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Everything You Need to Know about Google Analytics 4

by: Alex Lynch

The Time to Prepare for Google Analytics 4 is Now 

After about a decade of Google’s Universal Analytics being the standard for web data, Google has announced it will replace it with Google Analytics 4 on July 1, 2023. This means in a year’s time; your existing analytics account will stop collecting data, leaving you completely in the dark if you don’t act. And if you want to preserve that year over year comparison, you’ll want to set up this new property prior to July 1, 2022 – which is quickly approaching!  

Introducing the New Generation of Analytics 

Google Analytics 4 (GA4), formerly known as “App + Web”, measures traffic and engagement across sites and apps whereas Universal Analytics required these sources to be tracked separately. GA4 is optimized for both mobile and desktop tracking and is event based rather than just sessions which shifts the data to focus on the user journey from the very first interaction all the way through the final conversion. Moreover, this new analytics is built with a privacy first mindset, preparing us all for the inevitable death of third-party cookies. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to fill cookie-less data gaps. So, for some highly regulated industries or organizations with strict privacy policies that prohibited the use of Google Analytics, you might just be in luck and be able to unleash its potential with GA4. If you want to learn more about what a cookie-less future could mean, check out this blog.  

Maybe this is all a little overwhelming. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of the key changes you can expect.  

  • Event-based measurement model versus session based giving more actionable data. 
  • Four categories of events that are automatically collected (can minimize the number of tags needed in Google Tag Manager).  
  • Shorter user and event data retention. Data will only be available up to 14 months. 
  • No more bounce rate. Instead, it’s being replaced with engagement rate.
  • Anonymizes IP addresses by default and cannot be changed.
  • No unique pageviews. Pageviews metric is now a combination of pageviews and screen views on mobile and desktop.
  • Exploration reports allows you to better understand the user journey and opportunities to improve your website. 
  • Conversions based on multiple conditions (for example, a user viewed a video before filling out a contact form).  

 Why It Matters 

  • Cross-device tracking is particularly beneficial during longer sales cycles when multiple devices are used to perform research.  
  • Privacy first model and compliant with new data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. 
  • Conditional conversions to identify conversions based on a certain action taken prior to purchase or a minimum purchase level. 

What to Do Next 

While you may be thinking, July 2023 is a full year away, configuring your Google Analytics 4 property now before July 1st of this year will preserve your year-over-year comparisons which is a valuable measurement of your business’s improvement and success over time. You’ll also need to set up any custom events and conversions you want to track in your new GA4 property as well as set up or revise existing reports to reflect the new metrics and data methodology. You may also want to reevaluate what your organization considers a conversion versus a notable event to make the most of GA4’s modeling. Finally, be sure to backup any data from Universal Analytics before the end of 2023 to preserve all the valuable information you have collected over the years. 

Needless to say, there are a lot of changes and important procedures that come with the sunsetting of Universal Analytics and the introduction of Google Analytics 4. While GA4 comes with a plethora of benefits for every industry, it may also come with feelings of stress and uncertainty. If you need guidance on how to make GA4 really work for your business, contact us today. The experts at SilverTech will be happy to help.