Introducing Google Analytics 4: Here’s what you need to know about this major release

Back Introducing Google Analytics 4: Here’s what you need to know about this major release

Moving beyond Universal Analytics, Google has released its latest iteration of its web analytics platform and it’s a big one.

Changes include deeper integration with Google Ads, expanded predictive insights, cross-device measurement capabilities and more granular data controls. The update, called Google Analytics 4 (GA4), will be the default option for new web properties with the eventual phasing out of Universal Analytics on the horizon. We expect that the learning curve will be steep--but worth it. Google Analytics 4 has a lot on offer and our advice is to get familiar with it sooner rather than later. This article will get you started.

Google Analytics 4 versus Universal Analytics

Google Analytics 4, which will replace Google’s current Universal Analytics, adds AI-powered predictive insights, tracks users across devices, has deeper integration with Google Ads, and provides more granular data controls. While it retains some of its reporting capabilities, the changes represent a shift towards its core mission: Analytics. 

Google Analytics 4 is a major update with changes to functionality, insights, and organization. It offers updates that will empower data-savvy marketers and make transparent the information businesses need to enhance their return on investment. You can do a deep dive into the differences between the two data models here. Read on for more about some of the most important and exciting changes in GA4. 

Customer lifecycle-framed reporting 

One of the most significant changes in GA4 is the reorganization of reports to be around the customer lifecycle rather than by device or platform. This change in perspective allows users a more complete picture of customer engagement and gives them the ability to explore all aspects of their customer’s journey. Everything from acquisition to conversion and retention is totally transparent. 

Enhanced AI-powered predictive insights

Machine learning-powered insights have been a part of Google Analytics for some time but with the release of GA4, there’s a much stronger predictive element and the ability for the platform to inform users automatically about data trends. For example, a user might receive an alert notifying them that there’s increased demand for a product they sell. More notably, GA4 can help users anticipate future actions [their] customers might take by, for example, calculating churn probability. Users can get a much clearer idea of what they need to do to improve their ROI armed with this knowledge.

Deeper integration with Google Ads

There is a goldmine of information around Google Ads and with GA4, users will have much better data to work with, which will help them improve their ROI. With the new platform, users can track engagements--across devices and channels--so they can create experiences that work. The ability to measure interactions from the web and applications, and to see this data together, lets users tweak and target their marketing efforts, tailoring them towards what works.

More data controls in the age of privacy

With increased attention to privacy concerns, changes like the phasing out of third-party cookies are expected to become the norm. The result will be some gaps in data. Google Analytics 4 is anticipating these changes and looking towards machine-learning to fill in those gaps. GA4 comes with consent mode, designed specifically for sites that must obtain end-user consent, that provides opt-ins for analytics and ads. Additionally, the platform now has options to help users comply with data regulations like GDPR and CCPA. 

The change to Google Analytics 4 signals the eventual discontinuation of Universal Analytics but that’s not the most compelling reason to learn the new platform, now. Those who dig into GA4’s capabilities will have access, sooner, to its robust and powerful new features designed to give you access to the best data so you can maximize your marketing ROI, all while making sure your website stays within current privacy regulations. The Google Analytics 4 learning curve is well worth the effort.

If you need help in better understanding the impact and benefits of Google Analytics 4 please drop us a line.