There’s a huge change coming to how you measure your website traffic and analytics, and DRM wants to make sure you are aware of it, and act on the upcoming change before it’s too late. Google will be sunsetting its Universal Analytics (UA) web measurement tool at the end of June 2023. Chances are good that your organization’s website uses UA and if you’ve been waiting to update to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you must do so, at the latest, June 30th, 2023.
First, a bit of history. Google announced GA4 in October of 2020 as a response to consumers’ strong opinions on being tracked and Internet privacy laws and regulations being passed worldwide. GA4 was promised to be a measurement platform with cross-device measurement capabilities and that unified website and app measurement, all without using cookies or IP tracking, to comply with industries or countries with strict privacy laws.
We have heard from many marketers and business owners they are not enthused about making the switch from UA to GA4, but once we all get used to the change, we’ll be able to measure more things, and more important things, than ever before. It’ll just require a bit of work to get there.
Simply put – GA4 provides more data and is more customizable, meaning you can track what matters to you, not just what Google thinks matters to you.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Let’s start off by telling you what GA4 is not: it’s not simply an update of Universal Analytics. It’s an entirely new Google product that allows you to track and analyze your web and app data separately, or in one property.
GA4 also tracks your customers across multiple platforms and devices and leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide more insights into how users interact with your website and app.
Most importantly, GA4 will allow marketers and business owners to use and analyze what customers do, not just what they see.
As mentioned, GA4 is focused on privacy and allows you to be compliant with the latest privacy laws like Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act.)
It’s important to note that if you are using Universal Analytics, it will stop collecting data effective July 1, 2023, so now’s the time to add GA4 to your Google Analytics account.
What is the Difference Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4?
The three prominent differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 are that GA4 allows you to report both website and app activity, all measurements are now events, and GA4 uses predictive analytics.
UA couldn’t track users from website to app, or from laptop to smartphone. GA4 can. This cross-platform tracking allows you to see your entire customer journey, from acquisition, to engagement, conversion, and retention. That’s a marketer’s dream!
All Measurements are Now ‘Events’
With UA as your web measurement tool, page views were the most important metric. GA4 takes a different approach, with all measurements being called events. This allows users to see website and app interaction and engagement rather than just a simplistic ‘view.’
New GA4 engagement metrics include:
- Engaged sessions
- Engagement rate
- Engagement time
Of course, GA4 also tracks demographics, attribution, locations, etc.
The new dimensions in GA4 might require a learning curve, but they will provide more data, and more actionable data.
GA4 provides predictive metrics, which means it allows you to make data-driven decisions. It’s an upgrade over UA because although past behaviors help you understand your audience, they don’t help you make informed, proactive decisions.
What do GA4 predictive analytics look like? Its AI-driven metrics include:
- Purchase probability
- Churn probability
- Revenue prediction
Those are powerful insights that allow you to target specific audiences with Google Ads campaigns or social media campaigns and create customized funnels for different audiences based on their behaviors and needs.
What Are the Benefits of Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is a leap forward in providing insights that matter and can be acted upon by leveraging Google’s machine learning and AI built for the soon-to-be-here cookie-less future.
It Tracks Events – What People Do
UA is pageview-driven and provides relatively flat metrics, such as number of sessions, duration, the number of users and new users, etc. GA4 is driven by customer actions that help you understand the customer lifecycle. GA4 can track events such as file downloads, page scrolls, video start, progress, and complete, onsite search results, promotion views, add to cart, and many more.
It Unifies Website and App Usage
GA4 unifies app and website activity and collects events for both, whereas UA required separate tagging and separate properties providing inconsistent metrics.
It Embraces the Future of Data Collection
As 3rd-party data collection is abandoned, Google has shifted to using anonymized first-party data, along with consented tracking – server-side actions that move away from client-side actions that run afoul of privacy laws.
Should You Be Running Universal Analytics and Ga4 Side By Side?
Absolutely yes! If you already have a UA account and/or properties set up, you should add a GA4 property to run side by side with UA, which Google allows you to do.
This allows to you see and use your historical UA data and compare it to GA4 data, although you’ll want to start getting used to the data GA4 provides. Remember, if you’re using Universal Analytics, you will need to create a GA4 property before UA is sunset July 1, 2023.
We hope this helps explain Google Analytics 4, why it’s replacing Universal Analytics, what it will do for you and your business, and what you need to do to get up and running.
DRM is a marketing agency, strong in digital, that uses creativity to connect your brand to your audience and help your business grow. We were founded to do what we are passionate about: Putting creativity to work and connecting brands to their audience, connecting audiences to your company goals, and connecting your business to the success it deserves. Contact us today!