Back in October 2020, Google released its first highly anticipated decade-long upgrade of Google Analytics, entitled Google Analytics 4. At its core it see’s the amalgamation of two property types (Universal Analytics for measuring websites, and Google Analytics for mobile app activity) into one all-encompassing property type; Google Analytics 4 Properties.
This new generation of Google Analytics will allow businesses and website owners to gain a much more focused insight into website users and online prospect behaviours, through a much more enriched and data-providing interface. Google has updated, improved, and simplified its analytical software, aiming (and achieving!) to provide website owners with the most authentic analytical experience to date.
Along with this core analysis and UI update, Google has truly zoned in on its approach to Data Privacy and collection and has completely overhauled this in Google Analytics 4. It’s clear to see that Google has taken into consideration the extremely sensitive area of data privacy in today’s data landscape, where customers are much more sensitive to unnecessary data gathering and cloud storage.
As with many major improvement upgrades, previous generations unfortunately will be phased out. This is a sad and unfortunate realisation for all of us Google Analytics 3 lovers, but there is a shining light to the end of GA3, and this is the functionality, intelligence, and depth-of-data in GA4. So now really is the time to get the ball rolling by diving into exploring all about Google Analytics 4 and Google Analytics 4 Properties.
With this in mind, it’s also the perfect time to introduce GA4 into your website and code. Implementing this now will allow both GA4 and GA3 to work in tandem to process data points, until the eventual transition period of Google Analytics 4 takes full effect.
As with all new software upgrades, there are plenty of new features and benefits included. Google has stated that this new generation of Analytics (i.e. Google Analytics 4) has been designed specifically to help scale businesses, through deep data analysis and reporting to aid decision-making activities.
A key aspect of this is the new cross-device and platform tracking software, which allows for more precise user journeys to be established and recognised for PPC and audience-grouping.
In partnership with this, Google has stated that the new GA4 update will also utilise the latest Artificial Intelligence algorithms to help assist in creating deeper, more insightful, predictions of online consumer behaviour.
Now, let’s explore some of the other new features that Google is introducing with the new GA4 update:
As mentioned before, Google Analytics 4 has switched things up, with the integration of both Web and App Properties into a singular modular Property. This has allowed for a single user-journey to be cross-tracked along multiple devices into one event-based instance. This new singular event-based model of tracking can allow for more intelligent reporting of online customer behaviour, which can be fed straight into your marketing team's reports.
Google hopes that, in fully utilising this new feature, it can better provide businesses with customer-grouping activities. These activities can then be used to aid in constructing better customer- and buyer-personas for your marketing funnel.
Following on from our above point, a better understanding and reporting of customers who visit your website can allow you to create better audience groups for targeting and re-targeting. This can in turn be more profitable for your business, as these audience groups can be used directly in PPC and localised advertising. In conjunction with this, the new GA4 update can utilise its new Artificial Intelligence modelling to show predictive metrics of where potential revenue could be made from customer-groups – this is an asset that we think will be extremely valuable for business-growth!
Whilst a lot of the current UI has remained, some new reporting and visualisation functions are being introduced to the platform to simplify the experience. Amongst these new functions is the “Analysis Hub”, which features a template gallery of charts that you can create for a multitude of aspects, such as funnel analysis and segment overlap. Another improved function is, of course, everyone’s favourite reporting tab of “Real-Time”, which has seen an enhanced user upgrade as part of GA4 (ArkeAgency.com, 2021).
Keeping in-tune with UI upgrades, Google has also simplified its event tracking set up in the new GA4 (let us rejoice!). This not only saves us all time in fiddling around, but provides more seamless and hassle-free integration with domains and checkouts for developer teams. To butter us up, even more, GA4 comes pre-loaded with some event goals already in place. These range from users first, to scroll behaviour and clicks.
Did I hear you ask, will GA4 replace Universal Analytics? Well, the answer is yes, and no. Universal Analytics isn’t going away so to speak, it is merely going to be integrated into the new Google Analytics 4 Property type come July 2023, and Universal Analytics 360 in October 2023 (Support.Google.com, 2022).
Google Analytics 4, in all its glory, will take on the form of both Universal Analytics (for web measuring) and Google Analytics (for mobile activity) in one singular Property type for all measuring.
Thankfully, Google has provided some key intel for this transition period. You will need to add the new GA4 tag to your website as soon as possible so that your Universal Analytics data can continue getting processed and the new GA4 tag can start processing (Sharpahead.com, 2020).
In doing this, you will put yourself and your data in a safe place come the switch over in July 2023 (or October 2023 for Universal Analytics 360) to the new GA system (Support.Google.com, 2022).
In an update rolling out this month, Google has addressed the limitations of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties with Search Console Insights (SCI). SCI is a new experience created to help understand audiences better. Previously, Search Console Insights has only been available with Universal Analytics (UA) properties or as a singular tool. However, with this update and integration with GA4 properties, SCI will allow you to better understand the behaviour of your customer’s interactions in one location.
The integration of these two tools has resulted in a new reporting section. This is called a Content Card and Google uses 3 main pieces of information to populate this card.
1) Pages that have received traffic in the last 28 days that haven’t in the past year.
2) Google will filter pages that are not new content.
3) Google filters out pages that may have the same content and content translations.
If you have a GA4 property and can’t see any SCI data being pulled through once they are both connected and integrated after this update, here are a few reasons why this might be happening:
Yes. Updating to Google Analytics 4 will be inevitable. Google will no longer support the current system of GA and Universal Analytics post-October 2023 (Support.Google.com, 2022). So it is in your best interest, and your company’s, to begin the appropriate transition steps as soon as possible, not only for future-proofing reasons but for historical and data safeguarding reasons too.
To lose valuable data in not upgrading would be a huge blow for any business, especially in today's highly sensitive data environment and with GDPR laws looming over us all.
Besides, with all the new features and simplifications added to the new User Interface of Google Analytics 4, for ease of reporting and analysing the question should really be ‘When can I upgrade?’. Well, now is your answer! By integrating the new GA4 tag into your website, you can be up and running, and utilising the new features in no time.
Get in touch today with the team here at Blue Frontier and we can assist you along with the transition from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4 and the appropriate steps to be implemented.