Google Analytics 4
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Google Analytics 4 is here. Indeed, in July this year the current Google analytics data will stop processing and there will be only a limited time to access the data. The data will then only flow into the new Google Analytics 4 platform. In a year of big change for analysing key marketing information we briefly reflect on what we can expect from the new system.
So Why The Change?
Certainly the landscape of information has changed significantly over recent years. There is increased need for more flexible data and reliable measurement. From a Google perspective the move to Analytics 4 (GA4) is an attempt to help businesses understand the complex, multi-platform journey of their customers whilst also prioritising privacy. The new system is also built to provide a more robust analytics experience, helping businesses succeed now and in the future. As such the old universal analytics model is approaching its sunset. For many it will be goodbye to an old, reliable friend. In truth, as Google themselves explained, this old system “was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web.”
There is the usual traffic information around sources, location and referrals but there will be less reliance on cookies. Indeed GA4 will not even store IP addresses reflecting a more modern take in international data privacy. The tracking of data will be much re-imagined allowing the user to better understand how visitors interact with their website. There is much more focus on how users interact with your content. Significantly, this will be done across platforms, merging for example data taken from apps with website activity. Customised reports require more user input initially but ultimately lead to a better outcome. Another great feature is that the system is packed with artificial intelligence. There is advanced modelling to predict the future as well as anomaly detection to analyse the right now. There is also expanded integration with other Google products like Google Ads which allows insights that could optimise your campaigns.
Issues & Advice
The likely issues for new users of GA4 go well beyond that of training and adjusting to a new system. Few like change and fundamentally there is an issue of lack of comparison with historical data. This will be a major concern for many. Surprisingly, initially, there was a lack of site speed data and some confusion over the importance of bounce rate data. There is also likely to be a need for new business KPIs as the information gets more detailed and complex. Indeed businesses will be faced with handling unprecedented levels of data. The whole vocabulary around website visitor data is likely to change and may take some time to fully understand. As such early adopters are likely to get both early pain and early gain as Google makes this significant switch. One benefit of getting in early (we started in April 2022) is to build up historical data before we lose access to the old platform.
Change is coming. The sunset is near. We plan to get on board the GA4 train and ride it all the way to Useful-Info Town! We suggest you do the same.