A new version of the popular Google Analytics tool has just become a reality and there is no way back. From 1 July 2023, GA4 becomes the only version available. Although some people are still watching the last breaths of Universal Analytics, it is definitely necessary to say goodbye already and start a new exciting chapter of web analytics under the title: Google Analytics 4.

What is Google Analytics 4?

If you are living under a rock (or I have not been interested in digital marketing so far) you should be familiar with what Google Analytics stands for and what it is used for. However, if you’re not completely on the subject, it will be the most effectively spent hour of your professional life when you watch a comprehensive introduction to the subject by Google Analytics expert himself, Julius Fedorovicius, known as AnalyticsMania:

What makes Google Analytics 4 different?

GA4

Disadvantages

Once you know what Google Analytics 4 is, it is time for an honest opinion and concrete applications in practice. Let’s start with what it is the most disliked tool for:

  • poor real-time reporting
  • confusion between user-based and session-based metrics, making reports very difficult to read
  • a complicated reports section with non-intuitive metrics that are incompatible with each other
  • the lack of the view known from the UA, which means that each property has to contain a separate tracking tag and this is a lot of work

Apart from obvious deficits such as a difficult-to-adapt interface or complicated configuration in the case of e-commerce, Google Analytics 4 also surprises with positives.

Advantages

  • great flexibility in customising the views of the default report
  • more interesting breakdown of default channels, taking into account the complexity of the omni-channel world
  • relatively simple integration with BigQuery, which opens up completely new doors in terms of new skills and usages

What should you know about Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics has long been the go-to tool for website owners and digital marketers aiming to understand their audience and improve their online performance. In the ever-evolving world of digital analytics, Google introduced a significant update with Google Analytics 4. This new version is not just an upgrade but a complete reimagining of the platform. Here’s what you should know about GA4:

  1. Event-Based Tracking: Unlike the previous versions, which were session-based, GA4 is event-driven. This means that user interactions, such as clicks, scrolls, or video views, are now tracked as individual events. This offers a more granular view of user behavior, allowing for more detailed insights and analysis.
  2. Machine Learning at its Core: GA4 leverages Google’s machine learning capabilities to provide automated insights. This means the platform can predict future actions of users, identify trends, and even alert you to significant changes in data, such as a drop in e-commerce sales.
  3. User-Centric Data Model: GA4 offers a more user-centric approach, focusing on how users interact with your content across multiple sessions and devices. This shift allows marketers to understand the entire customer journey, from acquisition to conversion and retention.
  4. Improved Audience Building: With GA4, you can create audiences based on a combination of attributes, including past on-site behavior, predicted future actions, and more. This enhanced capability allows for more precise targeting in advertising campaigns.
  5. Cross-Platform Tracking: One of the standout features of GA4 is its ability to track users across multiple platforms, including web and mobile apps. This unified approach provides a holistic view of user behavior, regardless of where the interaction takes place.
  6. Enhanced Data Controls: Privacy concerns are at the forefront of digital marketing discussions. GA4 offers improved data controls, allowing website owners to manage how they collect, retain, and use data. This includes features like data deletion requests and cookie opt-out capabilities, ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
  7. New and Improved Reports: GA4 has restructured its reporting, moving away from the traditional acquisition-behavior-conversion flow. The new reports are more intuitive, focusing on the user lifecycle stages, such as acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention.
  8. Codeless Event Tracking: With GA4, there’s no need to add custom code or set up event tags for certain interactions. The platform can automatically track specific events, making it easier for non-technical users to gain insights without diving into code.
  9. Integration with Google BigQuery: For businesses that rely on Big Data, GA4 offers seamless integration with Google BigQuery. This allows for advanced data analysis and the ability to combine website data with other data sources for comprehensive insights.
  10. It’s the Future: It’s essential to note that GA4 is not just an alternative to Universal Analytics; it’s the future. Google has made it clear that GA4 will receive all the new features and updates, indicating a gradual phase-out of the older versions.
Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 is a game-changer in the world of digital analytics. Its user-centric approach, combined with advanced machine learning capabilities, offers businesses unparalleled insights into their audience’s behavior. While there’s a learning curve associated with adopting GA4, the benefits it brings to the table make it a worthy investment for any business aiming to thrive in the digital age.

Useful resources

  1. Google Analytics 4 for developers
  2. How to migrate to GA4
  3. Comparing metrics UA vs GA4