In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing and analytics, it's essential for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. With the arrival of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the industry is witnessing a major shift in how data is collected and analyzed.
Here is the list of main changes that were introduced by Google Analytics 4:
- Enhanced cross-platform tracking: GA4 offers improved cross-platform tracking that allows businesses to gain a better understanding of user interactions across different devices and platforms, including mobile apps.
- Enhanced User-Centric Approach: GA4 places a strong emphasis on user-centric data tracking, enabling businesses to gain a deeper understanding of user behavior across different devices and platforms. With the integration of machine learning, GA4 provides valuable insights into customer journeys and engagement, empowering businesses to make data-driven decisions.
- Event-Based Tracking: Unlike Universal Analytics that primarily relies on pageviews, GA4 introduces event-based tracking as the core method for data collection. This allows businesses to capture a broader range of interactions such as scrolling, video views, and file downloads, providing a more comprehensive view of user engagement and behavior.
- Privacy-Centric Design: As privacy regulations continue to evolve, GA4 is designed with privacy in mind, offering businesses tools and features to comply with data protection laws. This includes the ability to customize data retention periods, offering more control over the storage and usage of user data.
- Unified Reporting and Audience Integration: GA4 streamlines reporting by combining app and web data, providing a unified view of user interactions across different digital assets. Additionally, it offers seamless integration with Google Ads, allowing businesses to create more targeted audiences based on user behavior insights.
- Free BigQuery Connection: One of the most compelling features of GA4 is the free integration with Google BigQuery. This powerful combination allows businesses to export their GA4 data directly to BigQuery and combine it there with data from their CRM or other platforms. This enables businesses to conduct advanced analysis, create custom reports, and perform cross-channel data analysis using SQL queries on large datasets, create custom audiences using data from multiple sources, all without incurring additional costs for data storage and processing.The integration with BigQuery unlocks the potential for businesses to harness the full value of their data, providing the flexibility and scalability to derive deeper insights and power more advanced analytics processes.
Although migration to GA4 is a step to making more informed decisions some Unioversal Analytics users feel sceptic about moving to Google Analytics 4. It is because of the difference in data models and interfaces migration to Google Analytics 4 requires quite a lot of efforts from both the development and marketing teams.
On the developers’ site it is required to adopt all the dataLayer structures, make adjustments to the events and parameters that are sent to Google Analytics. In case Google Tag Manager (GTM) was used for tracking implementation of Universal Analytics this transition will be a bit easier because the templates for transformation of the data structures can be used. In case GTM was not used before it makes sense to consider using it on this stage.
For the marketing and analytics specialists should get used to the new interface and features that GA4 has intoduced. All the reports in GA4 are customizable. However the interface that is used for building the reports is significantly different from the Universal Analytics interface.
Explorations is the new and very powerful feature of Google Analytics 4.
Transitioning to a new analytics platform always involves a learning curve, and users may initially struggle with understanding the new terminology, reporting structure, and best practices for using GA4 effectively.
In conclusion, the migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 represents a significant leap forward in the capabilities of digital analytics. With its user-centric approach, event-based tracking, privacy-centric design, and integrated reporting, GA4 equips businesses with the tools needed to understand their customers more deeply and make informed decisions. Furthermore, the free BigQuery connection opens up opportunities for advanced data analysis and customization, empowering businesses to leverage their data to drive growth and innovation.