What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and when do I need to switch to it?
If you use Google Analytics, there’s a big change around the corner that you need to know about.
As of July 1st 2023, the current version of Google Analytics (otherwise known as Universal Analytics or its abbreviation, ‘UA’) will cease to track insights and it will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by default.
Here’s what you need to know about the newest version of Google Analytics and how you can prepare for the switch.
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics is an analytics service offered by Google that collects data from your websites and apps to create reports that provide insights into your business.
Launched in October 2020, GA4 is the fourth major release of Google Analytics and the newest iteration of the analytics platform.
There are a large number of major changes to the functionality of the software and the data it collects, with one of the biggest innovations being the ability to analyse data from websites and apps in one platform, instead of two separate platforms.
Through this update, Google has focused on scalability, providing privacy-centric measurement, and machine learning, which has expanded the integration possibilities of the platform; which will each transform the way we are able to analyse data collected.
What is the difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics?
As well as being able to view all data in the same view and a new interface, here are a few of the key differences between GA4 compared to UA.
While UA primarily centred around individual user sessions on desktop, which meant additional work was previously required to see the full customer journey, GA4 can measure a single user journey across devices and profiles.
This ensures that you will be able to get a comprehensive look at how your users interact with your brand, whether they’re on your website, your app, or both.
This update also makes conversion tracking more efficient as you can see the entire journey a user takes, regardless of what device or platform they’re using, from start to finish.
Improved data model
Moving away from a session-based data model that focuses on sessions and page views, GA4 will instead use event-based tracking that will provide a more in-depth look at the actions users are taking on your website or app.
You will still be able to see session data, but event-based tracking ensures that interactions such as form downloads and page scrolls will be automatically measured easily and will eradicate the need for custom code to be added to your website.
Modern tracking and privacy practices
In response to the evolving nature of consumer behaviours and to adapt to the new privacy landscape, GA4 will start reducing this reliance on cookies to record certain events across platforms/devices by using APIs to ‘fill the gaps’ where data may be incomplete or inaccessible.
GA4 will give you control of exactly which users you collect data on and how that data is used in ad campaigns, all the while helping you to remain GDPR compliant.
Your visitor data is kept secure and is not shared across other domains, allowing you to respect your users’ privacy while collecting valuable data.
Do I need to switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) now?
The switch to GA4 is mandatory, so if you have an existing Google Analytics account we would highly recommend updating your Google Analytics to GA4 now to get a head start before July 2023. This is to ensure that you can track as much data as possible before UA is cut off and you don’t potentially lose any data during the switch.
If no action is taken by March, Google will automatically start to configure a GA4 account for you. However, this will be set up with a few basic settings consistent with any existing UA property, including conversion events and existing website tags.
Therefore, we strongly recommend that you start the process as soon as possible.
Ready to make the switch? Click here for our complete guide on our to upgrade to GA4.
Need help with migrating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
With our expertise, we can help you implement GA4 and get started, and define goals and conversions.