Now you can use the same technology that powers products such as Android and Search to ask Google Analytics for insight about your data, and get your answer quickly. According to Google, this enables the democratisation of data which will enable anyone to understand the data presented to them within Google Analytics.
Is Google killing the role of an Analyst? What does this mean for you? What does the future hold? We’ll look to answer all of your questions and leave you with some actionable insight.
Ask a question, get an answer from Google Analytics
Google has now launched a feature within Google Analytics that allows you to ask it questions about your data in order to help surface insights. Google will then look to return you the answer in plain English, immediately. This has started to roll out to all English markets from July 18th 2017.
For most, this announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as it was discussed in 2016’s Google Performance Summit and Intent, Data and Machine Learning were key themes at this year’s Google Marketing Next.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence won’t just be used to analyse large data sets, but it will continue to act upon the myriad of data signals over the next few years. This year shows some significant steps forward across it’s technology for advertisers.
Is Google killing off the role of an Analyst?
The aim is to make it easier for people to be able to get information they need without having to rely on data analysts or without needing deep familiarity with the Google Analytics interface.
Let’s imagine how an imaginary conversation between Google and an Analyst about the new feature might play out…
Analyst: “Oh hey Google. Tell me more about the Analytics Intelligence feature update. I’ve heard that I can simply ask Google Analytics a question about my historical data and you’ll give me the answer.“
Google: “That’s right. Asking questions in Analytics Intelligence can help everyone get their answers directly ― so team members get what they need faster, and analysts like you can spend their valuable time on deeper research & discovery.”
Analyst: “Ok. That actually sounds kinda useful. I usually spend half of my time answering basic analytics questions so you can take this off me! This can then free up to time to give some insight behind these numbers.“
Google: “We can actually help you out here too as we can utilise the above technology alongside automated insights to go beyond answering your questions.”
Analyst: “I see. Well I’ll still need to pull that report together. I know how my colleagues and clients like the data to be presented.“
Google: “We can help you here too. If you keep asking Analytics Intelligence more questions around certain KPIs such as Conversions, we’ll start to learn that this metric is important to you and personalise your experience. The more people use it, the more the system as a whole get’s more precise.”
Analyst: “Right. It’s starting to sound like I won’t have much work to do. Let’s find something where we can work together on this. It seems like you can answer a lot of the ‘What’ questions about the historical data and I can answer the ‘Why’ questions. You know, questions such as ‘Why are my sales down’ etc?”
Google: “OK this is starting to get a little awkward dude. Soon, we’ll be able to answer questions such as that based on your datasets. Not to rub it in or anything, but the ultimate aim is to provide users with the answers to ‘How’ questions. These are questions such as ‘How do make more sales or revenue?’. Cool eh?”
Analyst: “…………….OK Google, show me jobs near me”
Maybe we are being a little to cynical here.
But you can see how Google is taking some power away from the analyst and giving it to the people. Let’s break down what this means…
Will it actually free up more time to be forward thinking?
I agree that this allows Analysts to spend less time going cutting through data. In theory, by making it easier for everyone at every level to simply ‘Ask’ Google Analytics a question it takes the majority of these questions away from Analysts. This then free’s up their time to be focusing on more important tasks, and quite frankly more interesting thought leadership.
In a world where we have more data than ever, it’s easy to get bogged down in the detail without taking the time to think. By getting this time back, there is more opportunity to sit back, strategise, and beat the competition.
Let’s not forget that not all marketing is with Google via Paid Search. What about Bing?
Bing have made some great advances in the world of Voice Search through Cortana. I wouldn’t put it past them to look incorporating this into their own Ad Platforms such as Bing Ads in the future.
Are we scared of relying on Google Analytics to give us the answers?
Google Analytics already gives you the answers you need if you know where to look. All this is doing is making Artificial Intelligence more human and accessible to anyone who has access. You don’t necessarily have to be an Analyst to get the answers you need anymore.
We do though need to be careful not to undervalue the vital role that Analysts play in being able to interpret and fully understand the data. Google won’t have that deep understanding of your market, how your business operates, or what your competition is doing…yet. They are definitely going in that direction, ever more allowing you to upload your offline business data into it’s platforms to help understand the wider picture. But being able to truly understand this completely is still a while away.
The data and insights it will be able to currently give will therefore be limited to the data it has access to.
Are we going to have less analysts in the future?
Potentially in Paid Search and other channels. If Google is focusing it’s efforts on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence through it’s product activation and optimisation, then this potentially means less of a need to rely on Analysts doing a lot of the work.
This leaves businesses and agencies with the need to adapt and look at ways to evolve the role of an analyst in order to future proof. We are already starting to see more ‘Biddable’ roles in the workplace; less analysts specialising within one marketing channel and instead becoming more generalist across different areas such as Paid Search to Display to Paid Social…for better or worse.
There is no doubt that this feature demonstrates the ultimate aim for Google and it’s platforms for advertisers
These tools have been available in Google’s consumer products for a while, but it’s been a long time coming for advertisers. By giving us these tools, Google is making it easier to understand the data in a human way. If they make it easier to understand the data, it’s easier to make decisions. If it’s easier to make decisions, its easier to invest in the right areas. Probably Google. By making smarter decisions, your consumers will be happier. If your consumers are happier, your business and Google are happy as you continue to invest in it’s services.
Incorporating this technology into Google Analytics is only the start. This will probably become the norm across all of it’s Ad platforms within the next few years. It won’t be about simply answering questions and giving basic insight. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d be able to give Google voice instructions to help create or optimise campaigns based on conditions.
Is this then the start of the end of the Analyst as we currenly know it?
What do you need to do?
Keep calm and carry on
Be mindful that machine learning and AI is a key focus for Google and any new releases in the future for advertisers. It’s inevitable. But let’s embrace it and make our marketing smarter. Use your free time to move your accounts forward and kick some ass.
I’m quietly optimistic about this.
Help Google learn
In their blog post, Google says that it’s Intelligence system get’s smarter over time. As a result, we need to keep asking questions, look at the insights and leave feedback. You can find some simple questions to start asking Google Analytics here.
I’d say at least give it a go. What harm can it bring?
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