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Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

If you use Google Analytics, you may have been getting notifications in your account for a while about the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property coming soon. As of July 2023, standard Universal Analytics will be discontinued and GA4 will be the only version available. Your historical processed data will be available for six months after 1st July, so if you need any reports you must download them within that timeframe. Google says: “We strongly encourage you to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to build the necessary historical data and usage in the new experience, preparing you for continuity once Universal Analytics is no longer available”. Please note that if you created your Google Analytics property after 14th October 2020 then you are likely already using the new version.

What is different about GA4?

The fundamental difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics is that the new version is more customisable, meaning you can track what is important to your business, rather than being limited to what Google thinks is important. Secondly it provides lots more data. If you read our last blog on the art of SEO copywriting, you will know that quality content is vital to being found in search results and for getting people to land and stay on your pages. With much more data available, we can see the actions that our visitors take, which can help to shape our content so that it becomes more personalised.   

Different user interface

The Google Analytics dashboard will look different – many of the metrics and reports that you are used to seeing are not there and have either been removed or replaced. If you want to know more take a look at the video below from Google, which gives an overview of the new GA4 interface. Reporting also looks different. You can customise your dashboard to view the reports that matter to your business, and it works really well together with Google Data Studio for analytics reporting.   

App tracking

GA4 is able to track app data. Previously you had Google Analytics for website data and Google Firebase for apps, now it will be combined in one platform. Machine learning is used to offer detailed insights into how visitors interact with not just your website, but your app too, if you have one. It tracks the entire customer journey, for example if they start on your website, go to your app and back to your website again to make a purchase.   

Event based data

GA4 uses a different data model. Universal Analytics collects sessions and page views, whereas GA4 collects event based data, meaning that it’s very focused on engagement, and tracks the actions that people take. You will be able to report on metrics such as engagement rate, engagement time and engaged sessions, rather than simply page views which Google has discovered is no longer what’s important.  

Cookieless measurement

GA4 is very focused on user privacy and It takes into account ‘cookieless’ measurement (the use of website cookies where users accept or decline their online behaviour being tracked is coming to an end).

You can of course track what people do on your own website or app though, and if you have the Global Site Tag implemented on a page in the back end of your website then GA4 can track certain types of ‘events’ with no extra coding required, these include:

  • Where someone scrolled down to on a page
  • What they searched for on your website
  • What files they downloaded
  • Video engagement
  • At what point they left your website (very important).

Powerful insights to shape your online advertising  

Universal Analytics was focused on past behaviour, whereas GA4 uses predictive metrics including ‘purchase probability’ and ‘revenue prediction’ to predict audience behaviours. If you use Google Ads or social media advertising for your business, this is an incredible feature that can positively impact your re-targeting campaigns. For example your ads can target those exact website or app visitors who are likely to spend above a certain amount or who are likely to make a purchase within the next week. This is a great feature, especially with the use of cookies going away, as we mentioned above.

As you can see there’s lots of exciting changes and new features with GA4. If you’re a client of Q Social Media then we will already have moved you across to the new platform, or are in the process of doing so.

Post Author: Q Social Media