Why You Need to Switch to Google Analytics 4 ASAP

Google Analytics 4 is a whole new beast when it comes to data tracking on website and apps. Here’s why you need to make the switch in 2023.

Is your business prepared for the retirement of Univeral Analytics?

Make the Switch to Google Analytics 4 by July 2023

You might have been seeing this Doomsday Clock every time you log onto Google Analytics:

That’s because Google has officially revealed the date of Universal Analytics’ retirement. Mark your calendars. It’s going to be on July 1, 2023. After that, all websites have to migrate over to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Note: You can still access any previously processed data on Universal Analytics until July 1, 2024. (Originally end of 2023, but Google extended it to give businesses more time for the transition. 

Google states: “We’re focusing our efforts and investments on Google Analytics 4 to deliver a solution built to adapt to a changing ecosystem. Because of this, throughout 2023 we’ll be shifting support away from Universal Analytics 360 and will move our full focus to Google Analytics 4 in 2024.

For digital ads, it’s vital to have up-to-date and accurate data. That’s why brands must migrate to Google Analytics 4 ASAP. The earlier you do so, you’ll be able to start building a wealth of historical data before the official retirement of Universal Analytics. Plus, you’ll already be a pro with GA4 when summer 2023 rolls around.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the features, benefits, and best practices for Google Analytics 4. Take a look at our Table of Contents and feel free to jump to a section that best interests you!

Table Of Contents

A Quick Recap

  • Universal Analytics (UA) was founded on measuring insights from metadata and cookies. Ad tech is moving towards a more responsible and transparent landscape, which means it will become less sustainable.
  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was developed with a focus on user privacy. It will provide a better digital experience for advertisers and audiences alike by collecting data (of consenting users) and staying resilient against evolving digital privacy laws.

Google says Google Analytics 4 will:

  • Deliver a stronger analytics experience
  • Have the flexibility to measure different types of data
  • Bridge the gap between your customer journey and from website to app
  • Utilize Google’s machine learning AI to provide insights on user behavior and conversions
  • Be the future of web analytics.

Advertisers can then flexibly use sophisticated, predictive insights to plan for future strategies.

Transitioning from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is technical and requires attention to detail. As an award-winning advertising agency, we know that data is king. That’s why we take care of data migration and tracking for all our clients.

Here is Google’s overview video for Google Analytics 4:

How Do I Get Started with Google Analytics 4?

Here at War Room, we aim to be the frontrunner for industry trends and algorithm updates.

Our team has proactively educated ourselves on the benefits of GA4 in the past year. We are now happy to announce our services for this transitional implementation.

A. Google Analytics 4 Setup

Our team can help you properly set up and implement your new or existing Google Analytics account in this service.

This includes:

  • Tracking IDs
  • View & Data Streams
  • Event Tracking set-ups, and automation
  • User and event data retention
  • eCommerce tracking
  • Cross-device & cross-platform tracking
  • Attribution modeling
  • Custom Dimensions and Report set-up and more


Additional Add Ons Include:

  • Enhanced e-commerce tracking
  • Google Tag Manager (GTM) Server Setup
  • GA4 Web
  • GA4 Server Container


You can pick and choose which option best fits your business needs!

B. Google Analytics 4 Set Up & Implementation

Does your business have a website and an app? In this option, we will help you create a GA4 account from scratch and set it up so you can begin eCommerce data tracking.

C. Google Analytics 4 eCommerce Migration & Set-Up & Tracking

This package includes migrating eCommerce data collection from Universal Analytics to GA4. We’ll update e-commerce events and parameters from UA to GA4, to ensure a seamless data collection for your eCommerce site. We also provide enhanced eCommerce tracking. Connect with us to learn more.

D. Google Analytics Setup and Configuration

We will set up your Google Analytics account and take care of the configuration. True data integrity starts here.

Check out our Advertising Institute for our latest digital marketing resources.
Or, fill out the form below, and let’s discuss how we can support you with advertising and data!

Features of Google Analytics 4

Here are some of the new features you can expect from Google Analytics 4:

New Data Modelling

In Universal Analytics, the data model is session-based, which means that all user activity within a specific session is grouped together. This includes various types of interactions, such as page views, clicks, and form submissions, which are all recorded as “hits” within the session.

The new Google Analytics 4 uses an event-based data model, where each individual action taken by the user is recorded as an event. These events can be anything from clicking on a link, playing a video, or adding an item to the cart.

The key difference between the two models is that:

  • In Universal Analytics, the session is the unit of analysis
  • In Google Analytics 4, the focus is on individual user actions.

This means that with event-based modelling, you can gain a more granular understanding of user behavior, as you can see each specific action a user takes, rather than just seeing them as part of a session.

For marketers, this change is significant because it allows for a more user-centric approach to analyzing data. You can see exactly what actions users are taking on your site, which can help you optimize your website and marketing efforts to better meet their needs and preferences. This can lead to higher engagement and conversions, which can ultimately help grow your business.

