On Thursday 25th March, our expert marketing panel hosted the latest episode in our digital masterclass series: ‘Google Analytics 4: what you need to know’.
You might have heard that Google will soon be scrapping third party cookies. Propelled by major shifts in consumer behaviour and privacy-driven changes to longtime industry standards, Google Analytics 4 is there to help overcome what’s been described by some as the ‘rewriting of the rules of the internet’. This masterclass helped prepare attendees for the migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, minimising the potential impact and maximising the opportunity it presents.
A huge thank you to everyone who attended and submitted a number of thought-provoking questions…we’ve rounded some of them and our panel’s responses up, so you can digest them at your leisure.
If you want to watch an on-demand recording of the masterclass, we’ve embedded the YouTube video below too.
1. Will the GA update happen automatically or do we need to do something?
GA4 is a new platform in its own right. So yes, you will need to create a new GA4 property within your Google Analytics account, and get it linked to your website either through the code or, ideally, through Google Tag Manager.
2. Can you still build Data Studio reports with GA4 or do you need to build and export reports?
Data Studio will natively connect to Google Analytics 4 just like it does with the existing Google Analytics instance, and it will also connect to Google BigQuery as well. That Google BigQuery integration, up to certain usage, is completely free, unless you’re querying terabytes and terabytes of data a month! Everything will ll integrate natively into Data Studio, as well as a whole host of other platforms. If you do integrate with BigQuery, it will be incredibly fast to interpret and query data.
3. How do you import an audience from Google Analytics into Google Ads?
GA4, just like Universal Analytics, supports a native Google Ads link and once you’ve done that all audiences available within GA4 will be available in your Google Ads account, alongside your goals, which are conversions as well. However, you cannot migrate across your existing audiences within Universal Analytics, so implementing GA4 sooner rather than later is recommended to avoid starting from scratch once UA becomes obsolete.
4. Do we interpret engagement rate as the opposite of bounce rate? I.e if there’s a 60% engagement rate can we assume a 40% bounce rate?
No, is the short answer to that! Bounce rate isn’t actually a thing in GA4. In terms of the interpretation of it, bounce rate isn’t the opposite of engagement, and engagement isn’t a bounce. Engagement really should just be an amalgamation or an assembly of touchpoints or key performance indicators that you set up, or decide upon, yourself, that contribute towards certain touch points or certain conversions. So, if an individual doesn’t bounce from page and they click through one page deeper, but then don’t do anything more, we wouldn’t count that as an engagement, but if they then went on and visited three or four more pages, read a blog post and perhaps made an enquiry, that would certainly be an engagement.
It’s very subjective and dependent on what you’re tracking, how deep your funnel is, and what you’re trying to get the users to do on your website that defines your engagement. Bounce rate is just an indication really of page quality and the quality of the user that you’re driving to the page; especially if it’s paid media.
5. When GA4 is set up would it include the old data from universal analytics or start from scratch?
Similar to most things with Google Analytics, it always starts fresh. If you’ve already got Universal Analytics running, you can keep that going and you can pull and merge that data by using a variety of tools. Look outside of Google Analytics and start to understand your data that you’re tracking and how you can do it in GA4. You’ve got plenty of time to make that transition, but in short, you cannot migrate across your data.
6. Is raw data available in BigQuery free from sampling issues or is sampling irrelevant now with the AIs we rely upon?
In terms of the event data from BigQuery, this is a big new advantage. There won’t be any sampling issues when doing a look back of six months. If you’re in Data Studio, or if you’re creating a custom Google Analytics API query, if you’re looking back longer than 6 months, it will start to sample. But, if you’ve got that data from day one going into BigQuery you won’t have any issues with sampling.
In terms of the AI and the way it stitches that data and builds that intelligence, it won’t have much effect on the event data streams that are getting pushed to BigQuery, which is very much like hard data and is not in any way modelled upon. But, it is very much the audience stuff that uses the AI, so if you’re bringing in information around segments of users around certain interaction points, and then using that to compare the event data, you might see some kind of irregularities, but on the whole sampling won’t be an issue.
7. When will it be compulsory to have Google Analytics 4? Is there any benefit in waiting until 2022?
We estimate that Universal Analytics will be redundant in 2022, but all the data will still be in there. As we said earlier, when it goes, so will your data!
We really recommend you start experimenting with GA4 now. Run the two instances side by side until you’re fully comfortable with GA4. You can compare the two instances side by side to ensure that all tracking is in place and you’re tracking what you need. If you get started now, it will be much easier when Google does remove support for Universal Analytics.
If you’re spending any money on paid media, especially in Google Ads, it’s really important that you get GA4 immediately. Those audience definitions are going to become smaller and smaller as platforms and users search the web with fewer and fewer cookies.
That’s a wrap on our Q&A session, if you have any queries in regards to your Google Analytics 4 implementation, get in touch to book a free 30 minute consultation with our experts and as promised the full masterclass is below: