Google Analytics 4 is here to stay. And change is a must if you want to continue to analyse your metrics.

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was recently released and will replace the current version of Universal Analytics. The big difference with GA4 when compared to the current version is the tracking of interactions without the use of cookies. Developed in response to more stringent rules and regulations controlling data collection and storage, GA4, in line with strict privacy criteria, uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to enable its users to discover new statistics to improve their marketing efforts.

Google Analytics 4 is, in this sense, a predictive analytics tool, where key insights are based on probabilities. This new approach makes GA4 not just a traffic analysis tool, but a business intelligence tool, by recording user behaviour in a much more fluid way.

How does Google Analytics 4 work?

Unlike Google Analytics Universal, which was based on page views (i.e. every time a website page loaded, Analytics collected data) and very website-focused, Google Analytics 4 is adapted to meet current market trends. In other words, GA4 analyses data on 3 fronts (APP’s, Web and APP + Web). The form of analysis in the new GA version is based on event counting. But what are events anyway? Events are described as the interactions that the user performs on your website or APP. For example: clicking on a CTA, doing a search, scrolling, among other actions. In other words, all types of actions that are performed by the user and that have the event configured for analysis are recorded by GA4.

What changes from the Universal version to the GA4 version?

GA4 is a tool that aims to make life easier for its users and offer more valuable impressions for all those who seek to increase sales, leads or audiences for their business. Thus, the main differences of GA4 to Universal Analytics are:

1. More flexible data model

Unlike with Google Analytics Universal, where a session-based model is used that groups user interactions into a specific time period, Google Analytics 4 uses an event-based measurement model, resulting in much more flexible and faster data collection.

2. Integrated, streamlined reporting

While Google Analytics Universal organizes data into numerous pre-defined reports, Google Analytics 4 provides more streamlined reports. That is, if the user wants a more detailed report, they can go beyond the settings already defined by default and customize specific collection settings by simply creating a new event collection report.

3. Consolidating data from different devices

One of the biggest benefits of GA4 is the ability to consolidate website and mobile app data into a single property.

This ability allows you to better understand the user conversion journey, correct attribution issues across devices, and get a more comprehensive view of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across all devices/platforms.

By bringing together, in an automated way and in the same property, the journeys performed by the same user across different devices, GA4 ensures that the data collected is more reliable.

4. More relevant impressions

Google Analytics 4, through machine learning tools provides predictive analytics capabilities that allow you to measure conversion progress. Currently GA4 supports three predictive metrics: purchase probability, churn probability and revenue prediction.

In this way, you can create audiences based on their behaviours and run much more effective retargeting campaigns which consequently results in an improved performance of your marketing actions.

5. Metrics optimised to ensure a more accurate record

In the Google Analytics Universal version, page views, navigation time, events and conversions were the most important metrics. In the GA4 version, all these measurements are now represented as events. In other words, all user interactions are measured separately.

In addition, Google Analytics 4 provides a new set of engagement metrics for much more accurate data recording:

– Engaged sessions;

– Engagement rate;

– Engagement sessions per user;

– Average engagement time.

6. Tracking of some events has been optimized

Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 allows the automatic tracking of certain types of events without any additional configuration. In addition to page view it can automatically measure website page scroll, exit clicks, website searches, interaction with videos and file downloads

7. Better tracking of the user journey

With GA4 it is possible to measure user interactions across all platforms or devices. Analytics 4 allows you to unite all the actions performed by a user, on two different devices, during their conversion process and create much more accurate reports, unlike with Universal Analytics.

This form of analysis of different platforms is very useful for recording each user’s journey in a complete way and, with this information, building effective sales funnels. By identifying the exact point in the purchase journey that a customer is at, it is much easier to define strategies suited to their profile.

8. Easier, unlimited conversion follow-up

In Google Analytics 4 you can easily mark any recorded event as a conversion, all it takes is one configuration. While the Google Analytics Universal version had a limit of 20 conversions, GA4 does not have any type of restrictions in terms of event configurations.

9. Better control of user privacy

Google Analytics 4 offers better user privacy control options. In the GA4 version it is only possible to retain specific data from an inactive user for only 14 months before it is automatically deleted. Additionally, the use of machine learning helps fill data gaps left by the absence of traditional cookies.

Why is it recommended to install GA4 quickly?

Although it is still almost a year before data is no longer collected in Analytics Universal, you should implement Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible because:

– Data acquisition starts from scratch. If you want to do yearly comparisons in July 2023, you will need to have your GA4 estate ready by the end of June this year.

– Possible competitive advantages can emerge earlier.

– You will have time to gain experience on the new platform.

Important data to retain:

– Until 30 June 2023 Universal Analytics will continue to collect the data.

– For the following six months you will have access to the old data and reports in the Universal Analytics properties.

– At the end of 2023, it will no longer be possible to access the Universal Analytics property.

If you want to find out more information about Google’s next-generation, you can read all about it here.