If you have logged into your Google Analytics account recently, you were greeted by a large and intimidating countdown clock urging you to create the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property. There is no need to panic! We are going to break down what GA4 is and what to expect.
What Is Google Analytics 4?
Two and half years ago, the Google Analytics team announced the creation of the new marketing platform, Google Analytics 4. With the increasing updates in privacy laws in different countries and states, Google felt this change was necessary to help businesses navigate new challenges to understand the complex, multi-platform journeys of customers — all while prioritizing user privacy.
There are many fundamental differences between GA4 and Universal Google Analytics. Most importantly is that this new platform leverages AI and machine learning to provide detailed insights into the user journey across the website and app activity.
With this more advanced way of tracking data, Google is encouraging users not only to migrate GA data to the new GA4 property but change the strategy in tracking and data they are collecting for the business. The ability to track data across your website and applications is not the only change in this new platform. From event tracking to the account structure, here are the most notable changes in GA4.
- The New Dashboard. Many of the reporting tabs used in the Universal Google Analytics dashboard are gone or have been streamlined, with fewer tabs to open. Google also has a home page that provides businesses with predictive insights using Google’s AI.
- App tracking. Users can now track both website and app activity in the same property. This will make the ability to combine data much easier than the old GA platform.
- Event tracking. Events have been simplified. Universal Google Analytics utilized both Events and Goal Completions which were monitored in different reporting areas. Now all key user data is considered an “event” in the GA4 platform.
- Session calculations. Sessions will be calculated more accurately. If a session on a website continues past midnight or if the user leaves and comes back, GA4 will still interpret that as a single session.
- Engagement rate. This is a new metric that will be replacing the long-used (and most of the time avoided/archaic metric) Bounce Rate. This was previously used to show which users came to your site but left after only visiting one page. This was unhelpful because it didn’t fully capture user behavior and journey on that page. Maybe it was a contact form and they didn’t need to progress further? The new engagement rate metric will use the formula of sessions that lasted at least 10 seconds, had at least 1 conversion event, or had at least 2 page / screen views.
- Google Tag Manager Increased Use. Google Tag Manager makes it easier to manage your profiles without a developer. GA4 will rely on Google Tag Manager more heavily. All goals are event-based in GA4, so you must know how to track custom events in Google Tag Manager.
- Account Structure. In the old Google Analytics the account structure has three main elements: Account, Property, and View. Many users relied on Views to separate their data, for example removing long unnecessary parameters from data. In GA4, there is only the Account and Property, but Data Streams are being introduced. With multiple Data Streams, businesses can use applications on multiple platforms like Android or iOS and you can separate them to track individual platform performance.
How will it affect me?
Universal Google Analytics properties will stop processing new data on July 1, 2023, and 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new data on July 1, 2024. After that, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics for at least six months. Google states that they will provide a date in the future when you will no longer be able to access or see Universal Google Analytics reports.
What are your options?
If you choose not to act on this news, after July 1, 2023, your Universal Google Analytics will no longer collect data. In the future, you will no longer have access to your old Google Analytics data at all.
If you decide to migrate to GA4, it’s important to switch soon to build historical data before Universal Analytics stops processing new hits.
Need help with your GA4 migration? We’re helping a number of our clients take care of that doomsday clock, and we’d be happy to help you, too. Contact Us for more information https://clevermethod.com/contact