Google Analytics is set to see a number of big improvements this year, one of which is going to be customer lifetime value. This leads me to believe that they may be planning on moving from a 1st party cookie to a 3rd party cookie or perhaps no cookie – and the reasons for this are clear – more money for Google. Let me explain.
A first party cookie can only be read by your own domain, but with a third party cookie it could be tracked across different Google properties/websites, it can also be a way for Google to store details centrally.
One of the biggest issues with evaluating the worth of Google AdWords was working out how much money from a sale could be attributed to AdWords – the more sales that Google can prove that ad clicks provide, the better ROI advertisers will see and so the more they will be prepared to bid per click. Much of this has now been proven through the release of multi-channel funnels, and also currently in beta testing their attribution modelling tool (sign up here). But even this won’t go far enough – why? Because of multi-screening.
People are more and more beginning to browse the web on their smartphones and tablets, with many doing product research on their smartphone perhaps whilst they are on the move – making their purchasing decision and then revisiting and purchasing when they get back to their PC/laptop/tablet.
The only way Google can get at this data is if they switch from tracking cookies, to people, the best way for them to do this is through a first party cookie on Google.com which can also work in conjunction with them recording your device details or your computer details and whether you logged in or not etc. I believe this is going to be the way that they can show to you who visits on their smartphone and then converts on their PC.
So what effect will this have?
1. Not only will Google AdWords bids climb again, but all advertising will see an uplift, which will be good news for AdSense publishers.
2. They are saying we will get access to customer life time values, but we may also get access to anonymous profiles – demographic data such as age, sex, interests etc. (I hope).
3. We may see them try and scrap the cookie all together to get round the EU cookie law – which will want to crack down on this type of thing most likely. If they do find a non-cookie solution, then it could mean improved accuracy in Analytics.
4. Google will make a lot more money – so expect them to grow a bit, again.
I think we may also see physical locations on smart phones being tracked as a conversions – although this is probably a bit further in the future.