At the “Emetrics Summit”:http://www.emetrics.org/ in Washington DC last Wednesday, Brett Crosby of Google announced the launch of “Google Website Optimizer”:http://services.google.com/websiteoptimizer/, beta. A multivariate testing platform free to those with a “Google Adwords”:https://adwords.google.com/select/Login account, Optimizer allows you to test landing pages or conversion events for not only search engine marketing, but also email, ads or an offline drive-to-web campaign. Sure, this will help Google increase Adwords revenue but it’s a definite win-win for Adwords customers as well. Way to go Google!
I had been in Washington for the Summit since the Saturday before, and after 4 days of very long days and jam-packed sessions, some of our heads were filled to brim. However, we were awake enough to suspect something was up when Brett walked to the podium wearing a suit with his presentation on a flash drive and not preloaded.
Use of the Optimizer is by invitation only. Google will be screening sites before they allow access to the Optimizer. Brett said that they definitely have criteria for admission and I hope that this includes a screening of the readiness of the applicant to do a robust test. There’s nothing more dangerous than an invalid test. Because people tend to have more confidence in test results, they tend to risk more. Taking action on invalid test results can be deadly.
In a move that might seem to some as odd, Brett specifically highlighted a professional services partnership with “Optimost”:http://www.optimost.com/ (who has their own suite of multivariate testing tools). However, I think this shows Google realizes the need for ensuring valid tests. So yes it’s a free tool, but it may be wise to pay for support resources to ensure you’re on the right path.
If your site already uses another Web traffic tracking tool, you may still be able to use Google’s Website Optimzer. Just make sure that you talk to your Information Technology department about this, before you start making any plans. And if you do run a test in this multi-tool situation, don’t try to reconcile the Web traffic numbers between Google Analytics and your existing tool. I guarantee the numbers will be different. Create a baseline. Compare your baseline to your test results. That’s what you’re after right? Experimental results that help you improve!
There’s already been “some concern raised”:http://www.traffick.com/2006/10/another-watershed-release-from-google.asp about data use by Google. I blogged that Scott Crosby (yup, Brett’s brother) was asked a similar question about Google’s use of data earlier this month at CMA’s “Marketing Accountability Conference”:http://www.the-cma.org/events/accountability.cfm. Scott he said Google Analytics data is kept very tight within the Analytics group, they do not plan to release aggregate benchmarks, and data is not shared with other parts of Google. It comes down to the question only you can answer: do you trust Google? (“More about this”:http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3623700 from a fellow Emetrics presenter, Neil Mason)