Event-Based, User-Centric Dashboard + “Explorations” Feature

In Universal Analytics, when you log in to the dashboard, you see multiple reports that you can click on to see more information about user behavior on your website. Each report may have sub-reports that you can expand to see even more details about specific aspects of your website traffic.

On the other hand, in Google Analytics 4, the home page has been redesigned to align better with the event-based and user-centric structure. The reports have been consolidated to provide a clearer and more holistic view of user behavior.

Additionally, GA4 has a new feature called “Explorations,” which allows you to choose from various templates or create custom explorations to better understand the customer journey.

AI-powered Features for Insights and Predictions

GA4 uses a machine learning-based data model that provides more accurate and actionable insights. This helps businesses to make data-driven decisions with confidence, knowing that the data they are working with is accurate and up-to-date.

Currently, there are three predictive metrics supported by GA4:

  • Predictive probability: This predicts the probability that a user who was active on your website in the last 28 days will purchase something in the next seven days.

    Marketers can use predictive probability to identify which users are most likely to make a purchase in the next seven days based on their behavior on the website. This information can be used to tailor paid campaigns to those users and encourage them to make a booking or purchase, like buying a ticket for an upcoming exhibit.

  • Churn probability: This predicts the probability that a user who was active on your website within the last seven days will not be active within the next seven days.

    For example, eCommerce brands can use churn probability to identify users who visited the site but didn’t purchase, and run retargeting campaigns to capture the conversion through exclusive discounts etc.

  • Revenue prediction: This predicts the expected revenue from all purchases made by users who were active in the last 28 days, in the next 28 days.
    Attractions that offer online ticket sales can use revenue prediction to identify which users are most likely to make a purchase in the next 28 days.

    This information can be used to personalize marketing efforts to those users, such as email campaigns or paid ads with special offers to encourage them to make a purchase.

More Visibility Into Customer Lifecycles and Cross-Platform Tracking

This means that you can visualize user journeys across platforms, whether they’re interacting with your brand on your website, on social media, or on a mobile app. By tracking user behavior across all of these platforms, you can better understand your customers and their preferences, which can help you make better marketing decisions.

For example, you can see how users first discovered your brand on social media, then moved on to your website to learn more about your product offering, and finally made a purchase through your mobile app. This type of insight can help you optimize your marketing efforts and create a more seamless user experience for your customers across all platforms.

In UA, it’s all separated in different views, whereas with GA4 going forward, it’s all consolidated into a central view for easy reporting with a holistic look at the customer journey.

The Future of Google Analytics 4

The future of GA4 is promising, with a focus on continued innovation and improvement. Some of the new features and capabilities that are likely to be added in the coming years include:
 
Advanced Machine Learning

GA4 already uses machine learning to provide advanced tracking and reporting capabilities, but this is expected to become even more sophisticated in the future. For instance, GA4 might use machine learning algorithms to automatically identify the most valuable customer segments for your business and recommend targeted marketing strategies to reach them.

 
Improved Cross-Device Tracking

Consumers often use multiple devices when researching and making purchases online. GA4 is expected to add more advanced cross-device tracking capabilities, allowing you to see how customers are interacting with your brand across all their devices.

Increased Data Privacy & Security

GA4 might introduce features that allow you to encrypt certain types of data or give customers more control over their data preferences.

Enhanced eCommerce Tracking

Google will continue to add more advanced eCommerce tracking capabilities, which will be particularly useful for businesses that sell products or services online.

For instance, GA4 might allow you to track the entire customer journey from browsing to purchase, providing valuable insights into the success of your online efforts.

Integration with Other Google Products

GA4 will continue to integrate with more Google products, which will help you to optimize your marketing efforts across all channels, from social media to paid search.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a new kind of property in Google Analytics. It was previously known in its beta phase as “App + Web”, but is now the default version of Google Analytics (GA).

The original Google Analytics as we know it is called Universal Analytics, and it only supports tracking websites.

On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 tracks both website and app data. That means on the GA4 platform, you will see different reports unique from Universal Analytics. 

Here is a video walkthrough of the Google Analytics 4 User Interface:

Now, when you create a new property on Google Analytics, by default, the option would be to create GA4 only as seen here:


If you click on Advanced Options, you could still create a Universal Analytics property. However, you can see Google states that they do not recommend users use Universal Analytics.

 

What’s New with Google Analytics 4?

The creation of GA4 is Google’s shift to a “privacy-first” approach to cross-channel data tracking. The goal is to focus on the user and their journey.

With GA4, marketers will be able to track users across your website, software, and app.

Different Data Modelling

Universal Analytics has always gathered its data based on sessions. For example, a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions.

Google Analytics 4 runs on a user-based model that collects data in the form of events. In fact, GA4 automatically tracks a host of events to fulfill the essential reporting requirements of the platform.

AI-Powered Predictive Data & Metrics

Powered by Google’s AI machine learning, GA4 will leverage artificial intelligence to fill in the gaps and connect the dots of user behavior and website data without relying on traffic hits on each webpage (cookie tracking).

What if you could predict which users have the highest chance of making a purchase next month? What if you could also predict how much revenue they would purchase?

