“It’s our best analytics version ever!”
Chances are you won’t hear Google CEO Sundar Pichai leap on stage and blare that out. However, you will
hear Google recommendations far and wide that, if you’re a Google Analytics user, you should make the switch to Google Analytics 4, if you haven’t already.
So, why now? Why the urgency? And what should you know before making the move to Google Analytics 4?
The times, they are a-changing,
goes the Bob Dylan song goes. As does the world of e-commerce, user behavior, online tracking, privacy, analysis, reporting, and whatnot. In a nutshell, what was good for yesterday’s version of Google Analysis and its users is less applicable to today’s world. More importantly, it needed restructuring, if you will, to keep providing marketers with valuable data and analytics under a changing, and challenging, climate.
Users all over the world are going on a “cookie diet” – not touching third-party cookies over privacy concerns, and until recently that would pose a problem for user tracking. However, one of the benefits of Google Analytics 4 is that greatly reduces dependency on third-party cookies for that goal, instead opting for other measures that will meet the privacy concerns of users and international regulations, while retaining the ability to effectively yield results.
It’s important to remember that Google Analytics 4 signifies a shift to a unified platform that will allow you to track both engagement and traffic on your website, as well as any apps that your organization may use. These analytics can be used to influence and ensure that your digital presence delivers results. GA4 will be the default option for tracking starting 1 July 2023.
5 Key points to know before upgrading to Google Analytics 4:
- Google Analytics 4 users an overhauled system of data structure and data collection. Instead of grouping user interactions in a specific time frame in a session-based model, it’s going to process each user interaction as a standalone event in a session-based model.
- Bye-bye (third-party) cookies: Due to privacy concerns, and because more users are ditching them anyway (call it a ‘privacy diet’), Google is eliminating third-party cookies, and permitting only first-party cookies in this version of Google Analytics, using other means such as sophisticated AI tools to efficiently measure user engagements, conversions, and other useful data. Also, GA will not store a user’s IP address
- Revamped metrics measurement system: Whereas UA used sessions and pageviews-based tracking, GA4 measures events-based data. There are 4 types of events in Google Analytics 4: Custom events, recommended events, enhanced measurement events, and automatically collected events.
- Web & mobile data are now combined in one place: The new events-based approach allows standardized data collection from multiple platforms, improving the quality and providing the user with a single report instead of multiple.
- Reorganized reporting – GA4 gives you more options for reporting the way you want, instead of predefined reporting templates. New benefits: Learn more about your customer journey, get more value from your data, have deeper integration with Google Ads, and reorganized reporting.
People who are just signing up for Google Analytics will automatically join the new version. But, if you’ve been using a previous version, you’ll be needing to move all your previous “belongings” to GA 4. And because you can’t just copy/paste,
Google Analytics 4 will offer a completely different data collection structure: For instance, it will replace bounce rate metrics with engagement rate. It has more measurement tools ‘as is’ such as scrolling, outbound link clicks, document link clicks, website searches, and pathways to visualize the customer journey.
Complying with data regulations. GA4 makes it easier for users to ask for the removal of their data. Smart insights take advantage of machine learning to detect trends.
Some people upgrade at the first opportunity. Those are usually the ones “rewarded” with bugs and disappearing files. Others take the safe approach and wait a year or so, for the product to be polished. And then there are those users who lag, ready to move on only when absolutely, positively, drag-me-by-the-keyboard is necessary. If you’re one of those and have not upgraded yet to Google Analytics 4 or feel comfortable with the version of GA you’re using now, guess what – it’s time to pack up, because soon (as of July 1st,
2023, to be precise), you’ll have no choice. And lest you think that you’ll be one of the very
stubborn ones who’ll stick even longer with the previous version, Google has already cautioned that for those with the previous version, its history will be lost.
The new version of Google Analytics, with its advanced integration and analysis capabilities, will undoubtedly help provide us with much more in-depth insight and help us achieve an even deeper understanding of our interested audience; will help us optimize it better and build it in a more specific way, more personalized content, etc., which, in the end, is a better return on investment than the entire marketing expenses.
Remember, you have until the end of December 2023 to download any historical data from your current Google Universal Analytics platform. You won’t be able to import data from previous versions of GA, as the structure, data collection method, and metrics are all different.
Sounds complicated? The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own – our analytics experts here at Xtra Mile can help you make the switch to Google Analytics 4 with ease. Make the move today, so that by July 2023, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is which beach to go to.