Back in October 2020, Google released its first highly anticipated decade-long upgrade of Google Analytics, entitled Google Analytics 4. At its core, it sees the amalgamation of two property types (Universal Analytics for measuring websites and Google Analytics for mobile app activity) into one all-encompassing property type; Google Analytics 4 Properties.
What is Google Analytics 4
This new generation of Google Analytics will allow businesses and website owners to gain a more focused insight into website users and online prospect behaviours through a more enriched and data-providing interface. Google has updated, improved, and simplified its analytical software, aiming (and achieving!) to provide website owners with the most authentic analytical experience to date.
Along with this core analysis and UI update, Google has truly zoned in on its approach to Data Privacy and collection and has completely overhauled this in Google Analytics 4. Google has considered the extremely sensitive area of data privacy in today’s data landscape, where customers are much more susceptible to unnecessary data gathering and cloud storage.
Unfortunately, as with many major improvement upgrades, previous generations will be phased out. This is a sad and unfortunate realisation for all of us Google Analytics 3 lovers. However, there is a shining light at the end of GA3: the functionality, intelligence, and depth of data in GA4. Now is the time to get the ball rolling by exploring all about Google Analytics 4 and Google Analytics 4 Properties.
With this in mind, it is also the perfect time to introduce GA4 into your website and code. Implementing this now will allow GA4 and GA3 to work in tandem to process data points until the eventual transition period of Google Analytics 4 takes full effect.
What are the benefits of Google Analytics 4 Properties?
As with all new software upgrades, plenty of new features and benefits are included; Google has stated that this new generation of Analytics (i.e. Google Analytics 4) has been explicitly designed to help scale businesses through deep data analysis and reporting to aid decision-making activities.
A vital aspect of this is the new cross-device and platform tracking software, which allows for more precise user journeys to be established and recognised for PPC and audience grouping.
In partnership with this, Google has stated that the new GA4 update will utilise the latest Artificial Intelligence algorithms to help create more profound, insightful predictions of online consumer behaviour.
Now, let us explore some of the other new features that Google is introducing with the new GA4 update:
- Improved Customer Tracking
As mentioned, Google Analytics 4 has switched things up, integrating Web and App Properties into a singular modular Property. This has allowed a single-user journey to be cross-tracked along multiple devices into one event-based instance. This new singular event-based tracking model can allow for more intelligent reporting of online customer behaviour, which can be fed straight into your marketing team’s reports.
In fully utilising this new feature, Google hopes that it can better provide businesses with customer-grouping activities. These activities can then be used to aid in constructing better customer- and buyer-personas for your marketing funnel.
1.2 Create More Powerful Audiences for Campaigns
Following on from our above point, a better understanding and reporting of customers who visit your website can allow you to create better audience groups for targeting and re-targeting. This can be more profitable for your business, as these audience groups can be used directly in PPC and localised advertising. In conjunction with this, the new GA4 update can utilise its new Artificial Intelligence modelling to show predictive metrics of where potential revenue could be made from customer groups. This asset will be precious for business growth!
1.3 Enhanced Visualisations and Reporting
Whilst much of the current UI has remained, some new reporting and visualisation functions are being introduced to the platform to simplify the experience. Among these new functions is the “Analysis Hub”, which features a template gallery of charts you can create for many aspects, such as funnel analysis and segment overlap. Another improved function is everyone’s favourite reporting tab, “Real-Time”, which has seen an enhanced user upgrade as part of GA4 (ArkeAgency.com, 2021).
1.4 Simplified Goal and Events Set-up
Keeping in tune with UI upgrades, Google has also simplified its event tracking set-up in the new GA4 (let us rejoice!). This saves us all time in fiddling around and provides more seamless and hassle-free integration with domains and checkouts for developer teams. To butter us up even more, GA4 comes pre-loaded with some event goals already in place. These range from users first to scroll behaviour and clicks.
Will GA4 replace Universal Analytics?
Will GA4 replace Universal Analytics? Well, the answer is yes, and no. Universal Analytics is not going away, so to speak; it is merely going to be integrated into the new Google Analytics 4 Property type come July 2023 and Universal Analytics 360 in October 2023 (Support.Google.com, 2022).
Google Analytics 4, in all its glory, will take on the form of Universal Analytics (for web measuring) and Google Analytics (for mobile activity) in one particular Property type for all measuring.
Thankfully, Google has provided some critical intel for this transition period. You will need to add the new GA4 tag to your website as soon as possible so that your Universal Analytics data can continue processing and the new GA4 tag can start processing (Sharpahead.com, 2020).
In doing this, you will put yourself and your data in a safe place and come to the switch over in July 2023 (or October 2023 for Universal Analytics 360) to the new GA system (Support.Google.com, 2022).
Search Console Insights & Google Analytics 4
In an update this month, Google has addressed the limitations of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties with Search Console Insights (SCI). SCI is a new experience created to help understand audiences better. Previously, Search Console Insights was only available with Universal Analytics (UA) properties or as a unique tool. However, with this update and integration with GA4 properties, SCI will allow you to understand better the behaviour of your customer’s interactions in one location.
Benefits of The Integrations
The integration of these two tools has resulted in a new reporting section. This is called a Content Card, and Google uses 3 main pieces of information to populate this card.
1) Pages that have received traffic in the last 28 days that have not in the past year.
2) Google will filter pages that are not new content.
3) Google filters out pages that may have the same content and content translations.
Possible Integration issues
If you have a GA4 property and cannot see any SCI data being pulled through once they are both connected and integrated after this update, here are a few reasons why this might be happening:
- Your Google Search Console property is not associated with a Google Analytics 4 property, which can cause the disconnect.
- You are looking at the wrong property view. Remember, there can be 20 views per property.
- It would be best if you had the correct access level in GA.
Do I have to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?
Yes. Updating to Google Analytics 4 will be inevitable. Google will no longer support the current GA and Universal Analytics system post-October 2023 (Support.Google.com, 2022). So it is in your best interest, and your company’s, to begin the appropriate transition steps as soon as possible, not only for future-proofing reasons but also for historical and data-safeguarding reasons.
To lose valuable data in not upgrading would be a massive blow for any business, especially in today’s highly sensitive data environment and GDPR laws looming over us all.
Besides, with all the new features and simplifications added to the new User Interface of Google Analytics 4, for ease of reporting and analysing, the question should be, ‘When can I upgrade?’. Well, now is your answer! Integrating the new GA4 tag into your website lets you be up and running and utilising the new features in no time.
Get in touch today with the team here at BlueDoorDesign in UK, and we can assist you with the transition from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4 and the appropriate steps to be implemented.