Google Analytics is a vital tool in a performance marketer’s war chest and one which we’ll all no doubt be very familiar with. But that familiarity may be coming to an end as Google rolls out a new version of Google Analytics called ‘GA4’.
What is GA4, and how is it different?
GA4, the successor to GA3 (more commonly known as Universal Analytics), brings a host of new features to marketers’ fingertips. GA4 makes some radical changes to the way we track website visitors, moving to an event-based model of monitoring rather than the session-based measurement model we’ve been used to for some time.
The move away from sessions and page views to events means that the typical Universal Analytics hit types are all translated to events within GA4.
|Universal Analytics Property
|Google Analytics 4 Property Equivalent
|Transaction / eCommerce
|App / Screen View
What Does Google Say?
Taken from Google’s direct resource on this:
“A Universal Analytics event has a Category, Action, and Label and is its own hit type. In Google Analytics 4 properties, every “hit” is an event; there is no distinction between hit types. For example, when someone views one of your website pages, a page_view event is triggered.“
In a nutshell, it will enable us to understand user behaviour more clearly, and the process for tracking user actions will be much, much easier.
Why Should I Upgrade?
There are plenty of reasons to make the shift to GA4, but here are the core arguments for why you should be making the change now:
- Whilst there is no official word from Google, Universal Analytics will eventually be sunsetted and no longer supported, with the focus and attention shifting solely to GA4 and developing the platform. This may happen in six months, or we may still be rocking Universal Analytics in 2025 – at this stage, it’s unclear. But the sooner you can transition onto the platform, the better.
- With GA4, there is much less sampling compared to Universal Analytics. And while GA4 still does some data sampling, it only happens when working with enormous custom data sets. For the most part, all of the standard reports are shown unsampled (irrespective of how many custom dimensions or filters you use), so you’ll be getting far more accurate data.
- You don’t need to “upgrade” your existing Google Analytics account to GA4 – it needs to be installed alongside your existing Universal Analytics. Because of this, the earlier you set up GA4 on your domain and start collecting data, the better it will be. For example, if 6-12 months down the line Universal Analytics has a firm wind-down roadmap, you’ll already have historical data in your account, meaning you won’t be starting from scratch on your measurement journey. Plus, you’ll have more time to adjust to the new platform and the way it works.
- GA4 has a whole host of AI and machine learning built-in as standard. This becomes even more important when we consider that we’re moving closer and closer to a cookieless world, as it will help fill in the gaps where data tracking and attribution is lost or muddy. Machine learning will add value by providing insights, trends and recommendations based on the data being fed from your site – a feature we’re super excited to test for our clients!
- Universal Analytics has a whole host of reporting functionality. However, GA4 takes this up a notch by giving users access to a plethora of enterprise-level reporting that was once only available to Analytics 360 customers. So no more shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars – thanks, Google!
What Do We Think?
Our UX & Analytics Director, Ian Fong, has been playing with GA4 for some time.
“GA4 unlocks reporting that was previously only available to Analytics 360 customers.
The shift from hits to event-based measurement means that data can now be captured at a deeper, more granular level. This leads to new and exciting reporting capabilities such as funnel analysis, path reports, and viewing the entire user journey from acquisition through to retention – all within the GA4 platform.
We encourage everyone to start familiarising themselves with GA4 now. Aside from the critical improvements in customer behaviour insights and performance analysis, there’s no doubt that GA4 will become the new standard in the industry.”
What Can I Do To Get Ready?
The first thing to do is to speak to your web development or digital agency about setting up GA4 – even if it’s just an immediate implementation and tracking standard events – as it will stand you in good stead for the future.
Yoghurt Digital has a team of Analytics experts who can help you set up GA4 and support event implementation and other tracking requirements based on your current GA setup and business objectives. Whether you need something simple, or something super custom and in-depth, the team at Yoghurt Digital has got you covered. Get in touch with us today!