to cover A/B testing, multivariate testing, and personalization needs.
- Testing Ads. Native integration with Google Search Ads 360 allowed you to test and personalize ads at all levels: Account, Campaign, Ad Group, or Keyword.
- Campaign objectives. Native integration with Google Analytics allowed you to use Events and Goals as objectives for Optimize 360 campaigns.
- Targeting GA Audiences. Optimize 360 allowed you to use audiences created in Analytics for targeting and personalization.
- Reports in Google Analytics. Marketers could analyze results in Google Analytics 360 using flexible reporting features.
Yet the platform didn’t allow running sophisticated testing and optimization programs. Among the drawbacks of the platform, we should mention:
- Limited targeting options. Customers had issues with Google Optimize not working for audiences that require multiple targeting criteria to define them.
- Page flickering. Customers frequently faced problems with A/B testing, when the control page would load first and then swap for its variation.
- Slow page loading. The tool would sometimes cause low website loading speed that spoils user experience.
- Manual testing and personalization. Google’s solution didn’t have ML/AI features for smart automation.
To sum it up, the ideal Google Optimize replacement would be an all-in-one A/B testing, multivariate testing, and personalization solution with flexible targeting options, native integrations with analytics tools, and stable performance—and Adobe Target checks all the boxes.
Adobe Target vs. Google Optimize Features Comparison
To better understand the testing and personalization capabilities of Google’s and Adobe’s platforms, let’s go through a short comparison table.
|Capabilities/Apps||Google Optimize||Optimize 360||Adobe Target|
|Multivariate testing (MVT)s||limited to 16 combinations||✓||✓|
|Platforms and channels||Websites, web apps||Websites, web apps||Websites, web apps, native and hybrid mobile apps, email, connected devices…|
|Personalization||✓||✓||✓ By any attribute available in integrated customer profiles or any of your integrated data sources|
|Product & Content Recommendations||–||–||✓ By previous user activity, preferences, various criteria, and rules (Premium plan only)|
|ML algorithm-based automation features for targeting, testing, personalization, recommendations||–||–||✓ Auto-Allocate and Auto-Target traffic allocation methods, Automated 1:1 Personalization (Premium plan only)|
|Payment plan||Free||Paid||Paid (Standard and Premium plans)*|
*Adobe has a special offer for companies switching from Google Optimize to Adobe Target. You get three months free in case of a 2-year commitment or six months free in case of a 3-year commitment. If interested, feel free to contact us for more details.
The table shows that Google’s customers don’t lose any capability when moving to Adobe Target. But let’s look closer at the additional opportunities Target brings to the table.
Adobe Target as the Ultimate Replacement
Adobe Target offers more than just the features required to replace Google’s solution. It can help you scale and expand your optimization and personalization efforts. With Target, you can finally get a single software tool to help you:
- Back up your customer journey adjustments with statistical methodologies and attribute your ROIs to the changes.
- Roll out new features on websites and mobile apps in statistically validated ways to control risk and improve outcomes.
- Rely on Adobe Sensei ML and AI to automate and scale testing, personalization, and recommendations.
- Rest assured that data flows appropriately between apps in a heterogenous marketing technology stack.
These goals are more achievable than ever before thanks to Target’s advanced features and capabilities that set it apart from other platforms:
- Omnichannel testing and personalization. Target enables you to improve and personalize experiences along cross-channel and cross-device customer journeys.
- Progressive integrated customer profile. Benefit from the CDP that aggregates all data you can get about your customers and their experiences and enables you to act on every piece of it using your marketing tools.
- Unlimited targeting and personalization options. With Target, you can segment audiences by any available characteristics related to technology, context, time, past interactions, or any other data you have.
- Synchronized data analytics and reporting. Native server-to-server integration with Adobe Analytics helps you leverage shared audiences in both tools and get timely insights on the test performance and impact of personalizations.
- Client-side, server-side, and hybrid deployments. Leverage advanced data collection methods to avoid bloating your site with JS code and ensure fast page load times.
- Integrations with a hybrid technology stack. Target is the most powerful when combined with other Adobe Experience Cloud apps, but it can be implemented stand-alone and integrated with 3-party technologies.
Adobe’s customer success stories prove that businesses of different scales can rely on Adobe Target to increase engagement, conversions, and revenue while lowering operational costs.
Migrating From Optimize 360 to Adobe Target
To avoid interruptions in your experimentation and personalization activities, you should have an alternative solution up and running by the Google Optimize Sunset date.
- The first thing to do before migration is export your Optimize reports in CSV files for all the ended experiments that matter to your team and can be used for reference in the upcoming experiments. Make sure to export data before September 30, 2023, because, on the next day, it will no longer be available.
- Check if you can still get the Target limited-time offer from the Adobe Team. Adobe sees an opportunity and prepares a special offer to sweeten the deal for Google customers switching to Target—there’s no reason to pass on it. Being Adobe Solution Partner, Axamit can consult you on this matter.
- Team up with Axamit to migrate data, build integrations, and learn how to use the new tool. The more sophisticated your setup is, the more difficult it will be to replicate it using the new solution. By engaging experienced Adobe Target consultants, you’ll ensure a seamless and fast migration process.
This way or another, Google Optimize deprecation will result in a complete re-implementation of your experimentation and personalization platform. We advise you to be strategic and opt for a future-proof solution that can replicate your current setup and let you scale and upgrade it in the future.