Curtain Call For Google Optimize: Pure Speculation? Grain of Truth? Convert’s Take On It.
Update: Google Optimize Sunset Officially Announced!
This means that you will no longer be able to run any A/B tests or deploy personalizations using this platform.
However, fear not.
We have been in business for 13 years and as the most affordable tool option out there over the last decade, we have a lot of hands-on experience helping smaller teams succeed.
It seems like yesterday when we were talking about Google Optimize being the hot new A/B testing platform… (2015… wow, we at Convert have always been kinda nosy).
And we all know what happened from there on out…
GO came, it saw, it conquered… Google Optimize did to experimentation what Google Analytics did to data collection and measurement. Everybody could now take a stab at the black box and feel competent at it.
Whether that’s a good thing (or not) is up for debate.
This expose is meant to address the murmurs.
Fast forward to 2022, and it seems like another disruption is on the horizon.
Is it true? Is Google looking to sunset Google Optimize?
Here’s the “Full Story”. Literally.
We poked around, and according to one of our esteemed sources, rumblings surfaced at Spark, FullStory’s 2022 User Conference.
That puts the date between October 3rd and 5th, 2022.
We’ve crawled a lot of internet archives, but so far the term “sunset” applies exclusively to Universal Analytics. In case you are a creature of the deep web and have seen evidence that predates October 2022, drop a comment.
‘Cause the plot thickens.
Probably no one paid a lot of attention to the fledgling bombshell, til Collin Cromwell (Senior Director at Kameleoon, North America) did the unthinkable. He aired his concerns:
On LinkedIn, and in CXL’s Private Facebook Group.
This was echoed by Deborah O’Malley’s post (which tackled the broader implications of a popular tool like Google Optimize being sunset), but we will mostly focus on what the comments in these two posts held in terms of the validity of the news.
Here’s what we know so far.
- As our CEO Dennis van der Heijden pointed out, Google has joined forces with A/B testing behemoth Optimizely to bring ML- and AI-driven customer experience innovations to the market, leveraging Google’s sprawling cloud presence. The Venture Harbor article further clarifies that Optimizely’s perspective here is to take on Adobe Experience Cloud and Salesforce Commerce Cloud with the handshake. Big fishes!
But what is Google’s iron in the fire?
Collin added to the conversation with insider takes from his source:
They haven’t formally said anything about deprecating Google Optimize, but they have stopped accepting Google Optimize certifications as a requirement of their premier partner statuses. My thought is with the recent partnership between Optimizely and Google, eventually, Google will fold in Optimizely as their A/B testing tool.
I think it’s going to start with replacing Firebase’s A/B testing tool first. Since, currently, it’s a cloud partnership.
Firebase adds the ability to run and ship tests on mobile apps to GO’s kitty.
- Put a pin in this part “stopped accepting Google Optimize certifications” because, in our independent research, we stumbled upon this as well. One of our contacts acknowledged that even though Google Optimize 360 deals were still being taken at their end, GO certifications had been deprecated. They also expressed the sentiment that Firebase would probably be the first to retire.
Here we are treading speculative waters, but can’t ignore Shiva Manjunath’s comment: Google is used to being the market leader… it is practically a verb. Was it smarting from the insult of not being the big kahuna (reputation wise) of experimentation?
Dennis van der Heijden, Convert’s CEO, says,
This isn’t completely out of the blue either. Our source at Google dropped the A-bomb (as in acquisitions) while denying any knowledge of Google Optimize sunsetting and sagely (we agree) asking us to follow their legitimate PR channels.
Optimizely was acquired by Episerver which then took on the brand of its popular new addition. Furthermore, Optimizely has also raised 28 million dollars in funding, with Google Ventures being one of the investors. With closer ties thanks to their mutual cloud explorations, it may make a lot of sense for Google to just bring Optimizely into its fold and rule the roost.
I believe the GO 360 deals will be lobbed to Optimizely, with its superior support. What will happen to GO Free users… that’s up in the air!
- There were quite a few “heard similar” comments on Collin’s post. We started unraveling the threads. Apparently, another key change that’s happening for Google Optimize (in general) is the reduction of the run time of its tests.
The current standard is 90 days.
Given the fact that lots of websites with “low” traffic use Google Optimize, adding to the test duration to reach the required significance and power is already a subject of lively discussion. Resources are available trying to help optimizers get around the issue.
So guess what — the new limit is touted as being a measly 35 days.
We have to await confirmation on this, but one of the many implications is — sites with less than copious volumes of traffic will struggle to declare significant results in the updated runtime.
A ploy to push these users out? We don’t know.
Some may say that this shift is an attempt to keep the data clean, and you should not let an experiment run endlessly anyway (opportunity costs and all that). We get you.
But when taken with the rest of the context — it is telling.
Wrapping Stuff Up
It’s fun putting the pieces together. And imagining a market where the ubiquitous free tool no longer exists.
A quick peek at our Market Share App shows that some 286,533 domains worldwide have the GO snippet. It is significantly more than both Optimizely and VWO combined where pure numbers are concerned.
But most of the heavy lifting is from GO (free).
Optimizely on the other hand is victorious, even with its gated pricing and pricey contracts.
Add to that the various frustrations with GO (free), and the simmering sentiment that GO 360 isn’t updated enough (the last noted update was Feb 2022), is quite similar to GO (free), and simply removes the restrictions from simultaneous testing and goals – and any proposed future sunsets seem plausible.
Dennis summarizes things well, in terms of what A/B testing experts should do:
We have seen how Google sunsets go. There will probably be a decent heads up. The best I’ve heard is — the announcement will come sometime next year (2023).
GO 360 users should ask themselves: How would I feel shifting to Optimizely? They do have options in the form of solid tools like Kameleoon.
GO (free) users should reframe themselves to think of experimentation as a driver of strategy which requires good infrastructure — including paid apps — and start to look around for Google Optimize alternatives like Convert with features that support the natural maturation of their CRO programs at an affordable price point.
One of our power users, Ryan Levander, once said: “The quality of my life improved after using Convert Experiences. I spend a lot of time testing, and trying to figure out a way to hack Google Optimize wasn’t cutting it anymore.”
The hope here is all practitioners will get out of the “free tool” loop and match up with platforms that serve their unique needs — with basics like support in place. There is ultimately no such thing as free lunch.
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