GA4: the Next Generation of Google Analytics
The next generation of Google Analytics is here. Here is what you need to know about Google Analytics 4 (GA4) before Universal Analytics (UA) stops collecting data on July 1, 2023.
New Google Analytics 4 Features
Unified App + Web Analytics
Until now, Universal Analytics has tracked website engagement while app engagement tracking has required separate measurements using Google Analytics for Firebase. GA4 tracks website and app engagement on a unified platform offering cross-platform analysis to provide a clearer picture of the user journey across all platforms. It is especially helpful for seeing how your digital advertising efforts are attracting users to your website.
UA focuses on collecting session data hit types that tell you how many users were doing a specific action on specific pages at specific times. Hit types include page views, transactions, social media interactions, user timing, and more.
Now GA4 allows you to collect event-based data, where any interaction with your website is categorized as an event, without doing additional work in Google Tag Manager (GTM). The shift to the event-based model provides more data about the full customer lifecycle before and after acquiring a new customer.
As a part of setting up your GA4 account, you will begin receiving automatically collected events and enhanced measurement events. You can also implement recommended events and custom events tracking with additional setup time.
A downside of the new event-based model that you have to manually resolve is that GA4 and GTM track the same events, duplicating the event data you are collecting.
Learn more about your customers and their behaviors on your website with Google machine-learning-powered data analysis. The Analytics Insights feature automatically summarizes data trends, anomalies, and custom conditions to track your data. Once GA4 has collected enough user data from your website, you’ll receive predictive metrics to inform your website strategy, including:
Purchase probability: The probability that a user who was active in the last 28 days will log a specific conversion event within the next 7 days.
Churn probability: The probability that a user who was active on your app or site within the last 7 days will not be active within the next 7 days.
Predicted revenue: The revenue expected from all purchase conversions within the next 28 days from a user who was active in the last 28 days.
Improved User Privacy
GA4 introduced new privacy control features as a part of Google’s efforts to track meaningful data for businesses while meeting increased demands for improved user privacy.
- IP anonymization: GA4 processes anonymized IP addresses for geo-location data, but does not store the IP addresses.
- Data retention limit: GA4 shortens the period an account can retain unaggregated user data to either 2 or 14 months. In comparison, with UA you could set intervals of up to 14 months, or choose to not automatically expire any user data.
- Consent mode: GA4 uses machine learning to model the behavior of users who decline analytics cookie tracking based on the behavior of similar users who have opted into cookies.
- Data deletion requests: delete unwanted data or an individual user’s entire data profile by submitting a request to Google.
While the new privacy features are a welcome addition to the new analytics platform, there isn’t the same visibility into the data privacy thresholds that have been available in UA.
Comparing Year-over-year Data
Looking at year-over-year (YoY) data collected with GA4 isn’t going to be an apples-to-apples comparison with UA. However, you can compare the new GA4 metrics with the old metrics of UA if you know how to contextualize the data. For example, the engagement rate in GA4 is the new bounce rate in UA, just the inverse. Whereas UA was tracking the undesired behavior — leaving a website — GA4 is now tracking the opposite positive behavior.
Some metrics are keeping the same name, but have different rules for how data is being collected. Sessions for example may be lower in GA4 compared to what you are used to seeing in UA because session counts are no longer being restarted at midnight or when new campaign parameters are encountered.
What Does This Mean for Adpearance Clients?
Adpearance client accounts have already been migrated from UA to GA4 and are collecting the historical data needed to make data-informed decisions when UA stops collecting data on July 1.
Worried about drawing meaningful insights from your YoY data? Adpearance has a custom solution that blends GA4 and UA data to enable our clients to see YoY reporting without skipping a beat.
Need Help Migrating to Google Analytics 4?
About the Author
Adpearance is the digital marketing company obsessed with generating quality leads. Our solutions combine cutting-edge technology, premium tracking, and an expert team to transform business results.
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