With GA4, it will provide predictive metrics so marketers can give them a “push” to convert! These metrics include: purchase probability, revenue prediction, and churn probability.

These are some examples:

  • A user who was active in the last 28 days who will buy in the next 7 days
  • Expected revenue in the next 28 days from a user who has been active in the last 28 days
  • How likely a user (who was previously active in the last 7 days) will become inactive in the next 7 days


The more data you have of user behavior on your website and app, the better the predictive audience analysis will be.

You’ll be able to utilize these metrics and create segments of predictive audiences. Say hello to highly-targeted campaigns, even with the inevitable future of no more cookie tracking.

Currently, there are only three predictive metrics supported by GA4:

  • Predictive probability: that a user who was active in the last 28 days will purchase something in the next seven days.
  • Churn probability: the probability that a user who was active on your site within the last seven days will not be active within the next seven days.
  • Revenue prediction: the predicted revenue expected from all purchases in the next 28 days from the users who were active in the last 28 days.


In order to see these predictive events, you must configure a ‘purchase’ event and send it to GA4. Larger businesses with considerable traffic who naturally have a larger sample size will benefit more from this feature than small businesses.

Unfortunately, these predictive metrics likely aren’t going to be overly relevant for most destination marketers right now, but museums, hotels, and attractions who offer online ticket sales certainly could take advantage of them.

Events

A primary metric for GA4 is events. When users interact with your website or app, events are triggered and tracked. This could be page views, button clicks or form submissions, etc.

A lot of these events are collected by default. There are Automatically Collected Events and also “enhanced measure events”, which can be collected if you enable the option. This can be done through the Admin Page within the GA4 property.

On the other hand, if you need to track more advanced data, you could add code to track custom events. Google Analytics offers a guide on how to modify or create events with the user interface.

For advanced data, Analytics Help categorizes them into Recommended Events and Custom Events.

Recommended Events would be implemented on the user’s end, but possess pre-defined names and parameters set by Google. You can look at the whole list of Recommended Events for all properties, online sales, and games by Google here.

Custom Events are named and implemented on the user end. Note, it’s important to double-check if any other events already track what you want, or you might end up with duplicate data!

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics give you insight into how long users spend on your website or app. By tracking it, you will be able to pinpoint which pages and screens were the most visited and had the most triggered events.

An engaged session lasts for at least 10 seconds and has at least one conversion event or involves two page views.

You’ll be able to figure out which pages are performing well and have content holding users’ attention. You can then look at your pages with low engagement and make optimizations.

Data Integration to Big Query

Direct integration was previously only available to Google Analytics 360. Google Analytics 360 is the enterprise tool version of GA, which enables advanced tools such as data-driven attribution and BigQuery exports.

BigQuery is a fully-managed enterprise data warehouse that helps manage and analyze data. It allows marketers to turn big data into valuable insights for their business. It also features built-in machine learning functionalities.

Having this tool now integrated into GA4 will give you an edge to decipher data!

This video gives you a quick summary:

Unsampled Data & Reports

Another feature that was previously only available for Google Analytics 360 is unsampled data.

Now, any business with a GA4 property will get unsampled data without needing an enterprise account.

Google Analytics samples your reports based on the number of sessions you have.

You might see a disclaimer at the top of your report that says something like, “This report is based on X sessions”. This means the report is based on sampled data. Sampling happens automatically if a report is collecting more than 500,000 sessions.

The reason for this is that Google processes A LOT of data every day. To process data quickly and achieve the best they can with accuracy and speed, they randomly sample a portion of your traffic data.

Here’s a visual example of sampling from Supermetrics:

 

 

This means that samples don’t necessarily represent the full picture. For example, you ran two campaigns side to side: A and B. Campaign A achieved a 7% conversion rate, whereas Campaign B had an 11% conversion rate. You might easily conclude that Campaign B was the winner. However, the sampling used by Google Analytics might mean that it doesn’t represent the whole story, and there might not be an actual difference between the two campaigns.

Now, with Google Analytics 4, your data and reports will be unsampled by default.

Extended Segmentations

GA4 enables you to create more-targeted audience segments for your marketing campaigns. You can now create segments based on events, which isn’t an option for UA. This means you’ll be able to hone in on users and their interactions without having to divide it up by platform type or device. You can add in the concept of time and analyze things like the time users spent between the different customer journey stages.

Whenever you publish a new audience segment, it is automatically shared to your Google Ads account, which means running campaigns with precision-targeted audiences is as easy as 1-2-3.

More Visibility into Customer Lifecycles & Cross-Platform Tracking

Do you have a host of microsites for various campaigns, or a custom app that services visitors? Well, now you can bring all that juicy data under one property with GA4. With cross-platform tracking, you can now visualize user journeys across platforms.

In conclusion:

With all these new features and benefits, combined with the wealth of data and insights that GA4 provides, it’s going to be a powerful tool for businesses and marketers.

Whether it’s improving website experience, optimizing marketing campaigns, or tracking the success of online sales efforts, GA4 can help businesses to achieve their goals and drive growth.

 

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