Are You Prepared for Google Analytics 4?

Google has announced that Google Analytics 4 will be replacing any previous analytics later this year.

What’s the story with GA4?

Google has announced that Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits and data on July 1, 2023. Google Analytics 360 customers have an extra couple of months, with hits to stop processing on October 1, 2023, but for all users, Google Analytics 4 will be replacing any previous analytics this year.

Why are these changes happening?

Google explained the reasons as follows:

“Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”

– Russell Ketchum, Director, Product Management, Google Analytics

This means, in essence, that GA4 is seen as the solution to data measurement in a multi-device, privacy-centric world.
Brands and businesses are able to more effectively navigate privacy regulations using GA4, as it does not store users’ IP addresses. It also does not rely on cookies in the same way that Universal Analytics does, readying us for a cookie-free future.

What are the implications of this?

Simply put, if you do not act quickly, and set up GA4 across your websites and apps, then your analytics data will not be transferable or usable. 

Everything you have gathered up until now will be lost if you do not take action.

To give you the exact dates:

  • If you are using Universal Analytics:
    • You will not be able to collect site data from July 1, 2023.
    • You also will not be able to run a year over year analysis unless GA4 is configured by July 1, 2022.
  • If you are using Universal Analytics 360:
    • You will not be able to collect site data from October 1, 2023.
    • You also will not be able to run a year over year analysis unless GA4 is configured by October 1, 2022.

July 1, 2022 is not at all far away.

What does GA4 look like?

There are some similar features, however a few key differences, mainly in how data points are presented and reports are categorised. Credit: Search Engine Land

GA4 introduces events

Interactions such as content views, media playback, checkout engagement, purchases, and lead submissions can now be analysed as equals due to the way that GA4 measures website hits.
The data points that GA4 collects are now known as “events” and can be analysed by usage and by their role in conversion.

Goals are conversions

They have not just been renamed or rebranded but are now exclusively powered by events. They are also noir easily configurable than their Universal Analytics equivalent. 

More flexible reporting

This is the most obvious difference in GA4, compared to Universal Analytics. We now have detailed explorations and customisable views, not standard reports.

Data drives attribution

In GA4, there is a much more powerful attribution and decision engine, focusing on ROI and driven by data, when analysing data in combination with the Google Marketing Stack (tools such as Google Ads and Marketing Platform).

Marketing activation

Integrating Google Ads and Marketing Platform now provides even greater possibilities around audience cohorts to increase conversion and user action.

Important things you show know

GA4 is still in beta

Some Universal Analytics features, such as referral exclusions, do not yet exist in GA4. It is important to note that GA4 is still a developmental product, and significant updates will likely be made through to July 2023 and beyond.

Google Analytics 4 is not a new version of Universal Analytics

GA4 is not necessarily a like-for-like product of Universal Analytics. The gap analysis is something that needs to be held in major consideration when looking at reporting today vs. mid-2023 and beyond.

To summarise

Universal Analytics, the most widely used version of Google Analytics, is to be deprecated from July 2023 for Standard users and October 2023 for GA360 users.

Site and app owners running Universal Analytics should act immediately to prevent data loss and ensure continuity with data collection and reporting of key web and app metrics.

In the first instance, it should be to install GA4, but the thought should now be given to enhancing the out-of-the-box version of GA4 with customisation to make data as valuable and insightful as possible.

Download our GA4 Quick Take

Our GA4 quick take is a shareable document to help you and your business teams understand how to prepare for GA4.

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Getting Ready For Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Get UK based expert support in implementing GA4 tracking for your website and avoid losing valuable data before July…

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