Earlier this year, Google announced that the existing version of Google Analytics, better known as Universal Analytics (UA) will be replaced by GA4 (Google Analytics 4) in 2023. GA4 is being touted as Google Analytics’ all-new next-generation management solution, and all businesses that currently use UA will need to switch to the new GA4 version by July 1, 2023, if they wish to continue using Google Analytics. For those companies that have been relying on Google Analytics for years, this probably comes as a shock, and might even feel a little unnerving. Luckily, the experts at Rush Ventures are here to break down the changes ahead. From what’s happening to the benefits and features of the new platform, keep reading to learn all there is to know about Google Analytics 4.
What is Changing?
First thing first, what is changing? To reiterate, Google Analytics’ current analytics platform, Universal Analytics, is going away. As of July 1, 2023, it will be replaced with Google Analytics’ brand-new platform, GA4. However, up until July 1st of next year, you can still use and collect data through Universal Analytics. Further, for the following six months after the conversion, businesses will be able to access historical data from their Universal Analytics profiles. Google recommends that users export all reports during this six-month period, as you won’t have access to it by the end of 2023.
What is Behind Google’s Decision?
Google introduced Analytics back in 2005. It started out as a paid service and quickly transitioned into a free product, as the company realized it could generate greater revenue through Google Ads. The problem with Universal Analytics is that it relies on cookies to collect data, which have become increasingly unreliable due to things like ad blockers, iOS changes, government regulations, and more. Over the years, the company’s values have also evolved, with their priorities now lying in privacy and automation. Therefore, to reflect this new digital environment, Google decided they needed to make a change and to do that, they chose to rebuild their entire Analytics platform.
Google Analytics 4 promises to be something entirely new. It will not simply be an updated version of Universal Analytics. It places Machine Learning at its core, allowing the platform to fill in measurement gaps (e.g. show revenue from clicks even if a visitor is using an ad blocker) and make predictions about the future (e.g. which visitors are likely to convert in a certain time frame). Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and features of Google’s new analytics platform, GA4.
The Benefits of Google Analytics 4
Although GA4 has yet to be released, Google promises that the new analytics platform will offer plenty of benefits to users. As mentioned, it is designed to improve upon many of the flaws of the existing Universal Analytics platform. For this reason, users will notice many differences between the two platforms. A few of the benefits that businesses can look forward to with GA4 include:
- Emphasizes the user journey: Google Analytics 4 is designed to emphasize the user’s journey more than ever before. The new data-driven platform allows businesses to use a single set of metrics and dimensions to analyze both web and app data. This means that businesses will be able to track a single user that visits their website from their mobile phone, then comes back to visit on their desktop, and then downloads, purchases, or registers through your app.
- Prioritizes user engagement: Next, Google Analytics 4 promises to put user engagement first thanks to new metrics and dimensions that use AI to predict customer behaviour. Some of these new metrics will be referred to as Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention. Businesses can also access separate “Audience” reports to help you further define users.
- Simplifies goals and events: Another benefit of GA4 is that the platform provides users with a suite of pre-made actions and events (previously, any of these actions required manual setup). Examples of pre-made actions and events available through GA4 include clicks, scroll behaviour, file downloads, and transactions.
- Uses AI insights for new predictive metrics: Finally, perhaps one of the most exciting new benefits of Google Analytics 4 is the machine learning that has been incorporated into the platform. Using AI, Google is adding predictive metrics so businesses can create audiences based on predicted behaviours and then target them with relevant Google Ads or social media campaigns. These new predictive metrics will enable businesses to improve retargeting efforts and increase website performance by creating custom funnels for different audiences based on unique behaviours and needs.
The New Features of Google Analytics 4
Now that you know what’s changing and what benefits Google Analytics 4 comes with, let’s dive into some of the new features we’re most excited about.
Pages and Screens Report
Google Analytics 4 is introducing a pages and screens report feature that will allow users to better track their website pages to learn how audiences are engaging with them. You will be able to see how much traffic each unique landing page garners, how much time a user spends on each page, and more.
GA4 is also introducing real-time reports, a new feature that allows users to see activities on a website the moment they happen. This means that you will be able to track the online behaviour of your audience in real-time, which can be especially useful for marketing campaigns as it can allow you to make changes on the fly, optimizing your strategy to improve engagement and conversions.
In an effort to improve privacy, Google Analytics 4 will also allow users to delete data from the Analytics server. All you need to do is request the data be deleted using the data deletion feature. This feature gives businesses a maximum of 12 active requests per property at a time. Requests can be cancelled within 7 days of the time it was created, and in the first 7 days, you can view how the requested deletion will affect your data.
Finally, Google Analytics 4 is improving event creation by capturing every interaction as an event. From there, it will automatically track events when a user interacts with your web page. As a business, you can also create new events as you wish.