For anyone who relies on Google Analytics to track user activity on a website or mobile app, you may already be aware of the imminent arrival of Google Analytics 4. However, what may be less obvious is what impact this arrival will really have and what you need to do to be ready.
First, a bit of background…
GA4 is the fourth version of the popular web analytics platform and takes over from the outgoing third generation, ‘Universal Analytics’. GA4 has already been available to use for a couple of years – whilst Google has been developing it – but, the transition will become complete on 1st July 2023 when Universal Analytics is finally put to rest. At that time, Universal Analytics will stop collecting any data and GA4 will become your sole option for Google Analytics tracking.
GA4 is a step-change in the way your data is constructed, measured and reported. It offers new and improved features for tracking user behaviour and measuring website performance. But, in order for this to work best for your website, it will require some preparation!
Six core benefits
Once GA4 is up and running, it will deliver the following benefits:
1. Flexible Analysis
GA4 adds flexibility by simplifying the way your data is constructed, for example, stripping away the distinction between page views and events, and the rigidity of predefined dimensions. Instead, it uses simple pairings of ‘Events’ and ‘Parameters’ to capture user activity, with Events representing the actual hit/interaction, and Parameters the complimentary values and labels that can be sent with each hit.
2. Improved User-centric Tracking
GA4 introduces a new model for tracking user behaviour that focuses on user journeys rather than individual sessions. This allows you to get a better understanding of how users interact with your website over time and across multiple devices.
3. Enhanced Cross-platform Capabilities
With GA4, you can track user behaviour across multiple platforms, including web, mobile, and even offline. This means you can get a more comprehensive view of your audience and how they are engaging with your brand.
4. More Accurate Data Collection
GA4 uses a new event-based tracking system that allows for more accurate data collection and analysis. This means you can get more detailed insights into user behaviour and make more informed decisions.
5. Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities
GA4 comes equipped with advanced machine learning capabilities that allow you to identify patterns and trends in your data automatically. This can help you to uncover insights that you may have missed with other analytics tools.
6. Automatic Event Tracking
GA4 automatically collects data about more events out-of-the-box compared to Universal Analytics. While events such as outbound clicks, scrolls, site searches, form submissions, YouTube video interactions and file downloads previously needed additional configuration, these events are now tracked automatically.
So, who needs to act?
The great news is that, for those who haven’t already made the jump to GA4, Google is now in the process of automatically creating GA4 properties for you so that your tracking should continue. But, that doesn’t mean you can just sit back. For example, if you have had a Google Analytics plug-in installed on your site, this will need to be updated as soon as possible – so that data can start feeding through to this new version also.
Moreover, there is also still likely some additional work needed to be done to ensure a seamless transition in July. In particular, if:
– you use Google Tag manager
– you require customised tracking
– you connect Google Analytics to automated reporting systems (such as ‘Google Looker’)
– you want to have a better understanding of the additional data GA4 can track
Get ready for Google Analytics 4
Of course, we are not asking you to manage it yourself – that is what we are here for. So, if you think you may need help to get ready for Google Analytics 4, please get in touch.