We all know and love Google Analytics for its reporting features. But the interface has experienced a refresh in the form of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
GA4 launched in October 2020; one year later, 34% of marketers still knew nothing about it, and only 25% of marketers were using it.
But it looks like Google got the last laugh. Soon, it’ll be the only option available.
So, what do you need to know? Let’s get you up to speed.
What’s new, Google Analytics?
Google has stated that GA4’s predecessor – Universal Analytics – needed a refresh, as it’s built for a measurement methodology ‘quickly becoming obsolete’ – what a zinger!
However, they’ve whipped up a modern refresh for the uber-popular reporting dashboard, and Google Analytics 4 was born, which will be the default from July 1 2023.
Don’t panic, though! For those still using Universal Analytics for reporting, you’ll be able to process data until October 1, 2023 – phew!
Google Analytics 4 versus Universal Analytics: What’s the difference?
Although it may seem like a hassle to jump ship to Google Analytics 4, Google argues that GA4 is ‘designed for the future’, so you’ll reap many benefits from your new, shiny reporting dashboard.
Who is GA4 for, exactly?
GA4 is a no-brainer for businesses looking to supercharge their brand with accurate, real-time reporting. We’ve been using Google Analytics 4 for the past year, falling in love with the improved reporting and campaign measurements.
Benefits of GA4:
- Better flexibility to measure different types of data in one platform
- Machine learning – helping to predict new insights and keep up with changing privacy regulations
- Everything is stored as an event, helping you to gain a complete view of the customer lifecycle
- Data-driven attribution – allowing you to analyse the impact of your campaigns throughout the customer journey
- GA4 is set up and aligns with your objectives, helping you to focus on those in your tracking and measurement
- Improved integration with other Google products like Google Ads, allowing you to see all of your insights in one place
What was wrong with Universal Analytics?
People are creatures of habit, so you might be wondering why your beloved analytics is shaking up. To make you feel better, let’s outline some of the pesky downsides of Universal Analytics:
- Universal Analytics measures bounce rate – a measure of users who immediately click off your site versus those who stay on-site. At Arke, we strongly believe that bounce rate is an inaccurate measure of success. If users only need to be on your site for two seconds to perform the desired conversion action, why should a high bounce rate signify failure?
- Universal Analytics focuses on the devices and platforms rather than users, leading to inaccurate user tracking
- Users’ IP addresses are not anonymised – that’s a big GDPR concern, especially in times of changing privacy regulations
- Measurement frameworks are not flexible and tailored to your needs – you have to add code and enter information for each of the required parameters, whether you care about those metrics or not
- Customer journey mapping is outdated on Universal Analytics
Need we say more? If you’re not convinced that GA4 is vastly better than its predecessor, we hope the improved accessibility and integrations will seal the deal!
GA4 is now integrated with Search Ads 360, allowing users to see attributed ad traffic from Search Ads 360 in cross-channel reporting. Why’s this good? It means you can see even more of your data in one place.
Why stop there? You’ll also be able to integrate Display & Video 360 integrations for free!
What does Google Analytics 4 look like?
In a not-so-shocking surprise – Google Analytics 4 looks similar to Universal Analytics.
However, one of the main differences is in the menu bar, where you can better customise it to what you really want to analyse. It focuses on the customer lifecycle more than Universal Analytics. So instead of ‘audience, acquisition, behaviour’, you’ll see ‘acquisition, engagement, monetisation and retention’ on the left menu.
Plus, as the emphasis of GA4 is now firmly on users and their interactions, which are captured solely as events, you’ll see ‘events’ everywhere in your GA4 dashboard.
But to get the most out of GA4, you will need your developers to create and capture a custom User ID within your app and web environments. This will help you get granular with your web and app data, helping you zoom into your audience.
Our digital team can help with this, so get in touch and let us take the work off your hands.
Are you using Google Analytics 4 without knowing it?
If you’re wondering, ‘how do I know if I have Google Analytics 4?’ there’s a simple way to check. All you need to do is look at your property ID. According to Google:
Universal Analytics property IDs start with UA and end with a number (UA-XXXXXXXXX-1).
Google Analytics 4 property IDs have only numbers (XXXXXXXXX).
If you’re still unsure, there’s one more way to tell. If you created your GA property before October 14 2020, it’s Universal Analytics. After that date, your property will have been set up on Google Analytics 4.
As an agency already making full use of Google Analytics 4, we’ve started seeing improvements in reporting efficiency, allowing us to visualise our own website and our clients’.
If you’re wondering, ‘is Google Analytics 4 better?’, the simple answer is yes!
GA4 allows you to analyse users across platforms holistically, tracking users consistently and not relying on crumbling cookies.
If you’re not set up on GA4 and would like help with site migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 – get in contact with our digital experts – they’ll help simplify the process so you can make the most of the platform.