Google’s recent introduction of Google Analytics 4 is their modern approach to website analytics, and it promises marketers a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour using new tech, such as AI.
So, let’s dive in and explore what it is and what differentiates it from Universal Analytics.
What Is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a new product from Google that lets you track a customer’s journey on a website or app. Like Google’s Universal Analytics and their ‘Apps and Web’ property, GA4 tracks and presents data on users’ interaction with websites and apps. Marketers use these tools to decide who to target with campaigns and how to do so.
What’s Changed? The Key Highlights
Google Analytics 4 is a new product - not an upgraded version of Universal Analytics (GA3). The new features range from UI to the way data is reported.
Key highlights include integration across websites and apps, predictions and insights produced by AI, and reports organised around consumer journeys.
We’ll take a more detailed look at some of these below.
Deeper audiences integration with Google Ads
There is more communication between Google Ads and GA4 than with previous analytics products. There's also reporting across websites, apps, and YouTube ads. You can view conversions from YouTube, Google, and organic channels simultaneously.
A great feature is that users who have bought a product on any platform will be removed automatically from that list. This prevents them from seeing ads for a product they’ve purchased.
Customer lifecycle-framed reporting
Data is organised around a customer journey, as opposed to individual events. These more detailed and thorough reports promise to give marketers more insight into user interactions. Even across websites and apps!
This means that data and reports from GA4 are not comparable to those in Universal Analytics. But, the change is for the best. Gone are the days of figuring out how individual metrics fit together.
Codeless Event tracking
Google Analytics 4 simplifies tracking events such as page views, clicks and actions. You no longer have to create custom code to measure on-site and in-app events, which means real-time tracking with less hassle.
Using more granular data controls, GA4 allows marketers to get more customer information while still adhering to data regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. This feature is vital for marketers as internet users are tightening up on their privacy.
For example, you can use consent mode on websites. This means that the site will only retrieve data when end-users consent. It has separate opt-ins for analytics and ads so that users who opt out of ads can still provide data for analytics.
User privacy is becoming increasingly important as people want to control what companies do with their data. So, without consent mode, users are more likely to opt out of everything - including analytics.
As privacy has become a hot topic for internet users, many opt out of cookies, essential tools for marketers to track user journeys. GA4 uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to fill in gaps that may arise from a lack of cookies, enabling tracking of users across platforms and devices.
Less is more with the way GA4 displays reports, and it displays expandable summary cards of overview reports instead of more comprehensive reports covering every use case. This allows marketers to identify irregularities and trends in the data quickly.
How To Set Up Google Analytics 4
There are two ways to set up this new version of Analytics. You can set up a new account or create a new property within your account using the latest version alongside your current analytics property.
To start from scratch, there are three steps: Create a Google Analytics account. Create a new property within that account. Set up the data stream for that property. Remember, with GA4, you can get data for both web and app views.
If you’re concerned about changing over completely, there is no need to worry. You can use your Universal Analytics account to set up a GA4 property the second way. The dual setup allows you to keep your Universal Analytics property and create a GA4 property to learn about the new features. As data populates your GA4 property, you’ll get insight into how the new UI works. You won’t be forced to switch over for now. But, with the more meaningful analysis provided by the new version, it's worth setting it up and exploring what it offers. Note that new properties or accounts will automatically use GA4 from now on.
To perform the dual set-up, you’ll need to do the following: Log into Google Analytics, and if you have more than one account, choose the one for which you’d like to set up Google Analytics 4. Choose the property that collects data for your desired website/app, and click on ‘Google Analytics 4 Setup Assistant’ Follow the prompts from the Setup Assistant, and there you have it!
Google Analytics 4 has new features and promises to deepen marketers’ understanding of user journeys, but it has also been built to withstand the ever-changing future. Because it works with or without cookies, you can rest assured that changes to privacy regulations won’t affect your analytics.
It's definitely worth setting up a GA4 property - whether you’re new to analytics or a veteran SEO specialist. Every digital marketing agency relies on data, and this new version of Analytics will elevate your ability to market to your customers, by providing top-notch data.