Come 2023, we bid adieu to Universal Analytics and gear up for Google Analytics 4, the post-cookie, cross-channel future of measurement.
According to Google’s latest announcement (as of March 16, 2022), Universal Analytics will phase out on July 1, 2023. It will stop processing new hits, while the more recent Universal Analytics 360 properties shall stop tracking impacts on October 1, 2023. Once the processing of hits has ceased, the previously processed data in Universal Analytics will be kept for at least six months to get your ducks in a row before Google shuts it off completely.
Now that we know the expiration date of Universal Analytics, let us look at the following steps on how to move forward with Google Analytics 4. Unlike the smooth transition from Classic Analytics to Universal Analytics, where Google updated the code on the backend, transitioning to GA4 requires you to remodel your analytics strategy and setup.
GA4s data model differs entirely from Universal Analytics’ data model, with GA4 focussing on events and parameters. Implementing Google Analytics can take several months to plan, organize, and implement, requiring multiple rounds of QA to ensure the tracking data is being used correctly and GA4 is building the reports you want and need. Since you have 15 months to prepare for it, why must you start now?
The sunsetting of Universal Analytics is a significant event for every website owner, analyst, and digital marketer. GA4 is a more future-proof tool than Universal Analytics, built on modern technology and grounded in a thoughtful, logical, and structured data schema.
It is the right time to conduct the groundwork, collect data, and get used to the new features of GA4. Google Analytics 4 focuses on user privacy, with Google citing multiplatform journeys as the reasons to pull the plug on UA.
Universal Analytics measures desktop web, independent sessions, and more observable data from cookies. Unlike UA, GA4 works on an event-based model that tracks and measures insights and data across websites and applications that don’t require cookies.
GA4 utilizes data-driven attribution and assigns credit to factors that allow marketers to gain insights and influence various initiatives on boosting conversions. GA4 facilitates brand compliance with privacy laws through its forward-looking approach of not maintaining IP addresses.
Google Analytics 4 – The New Normal
Google Analytics 4 neatly wraps everything Universal Analytics offers with enhanced improvements. The prime reason for Google to move on from UA is its inability to deliver cross-platform insights with GA4 measuring data across websites and apps.
While machine learning-based insights in Analytics have been around for some time, GA4 is equipped with newer Artificial Intelligence-based insights and predictions that automatically alert marketers about growing trends and demands for a specific product. The enhanced analytics feature allows business owners to anticipate and predict bounce rates and divert their attention to higher-value audiences.
GA4 is integrated with other Google services, such as Google Ads, allowing you to generate and maintain audiences and users on the web and in the application. Google Analytics 4 captures insights and reports views on YouTube in apps and the web.
The prime difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the organization of reports based on customer lifecycle tracking specific aspects of the customer journey. GA4 allows you to see the channels generating new customers in its user acquisition report. The engagement and retention reports enable users to predict and prepare for customer actions.
Transitioning to Google Analytics 4 offers a comprehensive view of customer behavior and interactions with specific businesses across devices and channels. GA4 eliminates code implementation for real-time event tracking and action measurements like scrolling an event or video playback.
Google Analytics 4 focuses on user privacy and data collection, offering more specific user data control. GA4 allows marketers to comply with GDPR and CCPA regulations by featuring a consent mode designed for sites requiring end-user consent to collect analytics data. GA4 provides separate consent options for analytics and ads.
Advantages of GA4
Let us take a look at the advantages GA4 has to offer:
- GA4 provides a comprehensive view of a customer life cycle using a measurement model unaffected by organized or independent sessions.
- The attribution process credits to more than the last click offering insights to marketers regarding activities that influence conversions.
- Machine learning provides predictive insights about consumer behavior resulting in enhanced conversions and focussing on prospective customers.
- Integration of Google products such as Google Ads enhances the functionality of GA4, offering unparalleled insights that optimize ad campaigns.
- GA4 is designed to drive sales or app installs, generate leads, and boost online and offline customer engagement.
- GA4 is built for businesses to meet ever-growing user expectations with better data collection and usage controls.
A Comprehensive Guide To Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 is designed to offer advertisers around the globe to analyze customer usage metrics complying with the latest generation of web analytics platforms. GA4 provides interactive report functions, enhanced features, and predictive analytics making it the most advanced future-proof analytical solution.
