Are you prepared for the future of Google Analytics? Google Analytics is constantly evolving and changing the measurement methodology. As a result, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest machine learning attributes, and changes in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of the platform.
One of the biggest changes to Google Analytics is the move to Google Analytics 4. GA4 is the new default for all standard universal analytics properties for all new accounts.
So, it’s important to understand how it works in order to make sure you’re prepared for the future of Google Analytics.
Table of Contents
What is Google Analytics 4?
GA 4 is the next generation of Google Analytics, focusing on modern measurement solutions. For example, engagement and conversion data, rather than traditional web analytics data.
GA4 also introduces several new changes, including:
- A new user-centric model that focuses on engagement and conversion and automatically surfaces critical insights.
- The ability to collect more easily observable data from any digital touchpoint, including web, mobile, and offline
- A redesigned interface that makes it easy to understand and use GA4 data
- Funnels and paths allow you to better understand how users interact with your site or app
- Enhanced flexibility and control over how data is collected and processed
- Predictive insights that can help you anticipate future trends and user behavior
If you’re not familiar with GA4, or if you’re just getting started with it, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to know.
Be sure to check it out so that you can be prepared for the current Google Analytics. This will enable you to make better data-driven decisions for better product management.
GA4: Next Generation of Google Analytics Universal
The current Google Analytics was built for a different time. Times have changed, hence the need for a more advanced version. Google Analytics 4 is built on a new foundation that will power the future of Google Analytics. This new foundation is user-centric and designed for cross-device measurement.
It also offers better protection of user data privacy and more insights into how users interact with your site or app.
GA4 builds on the success of the current Universal Analytics. It introduces a number of new features and changes that make it more powerful, flexible, and user-friendly.
- Remarkably, we now live in a world where:
- 80% of the world is online
- The average person has 3.6 connected devices
- 50% of all searches are done on mobile
Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) was built for this new world. It’s a complete rethinking of how Google Analytics works, and it’s designed to take advantage of all the new technologies that have emerged in recent years. That includes apps, the internet of things, and more. Unfortunately, due to this, people are becoming more aware of this intrusion into their private lives.
And this has necessitated new data privacy and data laws (like GDPR) that have made it necessary for Google to rethink how they access information.
To counter data misuse, people are blocking cookies at an alarming rate. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of people using ad blockers jumped from 11% to 15%. And it’s not just ad blockers.
In 2019, Safari introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which blocks cookies by default. As a result, the traditional Google Analytics cookie is now being blocked on over 50% of all web traffic.
This is a huge problem for Google Analytics because the traditional UA data cookie relies exclusively on first-party cookies. Without these cookies, GA can’t track visitors as they move from site to site, and it can’t track interactions that happen offline.
In response to this, they built GA4 with a new, user-centric measurement model that doesn’t rely on cookies. This data model tracks users across devices and platforms, even if they block cookies.
GA4 uses a concept called “events” to track user interactions. An event can be anything from a pageview to a sign-up, and it can happen on any digital touchpoint, including web, mobile, and offline. This event-based data model gives GA4 a huge advantage over the traditional Google Analytics cookie. It’s more accurate, it’s more reliable, and it’s more privacy-friendly.
When Did GA4 Come Out?
In October 2020, Google announced that GA4 would replace Universal Analytics as the default tracking code on new websites. And in March 2022, Google set the end date of Universal Analytics to July 1, 2023. After this date, GA 4 will be the only version operating, and the old GA will stop processing new hits.
What does this mean for sites, apps, and marketing activities?
Marketers using the traditional Google Analytics cookie must migrate their business to GA4 before July 1, 2023. By this date, Universal Analytics will stop processing new data. If they don’t, companies will lose all historical data, and you won’t be able to track any essential insights anymore.
The good news is that GA4 is already available, and you can start using it today.
Marketers not ready to migrate just shouldn’t worry. Google will continue to support the traditional Google Analytics cookie until the end date. But remember that GA4 will form the core of Google Analytics, and it’s designed to take advantage of all the new technologies that have emerged in recent years.
So if you’re not using GA4, you’re missing out on many great benefits in your business.
GA4 Vs. Universal Analytics
There are marked differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics:
The Data Model Is Completely Different
Universal Analytics relies on a pageview-based data model, but GA4 uses a user-centric model. That means GA4 can track data across devices and platforms, and it can even follow them offline for essential insights.
The Interface Is Completely Redesigned
Universal Analytics can be confusing for people who are new to it. The interface and the tutorial language may appear cryptic to some people. But with the right copywriting tips, you’re good to go. In contrast, the GA4 has a much simpler interface that makes it easy to understand and use. For example, Testing & Conversion Tracking Is Built-in
A/B testing and conversion tracking are not available in Universal Analytics, but it’s included in GA4.
