Essentially, Google Analytics is a Google-owned platform that tracks, records, and breaks down your website’s key metrics. Through this service, you can determine how much traffic your website gets, where your users are coming from, how they’re interacting with your website while on it, and so much more.
So, Is Google Analytics Free?
Well, yes and no.
Google Analytics is what they call a “freemium” service, meaning that small businesses can use the service without paying a monthly charge, but if you want more advanced features or the ability to do more with the service, there is a recurring fee.
Now, brace yourself.
Unlike many freemiums, the price hike is pretty significant here, as Google Analytics 360 (formerly Google Analytics Premium) will cost you $150,000 dollars a year.
That’s a big price tag even if those features are really worth it.
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Luckily for many marketers at small and medium-sized businesses, the standard, free version of Google Analytics usually provides more than enough insight to successfully guide their marketing efforts. For large enterprise companies who need the extra capacity or reporting capabilities, however, the premium service has a lot to offer that can justify its high price tag.
Free vs. Paid Version
As we can expect based on the price difference, Google Analytics 360 comes with a vast array of additional features you can’t get with the standard version.
Still, more features doesn’t necessarily mean all of them will be useful to your specific needs, so before you make the investment for the premium service, here’s a breakdown of the key features, capabilities, and differences of the two versions:
Google Analytics Standard
The standard version of Google Analytics offers a lot of valuable analysis tools to help marketers gain a better idea of how users are interacting with their website.
Some of the most notable tools in the standard portal include:
Integration with AdWords, AdSense, Search Console, and DoubleClick AdExchange
Data Export & Tracking API
Of course, because it’s the standard version, some of these features do have limitations in terms of capacity and how much you can customize them to your needs. Some important limitations to note include:
Data Volume Capacity: Up to 10 Million Hits per month
Max Data Rows: 50,000 rows
Custom Variables: 5 slots
Custom Dimensions and Metrics: 20 of each
Data Freshness: 24+ hours
For smaller businesses, these capacity limitations might never be an issue while using Google Analytics, however, for larger enterprise companies, it can be easy to hit maximum capacity with the standard version alone.
Companies that are larger and have more data for the service to run through might benefit from the capabilities of Google Analytics 360.
Google Analytics 360
As one could expect, the premium version of Google Analytics goes far beyond what you receive with the free version.
With premium analytics, you receive a heap of additional features to help better collect, report, and analyze your data.
Rather than diving into each feature specifically(because we’d be here all day!), here is an overview of how these features work together to provide the following benefits to your marketing efforts that you won’t get with the basic version:
Higher Quality Data (& collect more of it!) - With 360, your data capacity extends from 10 million hits per month to 500 million hits per month. You’re also guaranteed 99.9% data accuracy and 98% data freshness of 4 hours or less. In other words, you can collect more accurate, current data in much higher volumes.
Improved Custom Data Collection - In addition to better data, 360 has more advanced capabilities in terms of how you can customized your data collection. The premium service allows you to have 50 custom variables, and 200 custom dimensions and metrics based on these variables. This provides a much more comprehensive look at the numbers that really matter to your audience.
Advanced Analytics - Capabilities like Data Driven Attribution modeling, integrations with DoubleClick Campaign Manager, and running your data through Google BigQuery, marketers can gain the valuable insight they need about their target audience with ease. These tools will help them better determine online behavior, how they’re interacting with the website, and even help define the buyer’s journey.
In addition to all these features, you also receive specialized support from a dedicated Google analytics account manager that will help implement the service, train your staff, and offer responsive support for any questions you may have while using your account.
So, Which Is Right For You?
While the capabilities of Google 360 are impressive, they might not be valuable to every marketer, or provide the ROI it needs to to justify the high price tag.
There are multiple factors to consider when assessing Google Analytics Standard or Google Analytics 360 for your organization.
If you don’t feel you’re website has enough hits to exceed the capacity, then the standard version might be better for you. If you’re in a larger organization with a lot of segmented, specific audiences you need reporting on, Google Analytics 360 could help you get the information you need.
All in all, it really depends on what details are most valuable to you (and what you’re willing to pay for them). If you really can’t decide, try out Google Analytics Standard, and upgrade if you feel you need that extra capacity and features.