Introducing Google Analytics 4 (Codename: GA4)
Google Analytics has earned its stripes as a strategic and important digital performance marketing tool since 2005. Businesses who utilise Analytics as part of their digital strategy have, at their fingertips, the ability to measure the success of their websites and track the results of their ad campaigns in real-time, with the added advantage of comparing the data to previous time periods.
Analytics has completely revolutionized the digital discipline of Performance Marketing. Monitoring all platforms gives the digital marketer, on behalf of their client, immense power to review what is working well, fix and optimise what is not, and maximise the overall strategy for success.
According to Forbes, “50% of businesses say big data analytics have fundamentally changed business practices in their sales and marketing departments.”
Up until October 2020, Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 3 (GA3) was the de facto standard for digital analysts and marketers, but in mid-October 2020, Google launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – making it possible to view both web and app data in a single property. In other words, GA4 is specifically designed to provide additional flexibility in the way you collect data, interpret audience behaviour and track user actions on your website and in your app – blending online and offline reporting in one report.
The motivation behind this next generation of Google Analytics is to offer a unified infrastructure for user-centric Analytics across app and web for all clients.
Why is GA4 considered the future of Analytics?
- Firstly, it is built with Google’s machine learning at its core which will enable it to uncover insights from your data that will improve and optimise marketing performance.
- Secondly, it offers a more comprehensive understanding of your customer’s journey across devices by consolidating data on app and web.
- Thirdly, it is built to be durable, future-proof and to scale with your business.
What are some of the new GA4 features?
- Instead of being built around pageviews as in GA3, GA4 is built around a flexible events structure where you can send all different types of information to your reports. This also means you can modify and collect events conversions without writing code.
- Cross-domain measurement can be set up within the UI to track and measure a user’s journey across domains (again, without writing code).
- New lifecycle reporting means reporting is simplified and based around the user’s lifecycle and it has been expanded to include eCommerce reporting with templates.
- Migration tools such as Get Started Wizard and Setup Assistant automate the GA4 setup process in just a few clicks and offer tools and resources.
What about Universal Analytics (aka GA3)?
Change is hard, and so you can breathe a sigh of relief that Google Analytics 3 is still relevant and not yet ready to be relegated to the Digital Historical Hall of Fame.
For now, it is advisable to get started with a dual set up within Universal Analytics and leverage some of the advancements that GA4 offers. This will give you access to the advanced reporting features. Although it might not initially enhance your reporting, it will give you time to analyse and familiarise yourself with its features and how they may work for you and your client going forward.
Although GA4 may outshine GA3 by offering flexible data collection, ad-hoc reporting, cross-domain tracking and automatic tracking, it cannot yet implement other permanent filters, or do e-commerce reporting properly, and you can only make limited changes to the attribution model used for your reports.
There is no denying that Google Analytics 4 is a significant update, and in the months and years ahead it will continue to be developed and enhanced. So, start making friends with it, become familiar with its features, and start testing how it complements and positively adds to your current Universal Analytics reporting.
Google Analytics 4 is definitely the future of Analytics, so at some point, you will need to jump on the GA4 bandwagon, but right now, there is no need to throw out the GA3 baby with the bathwater.
Why PREBO Digital?
PREBO Digital is a Performance-driven Marketing Agency and our finger is on the pulse when it comes to changes on the evolving digital landscape. As partners in growing your business or brand, we are committed to optimising your online marketing strategy by blending innovation, expertise and efficiency.
If you are needing further clarification of how GA4 will affect your business, how to navigate the transition from Universal Analytics, or how to implement both, we are here to help and advise you.