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Category: Digital Experience

Google Optimize 360 vs. Optimizely: A Testing Royal Rumble

June 29, 2016

Google is officially stepping back into the testing ring. Serving as the successor to Content Experiments (which previously replaced Google Website Optimizer), Optimize 360 is Google’s latest testing technology meant to rival its main competitors. So why should your company pay attention?

Make Your Data Actionable

If your company is using Google Analytics 360 (formerly known as Google Analytics Premium) then you’ve already seen the value of analyzing your customers’ behavior and their journey through your site. You’re probably also already an expert at identifying differences in performance for various audience segments. So when you find a particular audience segment that’s performing better or worse than others, what do you do about it?

Whether you’ve found that males under the age of 30 convert at a higher rate than males over the age of 50, chances are that both segments are seeing the same experience when they visit your site.

optimized landing page screenshot

Google Optimize 360 gives your business the opportunity to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach and instead leverage your key findings from Analytics 360 to customize your website for your various audience segments.

Convenience is Key

Unlike its main competitor, Optimizely, Optimize 360 offers native integration with Analytics 360. This eliminates the need to recreate your key audiences on the testing platform. Further, you can leverage the data variable layers you’ve created in Google Tag Manager for targeting in Optimize 360:

Optimize 360 Data Layer

In addition to having easy access to your existing audience segments and data layer variable targeting, Google recognizes that your business objectives should also be your testing objectives. As a result, Optimize 360 automatically pulls in your Analytics goals to serve as goals for your tests, in addition to other page metrics:

analytics 360 goals in optimize 360 screenshot

Native integration with Analytics 360 is a two-way street, so the test data you have in Optimize 360 is also available in Analytics 360. This will allow you to further analyze performance results and uncover new key learnings:

Optimize 360 Native Integration with Analytics 360

Specifically, you can analyze your test data located within the Experiments Report:

screenshot of optimize 360 experiments report

Further, you can take a deeper dive into analyzing results by creating a custom report and including metrics that are important to your business:

optimize 360 custom report screenshot

Additionally, your test data can be utilized to create new audience segments, where you can easily compare test performance against your key audience segments:

screenshot of optimize 360 new audience segments

Advanced Technical Expertise is Not Necessary

Google Optimize 360 wants to make testing available to all users, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Therefore, it provides a user-friendly visual editor, on par with Optimizely, that you can use to create tests.

example of optimize 360 visual editor

Also, similar to Optimizely, there is the option to edit html and javascript for those users seeking to make more complex changes.

Finally, after you have a winning experiment, setting the winning variation live is as simple as clicking a couple buttons. This allows you to easily serve customized experiences for different audience segments.

One Platform Dual Capabilities

Unlike Optimizely, Optimize 360 offers businesses the ability to conduct testing and personalization as one service. While Optimizely offers personalization on a similar platform as its testing platform, these two services have to be purchased separately.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Google Optimize 360 offers many of the same capabilities as Optimizely. What sets it apart is its native integration with Analytics 360, which leverages key insights your business has already discovered. It’s important to note that with Optimize 360’s impressive targeting and personalization capabilities, privacy is still integral. Individual user information isn’t shared with marketers.

The main benefits of Optimize 360 are subject to one major caveat – you’ll want to ensure that your Google Analytics account is implemented correctly. If tracking or goals aren’t set properly within Analytics 360 then this will compromise your testing results within Optimize 360.

In addition, while Optimize 360 allows for A/B, multivariate and redirect testing, you won’t be able to create a multi-page test, which Optimizely offers. Moreover, it’ll be difficult to track a specific action on the site as a test goal if it isn’t being tracked as a goal in Analytics (e.g. tracking a click on a specific button).

Like any A/B testing tool, Optimize 360 has its share of pros and cons. However, all in all, it looks like for Google the third time’s a charm.

See our detailed comparison chart below, and contact us to learn how we can help you evaluate, implement, and take action with your testing platform.

Optimize 360 vs. Optimizely Comparison Chart

 Capabilities  Optimize 360  Optimizely
Requirements before using the testing platform
  1. Have a Google Analytics account
  2. Add Optimize 360 code snippet to your site
  3. Use Chrome web browser to create test
  4. Download the Optimize Chrome Extension in order to create test (this isn’t necessary to view test results)
Add Optimizely code snippet to your site
Add code snippet within Google Tag Manager No No
Integration with Google Analytics 360 Native  Third Party
Access to Google Analytics audience segments for testing Yes No
Analytics goals for testing Yes (automatically available within the Experiment dashboard) Not available within Optimizely’s dashboard; it’s only available if the specific experiment is integrated with an Analytics custom dimension and a custom report is created
Target data layer variables from Google Tag Manager for testing  Yes No
Experiment Traffic – Counting Methodology Session-based Visitor-based
User-friendly visual editor Yes Yes
HTML, Javascript, and CSS edits  Yes Yes
View changes made to a specific experiment Yes Yes
View dashboard change history  Yes Yes
A/B Experiments  Yes Yes
Multivariate experiments Yes Yes
Redirect experiments  Yes Yes
Multi-page experiments No Yes
Mobile app testing No Yes
Use of non-analytics goals as experiments goals No Yes
Preview experiment on different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) Yes Yes
Experiment Scheduler (schedule tests to start & stop at a specific time)  No Yes (for enterprise plans)
Statistical Significance Methodology  Bayesian Method 2-tailed likelihood ratio test and false discovery rate control
Shareable test reports from testing dashboard  No (but you can share a custom report created in Google Analytics) Yes
Test report annotation No Yes
Ability to prioritize customized experiences, where users may qualify for more than one experience No Yes
Third-party integration with heat mapping technology (e.g. ClickTale, CrazyEgg) No Yes
Customer Support
  • Web-based
  • Email
  • Agency support – Blast Analytics & Marketing
  • Web-based
  • Email (depends on plan)
  • Phone (depends on plan)
  • Agency support – Blast Analytics & Marketing
Testing and personalization services Offered as one service Offered as separate service
Free Starter Plan No Yes (for testing)


Roopa Carpenter
About the Author

Roopa Carpenter is Vice President of Digital Experience (DX) at Blast. She leads a team of talented, DX consultants responsible for helping brands to better understand, optimize and measurably impact their digital experience. With many years of experience, Roopa offers a high level of knowledge and guidance to clients across a variety of industries regarding testing and personalization strategy and execution, user experience research and closing the empathy gap through Voice of Customer. Her data-driven approach focuses on impacting customer conversion and driving desired business outcomes.

Connect with Roopa on LinkedIn. Roopa Carpenter has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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