Since its release way back in 2005, Google Analytics has had a significant impact on the way we are able to monitor, measure and make changes to our website performance. Sure it’s been through many significant updates to improve its functionality and usability over the years, but this time, one of the most widely used analytics platforms on the web, is hitting us with a hefty update.
We all knew the change was coming but the announcement still made it all very real…
The release of Google Analytics 4 offers a range of new features including many that were previously available only to customers who paid for Analytics 360 – so watch out for a lot more functionality.
The most noticeable changes, compared to older versions, is that GA4 places a heavy focus on overcoming regulatory changes such as GDPR, can work with or without cookies and makes tracking users across multiple platforms much easier to achieve.
Here are some of the top-level benefits and improvements we expect to see rolled out with Google Analytics 4:
- More robust cross-device and cross-platform tracking
- Accurate reporting on unique users across platforms
- Advanced analysis reports available to all, not just 360 users
- Free BigQuery connection
- New metrics for more accurate tracking on your website
- Robust cross-platform insights
- Debugging within the interface
- No limits to data
- Automatic event tracking
Let’s have a closer look at what’s coming our way this time next year…
One of the main changes is the User Interface on the platform which is completely different from Universal Analytics predominantly on the navigation tab on the left hand side.
Google Analytics 4 Interface
Universal Analytics Interface
Another change is that GA4 is based on ‘events’ as opposed to the ‘sessions’ used by Universal Analytics. This change will force us to readdress how we think about attribution in the ‘cookieless future’. For example, visiting a page, watching a video or scrolling down a page.
It’s focused on giving a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.” And it seems that it’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey, and not just individual metrics across devices/pages/segments.
There is a focus more on users and audiences & not on sessions and pageviews. The new acquisition section comes with two sections: User acquisition and Traffic acquisition which gives more insights to how the user is interacting.
These are just a snapshot of the changes made by Google. We will continue to delve into the new functionality this platform offers over the coming months so stay tuned for updates.
So, what happens next?
Don’t panic – you have a little time before all of this really affects you and marketers can run Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 in parallel for now.
GA4 is still some way off from becoming the default Google Analytics platform, but it’ll get there eventually. Now’s the perfect time to start learning more about GA4—and collecting the information you’ll need to make comparisons in the future.
At SHR Group, we are rolling out GA4 for our customers as we want to start collecting GA4 data as soon as possible. The reason why is that when Google eventually switches to GA4 only, we are ready for the change with at least 12 months of data for year on year analysis.