GA4: NEW ANALYTICS, SAY WHAT?

Ga4 feature

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Are you feeling like you were just starting to get a handle on Universal Analytics and then Google changed it on you? Same, dude, same. We’ve done a deep dive, tested things out ourselves and we’re really enjoying the improvements. Like anything, it’ll take some getting used to. But we’re here to help you navigate the changes.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Google researched and really listened to their customers’ needs, ultimately deciding to make some changes. They wanted to create a better analytics experience to help increase ROI of a customer’s marketing efforts as well as tie all efforts into one spot — creating better integration between web and app tracking. The new Google Analytics is smarter, utilizing Machine Learning to give you better insight into your customer’s behavior. It’s also focused on privacy. With an ever changing landscape around cookies and restrictions, Google has found ways to allow a customer to gain insight even when a user has their cookies disabled.

Here are the other key features of Google Analytics 4:

  • Quicker integration with other Google products than was previously available, such as Google Ads and YouTube. This allows you to create reports and see information in one place.
  • Automatically collects events from basic user interactions (outbound clicks, scrolling, downloads, etc.), meaning you don’t need to add additional code for these events on your website or through Google Tag Manager.
  • Machine learning helps you model trends in your data to help predict customer behavior in the future, ultimately leading to better marketing decisions.
    • Simplified reporting — we all know getting reports created and seeing a behavior’s flow in Google Analytics has not been the most intuitive experience in the past. Google fixed that. This may be one of the trickier things to get used to but once you click around for a bit, you’ll see how much more intuitive the reporting really is. Overall, the structure is focused on events instead of pageviews, which gets you to the actions and conversions sooner. Plus, funnels are more customizable allowing the ability to create better audiences and segments.
  • Better management of how you collect and retain data as part of your account. This makes it easier to keep up with changes in data collection restrictions.
  • This GA version is built off of the Firebase Analytics backend, which makes it easier to track apps and web properties in one place.

TIMING

GA4 is now the recommended option for new properties created going forward. Google is only making enhancements and improvements here and no longer in Universal Analytics. They’re looking for a full roll-out to all accounts in the fall.

HOW TO SEAMLESSLY MAKE THE SWITCH?

The good thing is Google is giving you time to make the switch and start to test out the new features. Creating a GA4 property now will allow you to get used to the new layout and reporting, as well as start collecting data from this new property. The new custom events tracking will likely not pick up all of the custom events you are managing, so this will also give you time to add these custom events back in where needed.

Google has also set up a demo account for users to try out the new GA4 features before converting to the new platform. We would recommend trying out this demo and then setting up a new property in your own Google Analytics account to try out. Once you set up the property, you’ll need to add the gtag.js to your site (either through Google Tag Manager or directly to the site) then you should be good to start collecting data.

If you have any questions, we’re always here to help. Reach out to one of your friends at Shift to assist!

This article was written by Mackenzie Ostrem, Director of Client Solutions at Shift.