An Introduction To Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 is here, but what is it, how does it differ to Universal Analytics, and what do you need to do to prepare? We outline the basics.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the next generation of Google Analytics. It replaces the existing version of Google Analytics, known as Universal Analytics, and has a different interface and features. Google Analytics allows you to collect data about traffic and engagement across your website or app, giving you a clear picture of performance, traffic drivers, conversions and more.
Why is Google Analytics changing?
Universal Analytics has been around for many years, and when it was originally built it was centred around desktop website visits and cookie measurements. Now, more people are visiting websites from mobile devices, user behaviour has changed over time, and Google Analytics needs to change too in order to be as useful as possible for marketers. Another thing that has changed is reliance on cookies as a method of gathering data. As users’ concerns over privacy have mounted, companies have looked to move away from it and GA4 therefore does not rely exclusively on cookies. Instead, it uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement, and machine learning to fill in data gaps.
What is the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4?
Aside from moving away from cookies, there are plenty of other changes to see in the new Google Analytics. It offers more granular controls for data collection and usage, and to comply with today’s privacy expectations, it does not store IP addresses.
You’ll notice that GA4 looks very different to its predecessor, so it will take some time to find your way around and get used to everything. Here are some of the changes:
- Data is event-based instead of session-based, with page views, transactions and social interactions unified under the “events” umbrella
- It offers helpful behavioural and conversion modelling
- Direct integrations to media platforms can drive actions on your website
- It collects both website and app data to understand the full customer journey
- It features new views for reporting in the “Analysis Hub” with increased customisation
Ultimately, GA4 is an entirely new analytical tool that approaches data differently – hopefully for the better as you get to know it. Find out more about GA4.
When will you need to make the switch to GA4?
GA4 is here already, so you can start using it as soon as you like – and the sooner, the better. Universal Analytics will no longer process data from 1st July 2023. While you will be able to view your Universal Analytics reports and data for a certain amount of time after this date (at least six months according to Google), any new data will only appear in GA4 properties.
What do you need to do?
If you haven’t already set up GA4 for your website, it’s important that you do so as soon as possible. GA4 is already here so you can start using it straight away, and the sooner you set it up, the more data you’ll have available to you after the deadline. It isn’t a case of GA4 suddenly being available, but Universal Analytics going away – so if you want to be ready, armed with data and not scrambling around, it’s important to act now if you haven’t already.
If you don’t currently use Google Analytics at all, you can get started by setting it up for the first time here. If you are currently using Universal Analytics, you can add GA4 alongside Universal Analytics. You can also add GA4 to a platform or CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, Shopify, Magento and others.
If you would like help with any aspect of your digital marketing, get in touch with Square Media.