Google has just released its latest generation analytics model Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new model comes with a set of major changes helpful for website owners to track user data more effectively as compared to how it’s done in universal analytics. Over the years, the current model of Google Analytics has helped to track user data on websites. Businesses around the globe continuously monitor this data to make improvements to their websites in an effort to increase traffic engagement and retain customers. While this may be true, Google Analytics 4 may bring a major evolution in tracking practices of website owners.
In this article, we will have a close look at the key features of GA4 and also talk about how the new analytics model can be helpful for businesses in tracking user data more effectively.
Google Analytics 4 – An Overview
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest generation of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) that represents an entirely new model of online data tracking. It is important to know that GA4 is not just an update to the existing model. It is, in fact, a whole new platform that uses a unique approach for collecting, storing, and filtering user data to help businesses develop a better understanding of the audience’s behaviors. Since it is a platform shift, businesses will need to collect historical data within GA4 before the final switch from Universal Analytics to GA4. It is safe to assume that most businesses have a lot of historical data stored in the current analytics model. Therefore, it will take time to collect this data into the GA4 model. As per Google, it will at least take 18 months before the eventual shift to GA4 from Universal Analytics. Businesses can utilize this time to ensure that all the historical data is collected in the meantime to avoid any problems later.
If you are wondering whether switching to GA4 is an option, the answer is no. All businesses are bound to migrate to GA4 and should start to prepare for the eventual transition starting this month.
What To Expect from GA4
The key aim of Google Analytics 4 is to effectively meet all the modern marketing needs of businesses globally. It is safe to say that we are now set to move into the mass adoption phase of machine learning for digital marketing. According to Google, there is a big roadmap of new features expected to roll out in the coming months. Some of the major updates we can expect to find in GA4 are mentioned below.
No More Session Tracking
The current model of Google Analytics tracks sessions – an activity over a specific time frame. However, with the GA4 update, Google will no longer be tracking sessions. It will instead track events or interactions of users. As per Google, “Events can collect and send pieces of information that more fully specify the action the user took or add further context to the event or user. The benefit is a more customer-centric approach to tracking, and prioritizing people over sessions, which will provide greater insight and help optimize the user experience”.
This new feature in the GA4 update focuses on helping marketers track the most common user actions without updating website tags. This feature is highly beneficial for small and medium businesses as it allows straightforward tracking that can be easily set up by a small team of digital marketing. Common actions may include file downloads, video views, scrolling, site search, outbound clicks, and page views.
Multiple Device Tracking
Currently, tracking user data across multiple devices is a big challenge for marketers. With the rise of cross-platform applications and business channels, it has become inevitably important to be able to track all the user data from one place. All thanks to the GA4 update that will solve this problem for good. Users signed in to Google in their browsers as well as from other platforms will provide a much more detailed view of their experience in the GA4 platform.
No More Channel Groupings
This feature may or may not please a lot of businesses. Currently, most marketers rely on custom channel groupings to measure and optimize channel performance. This option will most likely go away in the latest data model. However, you can still go to Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition and change the default filter from medium to source to work around it. Marketers will now need to maintain a rather disciplined way of using UTM links for all media channels.
Better Predictions & Insights
GA4 is a Machine Learning (ML) integrated data model. ML is the future of data analytics. With the help of ML, large enterprises monitor market trends and predict precise outcomes. With ML coming to Google Analytics 4, we can expect an enhanced functionality to get a better sense of what to do and what not to do for different business structures and sizes. Businesses can dig deeper into the user insights to optimize their marketing strategy in their best interest.
The arrival of the GA4 update is indeed great news for businesses around the globe. However, it is important to know that shifting to GA4 from Universal Analytics may need steep learning. While this may be true, Google will allow a decent period of time for businesses to develop an understanding of how to get the best use out of GA4 while Univeral Analytics is still here.