Adobe Analytics is constantly improving and evolving, but it may need to be re-implemented to get the benefits of its new features.
As many of my blog readers know, I have been using Adobe Analytics for a long time! In the early days, I was one of Omniture’s first customers when I managed the website at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Back then, it was SiteCatalyst version 9.6 (though I am pretty sure the version number was made up to compete with Webtrends!). I think I had 25 success events and a handful of eVars and sProps. I had to pay extra if I wanted 2-, 5-, or 25-item correlations! The SiteCatalyst product slowly improved over the years and I vividly remember my excitement when trying out the Java-based “Discover” product for the first time!
The next big change to Adobe Analytics came with SiteCatalyst Version 15, when you could do instant segmentation, view traffic metrics for eVars, and much more. After that, I would say that Analysis Workspace was the next monumental shift in Adobe Analytics. Workspace brought a whole new reporting paradigm and broke down many barriers. You could now do unlimited breakdowns, combine eVars and sProps, do pathing on eVars, use many more visualizations and everything happened in seconds. Workspace successfully killed off the old Adobe Analytics reporting interface and the old Discover/Ad Hoc Analysis interfaces. It also brought things like anomaly detection and contribution analysis.
More recently, Attribution IQ has been a huge boost to Adobe Analytics implementations, providing much more flexibility when it comes to different attribution models and reporting windows. Attribution IQ has increased implementation flexibility (i.e., no need for multiple campaign tracking variables!) and data accuracy. There have also been some great integration improvements amongst Adobe products, such as A4T Adobe Target integration.
As you can see, the Adobe Analytics product team has worked hard to help those of us who depend on Adobe Analytics (thanks to great folks like Bret Gundersen, Ben Gaines, Jen Lasser, Trevor Paulsen, and Eric Matisoff).
Now, Adobe Analytics is about to go through its largest change yet. Adobe has re-thought its entire product stack and is in the process of rolling out the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) and the new Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) Adobe Analytics add-on.
AEP and CJA give users a unified method of ingesting, processing, and reporting on data. The Platform can ingest any type of data and combine it with any other type of data. AEP allows Adobe’s various products to better communicate with each other and share resources, which improves speed, scalability, and privacy for its customers. AEP leverages a new AEP Web SDK, AEP Mobile SDK, and a new XDM data layer schema for data collection.
In the Adobe Experience Platform, Adobe Analytics is just one of many potential data sources. There is no longer a need for Success Events, eVars, or sProps. All data fits into the new XDM schema and is timestamped so Adobe Analytics data isn’t that much different from Adobe Target data or even CRM data.
This means that in the future you won’t have to worry about how your Adobe Analytics data is “pre-processed” for things such as allocation, expiration, and persistence. All of these features that today have to be precisely established up-front for your implementation to be accurate can now be changed after the fact.
This type of flexibility reduces the risk of mistakes during the implementation and puts more power in the hands of the analyst. In a way, the power of implementation will gradually shift from the technical team to the analysis team, which, for most, will be a welcomed change! This also means that there will no longer be limits on the number of data points (the equivalent of unlimited Success Events, eVars and sProps, List Vars, etc.) or how much data is stored in each variable (i.e. no more “low traffic”!).
Customer Journey Analytics
Already some of the benefits of the Adobe Experience Platform are emerging. For those who want to see an omnichannel view of their customers, Adobe Analytics now offers an Adobe Analytics add-on called Customer Journey Analytics (which uses the Adobe Experience Platform) that allows you to combine website data, mobile data, store data, call-center data, etc., as long as you have a common ID to tie all of your data sources together.
This is super-cool since it allows you to see online and offline data combined in Analysis Workspace, build mixed online/offline segments, and see multi-channel attribution. This goes way beyond what has been done in the past with Data Sources and Transaction ID.
Ironically, one of the most interesting use-cases Adobe has seen with their new CJA offering is the importation of Google Analytics (GA360) data into the platform! Since GA data is treated just like any other data source, companies that don’t even use Adobe Analytics have begun importing GA data into CJA so they can use Analysis Workspace, but, more importantly, they’re taking advantage of some of the Adobe features that are not as advanced in GA360, such as visitor stitching, product merchandising, Attribution IQ, and so on! There is even an AEP BigQuery connector (and a soon-to-be-released GA360 connector) that makes it easy to import GA data into AEP and CJA! GA data in Adobe Analytics? It’s mass-hysteria!