Google Analytics 4 is the replacement for Universal Analytics, designed to enhance customer privacy and overall customer experience. The need for GA4 was derived from UA’s limited ability only to support website analytics GA4, on the other hand, enables you to report on websites and applications alike.
GA4 utilizes a new measurement model used for events and parameters, whereas UA focuses more on sessions and pageviews. The new metrics used by GA4 include engagement metrics focussing on sessions, rate, and time.
Universal Analytics required manual processes to access data when users were active on more than one platform leading to more time and effort investment. The new Google Analytics 4 automatically tracks web and app data in one property generating unparalleled SEO traffic and streamlined content marketing.
Cross-platform tracking enables marketers to track the customer journey from acquisition to engagement, monetization, and retention across multiple channels and platforms. GA4 utilizes unique user ID assignments during app or website login; using the suitable gtag.js script associated with the user IDs, the data from each logged-in session will be sent from the website or the application to Google Analytics
The unique user ID reports to GA4 and logs any metric associated with the login. Once the user logs in on another platform, the reports aim to connect the user’s data by compiling it using the unique IDs allowing GA4 to pick up where it left off.
As a marketer, you can use this data to understand customer behavior and cross-platform experience to gain insights into a generalized demographic. The GA4 reports empower marketers to build more accurate customer models.
Everything Measured Is an Event
Universal Analytics considers page views as the most critical metric. It tracks all hit metrics such as screen time, events, and transactions offering a myopic view of customer experience.
Google Analytics 4 considers everything measurable as an event. GA4 collects and stores all user interactions as separate events and session-level reporting. The ability to break the reporting down by interaction offers an in-depth understanding to marketers of customer interaction.
Where UA provided an overview of the generalized data, GA4 offers a comprehensive understanding of your users, enabling you to target specific customer segments.
Assessing customers’ past behavior can help you understand your audience, but it fails to assist you in making proactive decisions. GA4 is equipped with predictive metrics enabling you to make data-driven decisions on a larger scale.
Predictive analytics enables businesses to maximize the effectiveness of their retargeting campaigns by using metrics such as purchase probability, churn probability, and revenue prediction.
Along with ensuring the success of your retargeting campaign, these metrics enhance your website performance. You can create audiences based on their predictive behaviors by targeting them using active Google Ads campaigns or social media.
Where UA suffers from a lack of user control and customization possibilities, GA4 is more flexible, allowing users to create their dashboards, see the reports of their choice, and create custom visualizations of the data collected using Google Data Studio.
How to Set Up Google Analytics 4
Let us walk you through the two types of GA4 setup processes:
Alongside an Existing Property
If you are trying to set up Google Analytics 4 alongside your Universal Analytics property for your website, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Choose the desired account from the Account column.
- Click “Admin” on the lower left of the screen in Google Analytics.
- From the Property Column, select GA4 Setup Assistant
- Select “Get Started” under “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.”
- If your site uses the gtag.js tag, select “Enable data collection using your existing tags.”
- Click “Create Property.”
If the “Enable data collection using your existing tags” doesn’t work, there could be three underlying reasons:
- Your website is tagged with analytics.js.
- Your website builder/CMS doesn’t yet support the gtag.js tag.
- You use Google Tag Manager.
Google Analytics for Firebase
The steps to upgrade your Firebase account to Google Analytics 4 include:
- Log in to the Firebase console.
- Go to Analytics > Dashboard on the left panel.
- Click “Begin upgrade” in the banner at the top of the page.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the upgrade.
Once you are through the setup process, you can find app analytics in the Firebase console and Google Analytics.
The new age of Google Analytics 4 offers total control over the cross-channel view of the customer life cycle, combined with predictive marketing functions, offering more efficient ways to streamline conversion rates.
Google’s latest announcement declaring the sunset date for Universal Analytics as July 1, 2023, gives business owners, advertisers, and marketers ample time to adjust to the shifting analytics landscape.
Google Analytics 4 promises to transform data processing from collection to activation. The latest analytics upgrade indicates tectonic shifts in user behavior, market player policies, and frameworks. Adopting GA4 can accelerate digital transformation to data-based structures, decision-making, and processes.
The digital era that intertwines machine learning with audience-based vision and direct data activation is the analytical need that GA4 aims to fulfill. To reap the comprehensive benefits of GA4 in terms of automated insights, easy activation, and measurement continuity, finish setting up your GA4 property right away. We encourage you to share your thoughts/concerns regarding this dramatic shift in the analytics ecosystem in the comments below.