The latest iteration of Google’s web analytics platform launched in November 2020. Known as “App + Web properties” during its beta period, it’s now called ‘Google Analytics 4’ and does everything you’ve ever dreamed of: From delivering AI-powered insights to following customer journeys across devices and platforms – nothing seems impossible. It appears that the future of analytics has finally arrived.
On the foundation of the “App + Web properties” introduced in 2019, Google has designed a true game-changer created for comprehensive user analysis. The new Google Analytics 4 (dubbed GA4) is based on machine learning and able to deliver essential insights that will help you to greatly improve your ROI and make long-term business plans. It will slowly replace its predecessor UA, Universal Analytics, with any and all new properties now being GA4.
Predictive Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help marketers get ahead of trends and make every marketing dollar count. By alerting you of the rising demand for a product or making you aware of future actions your customers may take, you will be better equipped to create effective campaigns and improve your results.
Why is it called Google Analytics 4?
Besides being the 4th iteration of Google’s web analytics platform, it also relies on four concepts of data collection:
- Events: User interactions that can be measured. E.g. page views, button clicks, user actions
- Parameters: Additional information that further specifies the action a user took
- User Property: Attributes about the user who interacts with the website or app
- User ID: A feature that lets you follow the cross-platform, cross-device user journey
Google Analytics 4 – What’s New?
In a nutshell, the most recent update includes the following major changes:
- Use of machine learning to alert marketers of new data trends
- Deeper Google Ads integration to see results across all paid and non-paid channels
- Customer-centric data measurement allowing for a deeper understanding of customer interactions
- More granular data controls making it easier to manage data collection
- A new interface that’s set as the default for new properties
Advanced Machine Learning
Google Analytics 4 relies heavily on AI and machine learning to predict trends and patterns in customer-centric data. It is able to uncover trends in product sales and customer demand and by doing so, helping businesses be proactive, as well as reactive, by predicting future actions their customers may take. The application of AI is very promising and in the future could soon enough even predict the potential revenue you could earn from a particular group of customers.
Deeper Google Ads Integration
New and improved integration with Google Ads lets you create audiences that can reach customers with more relevant experiences, wherever they engage with a business, across the web, social media and apps. This allows for a truly holistic view of your performance across paid and non-paid platforms. If a user has, for example, finalised a booking or purchase via an app, they will not be further retargeted with ads.
Customer-Centric Data Measurement
Google Analytics has evolved to focus on customer-centric measurement designed to give marketers a more complete view of how their customers interact with a business. Now marketers can for example see where a customer first discovered a business. This will give them a much better understanding of the customer journey – from acquisition to conversion and retention.
Conversion Insights via Events
Conversion insights are probably the most relevant aspect of GA4. To track web and app actions, you will need to activate enhanced measurement event tracking. Enhanced measurements make it easy to track more than just page views. It also makes tracking a lot simpler – with no need for code to track event conversions.
Instead, it measures conversions in real-time via ‘multiple identity spaces’. This allows you to follow your customers from the moment you first grab their attention, enabling you to keep them engaged through retargeting campaigns or other marketing efforts.
“Insights makes it easier for customers to discover important information about their data and take meaningful action.” Google Analytics
Note: Old event tracking will no longer work! According to Google, you will need to translate a UA event to GA4 by matching automatically-collected events.
Say Goodbye to “Goals”
Technically, there are no “goals” in GA4, just conversions. As described above, conversions must be event-based – as opposed to URL-based. After you get your property set up, enhanced measurement event tracking auto-captures events and assigns certain events as conversions within the property.
By simplifying the processes to attribute specific actions, Google does not only make it easier for you to gain more valuable insights but is preparing for a “cookie-less” future. Increased data-regulation means that tracking via cookies will soon be obsolete. Event-based conversion insights allow you to monitor your audience in a whole new way and future-proof your marketing efforts.
The GA4 live report I Source: Deitatown
A Brand New Interface
The GA4 interface is cleaner and focuses on data visualisation, which makes it easier to digest than its predecessor. There are a lot more graphs and fewer numbers, which will make reporting a lot simpler, too – especially for those new to Google Analytics. New groupings in the left-hand side menu allow you to easily follow the user journey across paid and unpaid platforms.
Upgrading to Google Analytics 4
When upgrading your current account to GA4, or downloading Google Analytics new, you will begin collecting new session information and user data. Historical data from Universal Analytics will not be transferred. You can, however, continue to use it and implement it for a GA4 property.
You will need to include both the tags for your UA property and your GA4 property to do so.
How to Setup GA4?
Google recommends starting by setting up both property types UA and GA4 and running them in parallel. GA4 will receive continued updates and we can expect it to evolve over time, closing the last gaps in our understanding of the user journey on its way.
You can find out how to do that, in Google’s Guide right here!
Do you need help setting up a new Google Analytics account? Do you have questions concerning your Google Ads or Search Engine Optimisation efforts? Get in touch with the SEO and PPC gurus here at Anchor Digital. We would love to hear from you!