How to Prepare for the Future
Thinking about moving to AEP or CJA can be intimidating. It feels like a massive change. But there are things that Adobe and organizations like Search Discovery are doing to help prepare you for this transition.
Adobe provides pre-built connectors that allow you to send data that exists today in Adobe Analytics to the Adobe Experience Platform and Customer Journey Analytics, but to get the full benefits of the Adobe Experience Platform and Customer Journey Analytics, current Adobe Analytics customers may eventually want to change the way they implement Adobe Analytics to use the new AEP Web SDK, AEP Mobile SDK, and XDM data layer schema mentioned earlier.
You will no longer be tagging for Success Events, eVars, or sProps and either your existing data layers will have to be updated to conform to the XDM schema or your data layer schema will have to augment the new XDM data layer. In the end, those wanting to take advantage of the benefits of the Platform (of which there are many!), will have to essentially do a re-implementation of Adobe Analytics.
In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since too many organizations neglect their Adobe Analytics implementations over time and this represents an opportunity to “kill two birds with one stone.” By reimplementing Adobe Analytics for AEP or CJA, you can:
- Future-proof your Adobe Analytics implementation for the foreseeable future
- Get the benefits of the Adobe Experience Platform
- Clean-up your current implementation to remove stuff that is no longer needed and add new things you may have wanted
Leverage Apollo to Prepare for the AEP/CJA
Years ago, when Search Discovery saw the tag management wave coming, it built the Satellite tag management system (later sold to Adobe and renamed Adobe DTM/Launch). Once again, we have seen a new wave coming.
While Search Discovery did not build its new Apollo analytics management system product specifically for Adobe’s Experience Platform, one of the key development goals was to move digital analytics clients away from the old way of implementing (i.e. Success Events, eVars, goals, dimensions, etc.) to the new event-driven data model. The direction that Adobe Analytics is headed is what we anticipated when we built Apollo.
Being part of the Adobe Experience Platform alpha and beta has only solidified our conviction that the direction we hoped the industry would take is coming to fruition. AEP lines up squarely with our vision, and we are excited that our new Apollo product will help migrate your current Adobe Analytics implementation into an AEP/CJA, XDM-compliant implementation.
How Apollo Works to Make Migration Easier
- Easy import: Our Apollo implementation import feature allows organizations to import their current Success Events, eVars, and sProps and have Apollo refactor them to use an event-driven data layer like the one expected by AEP/CJA.
- Empower ongoing improvement: You can also improve your implementation at the same time by adding any number of the hundreds of business requirements that come pre-loaded in Apollo.
- Streamline your processes: We also added many other features, such as pre-built solution designs, automated calculated metrics, automated Analysis Workspace dashboards, data layer validation, a visual SDR, and automated admin console updates.
- Speed everything up: By leveraging its core automation features, including the automatic generation of data layer specifications and automatic configuration of Adobe Launch, Apollo can help your organization migrate its current Adobe Analytics implementation to the Adobe Experience Platform in a matter of weeks instead of months.
- Plot your course: Even if your migration to the Platform is not planned for a while, you can still use Apollo today to improve your implementation and prepare it for a smooth transfer to the Adobe Experience Platform in the future. Plus, once your implementation is managed by Apollo, you can continuously update it with new business questions anytime you want and take advantage of all of its time-saving maintenance features.
The Adobe Analytics product has never stood still. It is constantly improving and evolving to do more for its customers so they can help improve the experiences of their customers. Change can be unsettling, but we look at the changes to Adobe Analytics and the introduction of AEP/CJA as a huge step forward (“one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”). I encourage you to embrace the future and envision the possibilities it enables.
If you want to expedite your transition to this future, please go to the Apollo website and arrange a demo of the Apollo product with me to see how it can help transition your Adobe Analytics implementation to this new exciting future…