That means you can track conversions and test different variations of your site or app without having to install any additional code.
Universal Analytics was not designed with a privacy-first design, but they built GA4 from the ground up with privacy protections in mind. That means it’s more compliant with privacy controls and regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
A Focus on Engagement and Conversion Data
GA4 introduces a new model focusing on engagement and conversion data to deliver user-centric measurement to website owners.
GA4 includes Funnels and Paths that allow you to better understand how users interact with your site or app.
Enhanced Flexibility and Control
GA4 offers enhanced flexibility and control over how data is collected and processed.
GA4 predictive analytics that can help you anticipate future trends and user behavior
User Privacy and Customization
GA4 is designed with users’ privacy in mind, and it offers a number of customization options to help you protect your customers’ data.
How to Migrate to GA4
Chances are that if you’re still using Universal Analytics, you’ve received several email notifications from Google so far. The fact is, if you do not migrate to GA4 before July 1, 2023, you will lose out. All your historical data will disappear, and you won’t be able to access or track any new data.
So how do you migrate?
The first step is to create a new GA4 property. You can do this by going to your Google Analytics account and choosing the “Create Property” option.
Once you’ve created your GA4 property, you’ll need to get the tracking code and add it to your website or app. The code differs from the Universal Analytics code, so make sure you add the correct one. Once you’ve added the GA4 code to your site, you can start tracking data immediately. But remember that GA4 is a completely new product, so it’s important to take some time to learn how it works and how to use it effectively.
But that aside, setting this new property doesn’t imply you prematurely lost the old one. Both will continue collecting data and are under your control.
To make the transition process easier, Google has provided a GA4 set-up Assistant Wizard to help you with the migration process. The wizard will guide you through the steps of creating your new GA4 property and adding the tracking code to your site.
The set-up assistant is a great way to get started with GA4, but keep in mind that it’s just a starting point. There’s a lot to learn about GA4, and you’ll need to experiment with it to get the most out of it.
Here is Why You Should Migrate to Google Analytics 4
If you’re still using Universal Analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of benefits that GA4 has to offer.
And If you’re just starting with Google Analytics, that is even better for you. It’s the future of the platform, and it is advisable to build your business on the more innovative tool.
Here are a few of its merits below.
AI-Enabled Insights and Forecasts
GA4 uses Google’s machine learning technology to provide insights and forecasts that can help you make better decisions about your marketing and business.
Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Tracking
GA4 can track information across devices and platforms, which helps you get a complete picture of your customer’s journeys.
Enhanced Flexibility and Control
The new property offers enhanced flexibility and control over how data is collected and processed, which gives you more control over your data and your privacy.
Improved User Experience
GA4 features a redesigned interface that is simpler and easier to use, making it more user-friendly. For example, the new reporting interface makes it easier to find and understand the data which makes it possible to leave essential insights.
GA4 provides multi-channel attribution, which allows you to attribute conversions to the various channels that users interact with.
GA4 features predictive analytics that can help you anticipate trends, which can help you make better decisions about your marketing and optimize campaigns
User Privacy and Customization
GA4 is designed with user privacy in mind, and it offers a number of customization options to help you protect data.
Free Integration With BigQuery
GA4 offers a free integration with BigQuery, Google’s cloud data warehouse. This allows you to store your GA4 data in BigQuery and perform advanced analyses on it.
Deeper Google Ads Integration
GA4 offers deeper integration with Google Ads, which allows you to better understand and optimize your campaigns.
Better Cross-Device Visualization
GA4 offers improved cross-device visualization, which makes it easier to understand how users interact with your site or app across devices.
Important Tips for upgrading to GA4
There are a few important things to keep in mind when upgrading to GA4
- Add the GA4 code to your site: The first step is to add the GA4 code to your site. You can find the code in the admin section of your GA account.
- Set up data collection: Once you’ve added the GA4 code to your site, you must set up data collection. You can do this in the admin section of your GA account.
- Set up goals: Once you’re through with the data gathering step, you can then set up goals. Goals allow you to track conversions and other important events on your website or app.
- Test your implementation: Once you’ve set up data collection and goals, you should test your implementation to ensure everything is working correctly.
- Migrate your Universal Analytics properties: If you’re using Universal Analytics, you’ll need to migrate your properties to GA4. You can do this in the admin section of your GA account.
- Start using GA4: Once you’ve migrated your properties, you can use GA4 to collect data and track conversions. You can access the GA4 interface in the admin section of your GA account.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on upgrading to GA4 and taking advantage of all the cool features it offers.