James Parker | Wednesday May 30, 2018 | CRO

Experimenting with Google Optimize

Google Optimize, Google’s free AB testing and personalisation tool has been around for some time now, however take up appears to have been relatively slow. It could be argued early iterations were not easy to work with in terms of integration and creating tests on the fly, this may initially have put advertisers off offering little incentive to switch from existing third party paid solutions.

The latest release appears to have addressed many of the aforementioned issues. In terms of integration, the process is now incredibly straight forward. For those advertisers using GTM (Google Tag Manager), required changes to tracking are minimal. Once a Google Optimize account has been created and the related partner tracking ID is added in GTM you are pretty much done in terms of integration. If you are not using GTM the process is slightly fiddlier, but still relatively simple. The Google Optimize code snippet available once you have created an account must be added to your existing Google Analytics site tracking, either site wide or just to pages that will take part in testing.

Linking Optimize to your AdWords account is a doddle! Assuming your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts are already linked (they really should be) you simply need to navigate to ‘linked accounts’ in AdWords and then select ‘enable optimize account linking’.

Selecting the AdWords campaigns / ad groups to be included in your tests, setting the weighting and defining the test goals is again very straight forward. The Optimize interface is clean and designed not to confuse. You can get tests up and running pretty quickly once the setup is completed.

In terms of features, the free version of Optimize compares well to Google’s paid solution (Optimize 360). Google appears to have been pretty generous in terms of what it has given away for free, obviously looking to convert trialists to the paid solution. However, for advertisers at a more advanced stage of creative testing the free version does have its limitations. If your requirement is to run multi-page tests then the free tool is probably not for you. That aside, the only other area the free service falls short is customer support which is pretty much non-existent. If you’re prepared to scour related forums for assistance, the chances are you’ll find what you were looking for.

Whilst the free tool currently stacks up well against 360, the rumours are there is a potential game changer about to land in the coming months. Google’s latest attribution offering, which will very likely only be offered to paid customers.

To summarise, the free version of Google Optimize is now a pretty handy resource. It could be argued that setting up tests is a lot more straight forward than it is through a number of the third party paid solutions out there (without naming names).

If you are still running AB tests through AdWords campaign experiments and want to move on to the next level of creative testing, Optimize is a very good free option!


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