Breaking News: Google Optimize goes down on Sept. 30

Last Modified: Jan 24th, 2023 - Category: Marketing, News
Google Optimize Sunset: GOes Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Google Optimize, the popular website optimization and experimentation tool, is closing down on September 30, 2023. The decision was announced by Google in a mandatory email sent to users, in which the company mentioned the move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as the main reason for the shutdown.

The body of the email is shown below:

Hello Google Optimize user,

Google Optimize and Optimize 360 will no longer be available after September 30, 2023. Any experience still active on that date will end. For more information on how to download historical data, visit the Help Center.

We launched Google Optimize over 5 years ago to enable businesses of all sizes to easily test and improve their user experiences. We understand the value of A/B testing for marketers, and will be sharing new ways to bring experimentation at scale to businesses in the coming weeks.

Thank you for using Google Optimize and Optimize 360 to test different experiences for your visitors. We remain excited for the vision for A/B testing within Google Analytics 4.

Sincerely,

The Google Optimize Team

Mail from Google LLC

Google Optimize, (GO for short) was launched in June 2011, and it allows users to conduct A/B tests, personalization, and multivariate tests on their websites to improve user experience and conversions. This tool is widely used by digital marketers and website owners to optimize their pages and improve their online performance.

However, with the growing popularity of Google Analytics, Google has decided to focus on integrating website optimization and experimentation capabilities into this platform instead. The company believes that this will provide a more seamless and efficient experience for users, as they will no longer have to switch between multiple tools to access different features when they create marketing strategies.

Notice shown to Google Optimize users in their website
Note for Google Optimize users when they enter the administration area

Google has also announced that all data from GO will be automatically migrated to Google Analytics 4, so users will not lose any of their testing and optimization data.

While the closure of Google Optimize may be disappointing to some users (especially marketing professionals ), it is important to note that the tool’s features will still be available through Google Analytics. In fact, one could argue that the integration of these features into GA4 makes it even more powerful and useful for optimizing and experimenting with websites.

What to expect from Google Optimize moving to Google Analytics 4

Google Optimize experiments options
GO and its different experimentation options

GO has several types of tests, as shown in the image above. The types of tests are:

  • A/B test Tests two or more variants of a page. Also called an A/B/n test.
  • Multivariate test (also known as MVT) Tests variants with two or more different sections.
  • Redirect test Tests separate web pages identified by different URLs or paths.
  • Personalization This option allows you to personalize your page for targeted visitors.
  • Banner template Adds a notification banner to the top of your website.

This leads us to the following question: why does Google say they’re discontinuing a service, but you shouldn’t worry because it’ll be replaced by something similar? Especially considering that this “something similar” clearly doesn’t offer the same features or services.

We can only speculate.

Just as with the Figma news and other articles analyzing various business models, we can only make assumptions. But as in those cases, we can speculate based on past experience. We don’t want to toot our own horn, but everything we said in those articles has come true. And it’s not that we have a crystal ball or fortune telling abilities. It’s just that the answers we’ve given are based on past experiences, sometimes even with the same actors.

Marketing Strategies 101

The obvious thing that comes to mind is that if they don’t have it, they’ll build it. They probably already had.

That’s cool and actually good news. I’m not going to complain about it! Most Optimize alternatives are actually connected to Google Analytics, so having it connected by default will make things easier for marketers and UX researchers.

Google Optimize goes paid

However, when we analyze these tools like Optimizely, Adobe Target, VWO, AB Tasty, Hotjar, etc., we notice one thing: not only are they not free (with the exception of Hotjar, which has a very limited free option); they’re actually very expensive and can run well into the thousands of dollars PER MONTH. This is quite interesting.

So one might wonder if they’ll charge fees, as the above companies do. And the answer to that is Google itself.

Optimize free vs. Optimize 360

You may have noticed that I mentioned both Optimize and Optimize 360. Well, they’re actually two different things. The first one is a limited version and completely free.

On the other hand, we have Optimize 360, which is a paid tool that is part of the Google Marketing Platform. The price tag for this platform is quite high. While it depends on many factors, such as traffic and location, you can expect to pay around $12,500 per month in the US. You read correctly, this isn’t a mistake. We’re talking about $150,000 per year.

Of course, paying that much is unthinkable for most marketers, businesses and website owners. And we must not forget: in the beginning, Google’s model didn’t include to charge for services. Their business model is to charge for data. Your data, my data, everyone’s data.

But that business model has changed over time. As years went by, some of Google’s new ventures became fee-based. However, in a way that was affordable to the vast majority of its audience. Good examples are Google Maps, most Google APIs, Google Workspace, YouTubeā€¦

Do you see the trend? They were all completely free at first and then moved to freemium models.

What does this mean for the imminent end of Google Optimize and the new powerful GA4?

Basically, that you’ll have to pay.

In other words: Google still deals with data (yours, mine, everyone’s), but now they will charge you for it. They can do it, they did it before, there’s no reason to believe they won’t do it again.

So does it mean GA4 will be paid?

Breaking News: Google Optimize goes down on Sept. 30 1
Example of the current Google Analytics, also known as Universal Analytics or UA

Again, these are just assumptions. I could be completely wrong. But as they say, man is the only animal that stumbles over the same stone twice, and we have all been there.

I am not a betting man, but if I had to wager, I’d say Google will still offer a basic GA4 suite for free (after all, they need your data and mine and everyone’s), then an affordable option that probably includes Google Optimize (what we know as free), and then a full marketing toolkit with different pricing tiers, probably starting at a more affordable price than now.

A/B and multivariate testing: the affordable option

Let us face it: Information is power and has a high value. If you are running your business on nothing more than lucky guesses, it could be a recipe for disaster. You might even be right sometimes. Most of the time. But contexts change. And in the event that a context changes and you have no idea what’s happening (or was happening), you could lose everything.

So A/B testing and multivariate testing (also known as MVT testing) are fundamental tools you need to know and master. And if you do not know how, then you need to use some of the tools mentioned in this article, starting with GA4.

Let’s do an exercise: imagine for a moment a “blind” SEO strategy. You have a clue about your competitors, but no idea about your own data. Now, in this scenario, you buy ad space for keywords that you know might work for you. So now you check your stats, and everything looks good, except that your ads aren’t bringing in the results you expected. And worst of all, you have no idea why.

The problem is that there are several possible answers. It could be the color you’re using, the placement of the CTA button, your copy, your sales funnel, a poor target audienceā€¦ that’s what analytics tools are for!

And yes, they can be expensive. But as long as the investment fits your budget, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Q: What if my budget is low?

You may be asking the question in the headline. And the answer is simple: then do it the old fashioned way, by crunching numbers and letting UX and marketing specialists like those at Dorve UX do the hard work for you! You get the numbers, you get the data AND you also get the strategies to follow, something neither Googlw nor any other analytics service can give you!

Let’s just have a virtual cup of coffee and find out what we can do for you!

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