Once a year Google hosts a summit for organizations who are Google Partners with staff who retain a Google Analytics personal certification – including T4G Ltd.
The purpose of the summit is to let Google Partners know what changes Google has coming up in relation to their suite of products (Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Data Studio, and Google Optimize), and for Google to hear from us, their partners. Most of the updates covered in the conference are confidential until released for beta or public use, but I can disclose that I arrived with a blank notebook and returned with around 40 pages of notes!
During the four days spent at the conference, Google asked for feedback from everyone ranging from direct clients (who are the end users) to analysts (who help clients make the most of their Google products). Google isn’t asking for feedback just to be nice – they actually implement the changes we suggest, improving their products for the people who use them. Changes such as:
- Colour coding on the icons used to reference triggers for each tag in Google Tag Manager. This feature had been available in the past, and is now back by popular demand
- Implementation of ‘workspaces’ based on user feedback on the difficulties resulting from multiple people creating and publishing tags
I’ve been lucky enough to attend this summit three times. The first was more than 10 years ago when Google Analytics was on a much smaller scale and the event was hosted in Mountain View, CA. It was amazing to see the environment where the Googlers made their magic happen. The last two summits I attended, in 2015 and 2017, were held in downtown San Francisco at hotels large enough to house Google’s many partners and clients from around the world.
This year I flew to San Francisco a few days early and had a chance to get acquainted with the city. A tour through the Japanese Tea Garden, a drive to Half Moon Bay, and a boat tour of the bay (which, looking out at the water looks strikingly like Halifax) were a few of the many things I squeezed into my visit.
The official summit took place over two days, and two additional conferences – Women in Analytics and Optimize and Tag Manager Immersion Day – took place on the days before and after. I jumped at the invite and secured a spot at each of these limited-seating events.
Women in Analytics
Women in Analytics was held at the Google offices in San Francisco. Upon arriving I had some time to chat one on one with a couple of Digital Analysts, one from Germany and one from the Ukraine. It was fascinating meeting other women with jobs like mine, with similar clients and challenges.
Once the conference began, a panel of women across various departments at Google – engineers, developers, and department leads – spoke about their roles and the challenges they face as women in a male-dominated work environment. When the audience was invited to ask the panel questions, many of them asked for advice on overcoming being treated differently because of their gender. It’s unfortunate that this is still an issue in 2017. The women on the panel and in the audience discussed that this is a global issue and offered support and advice on how to address different situations. Some interesting statistics that were mentioned included:
- When job hunting, women typically apply for jobs when they meet 99% of the criteria in a job posting, vs men who typically apply when they meet 60% of the criteria
- There are many job opportunities which can be missed out on by not taking a chance when the job descriptions don’t exactly match your current skillset
- Speak up within the first 20 minutes of a meeting, as you’re less likely to interject later in the meeting
The Summit Begins
The hotel was buzzing with hundreds of people wearing the orange lanyards indicating their status as Google Partners. Each lanyard had a pin to represent the country the partner had travelled from. Seeing fellow Canadians was nice, and knowing which countries other partners were from made for a good ice breaker. The Googlers in attendance wore white lanyards and chatted with attendees throughout the event. They wanted to get to know us and hear how we’re using their products and were constantly asking for any feedback we had or issues we may have come across.
Breakfast and lunch was provided in large banquet rooms for attendees. This was a nice opportunity to network and chat, and the rooms were never silent or short of conversation.
Several sessions were held simultaneously, and choosing which to attend was (as always) a challenge. I selected a good balance of interesting speakers, topics applicable to current/future projects and clients.
Demo Alley – a space to use and preview updated products with the engineers who worked on them – was a perfect way to get caught up on changes which weren’t covered in sessions and provide my input on how I would apply product changes to my daily tasks. The engineers were there to demo, help, and ask for feedback.
Google isn’t asking for feedback just to be nice – they actually implement the changes we suggest, improving their products for the people who use them.
Optimize and Tag Manager Immersion Day
This last event was held on the final day at the Google offices in San Francisco. Teams of Googlers hosted the event and were available to talk all day. Less structured than the two-day summit, it brought out some friendly rivalry between teams.
Half of the day was dedicated to Google Tag Manager and the other half to Google Optimize. A good portion of the speakers were users who had case studies of how they applied the tools to solve complex business decisions. Speakers shared challenges they faced along the way and tips on how they overcame them. The audience asked peer-to-peer questions and had discussions after each talk.
While one team was hosting their speakers, the other team had ‘office hours’ and were open to discussing products.
Although I was sad to see the summit and additional sessions end, my brain was spinning for the entire four days of the event, thinking of practical applications for the information I was receiving. I’m anxiously waiting for some of these fantastic features to be released.