For over 15 years Google has had a solution for website analytics. Their first iteration in 2005 might have been basic but over the decades, the solution has become better and more complex. In 2012, Universal Analytics(GA3) was launched, introducing cross-platform tracking, custom dimensions and metrics and a whole lot of other revolutionary components. With the launch of Google Analytics 4 in 2020, upwards of approx. 60% of the analytics industry users were expecting alot. GA4 is full of new features, smart with the help of artificial intelligence, scalable with countless integrations and still free. Now that the deprecation of Universal Analytics has been announced (summer 2023), lots of you might be wondering what to do next. I want to tell you about what GA4 has to offer and what to consider when migrating.
Before I go into any of the benefits of Google Analytics 4, it is important to ask yourself the following questions in regards to the legal implications:
- Am I subject to GDPR and/or any national data privacy ordinances?
- Does the information being collected about users contain personally identifiable information like IP Addresses?
If you are subject to GDPR or any other local ordinance that dictates how data can be legally collected and stored, then it is important to have you or your legal team review these guidelines and move forward accordingly. Conforming to GDPR includes the following key points: Consent is requested and granted from users before any data is collected and personal information collected is stored securely in the EU.
If you are happy to move forward with GA4, then enjoy a short read about what you can expect when using the tool:
Google Analytics 4 comes with a lot of features that are powerful and intelligent. One will confront you from the very start; enhanced measurement, an easy to use datastream option that will collect pageviews, scrolls, outbound links, site search, downloads and video engagement automatically. Another fantastic feature that was not possible in the previous version of GA is the ability to track both apps and websites together in one property.
GA4 also offers a new-generation of features that use machine learning to give you the best insights. For example their predictive metrics that include purchase and churn probability as well as revenue prediction can open a world of possibilities for you and your business. These features can also alert you on significant trends that might be developing without your knowledge.
New data model
GA4 is not only collecting data differently, it also serves it up differently; without sampling and in easier to understand and customized graphs. The new data model is based on events and only events. UA’s data model compiled of separated pageviews and events is left in the past. This switch in the data collection is the main reason why historical data cannot be transferred from your UA to your GA4 property.
Google’s developers have put a lot of effort into visualizing and analyzing the customer journey. The event-driven data model makes it easier to put together the steps a user took on your website and/or app over the course of some hours, days or months and on different devices. This holistic approach allows for a better understanding of the data and in turn a better ROI.
Using machine learning in data analysis is nothing new but with growing data sets from multiple sources, GA4 is making a good case for its use. The integration of BigQuery, Google’s multi cloud data warehouse, offers users of GA4 a taste of big data analytics and this offering could be revolutionary for small and medium sized companies alike.
Google Ads also received a deeper integration with GA4 and now you will be able to create audiences from your website and app data to target users with more relevant and engaging content. Salesforce and other CRMs(customer resource management) can also be integrated as well as the usual social media platforms.
With the Universal Analytics end-of-life set to Summer 2023, it is important to act now and take the next steps towards your next analytics collection tool. This being said, it can be a turning point in regards to your data collection strategy. If you wish to stay with Google and accept the risks of not being compliant with local data privacy laws, a switch to GA4 is the right move but if you are ok with moving away from Google, then there are a several great tools out there that offer a similar power to Google Analytics 4, while being compliant with current data privacy laws such as GDPR.
Our team of analytics specialists would be happy to support you with your next move. Get into contact if you have any questions about GA4 and its functionalities as well as if you are thinking of moving to an alternative.