A guest post by Your Sidekicks AG.
With Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google is creating a future-oriented solution to compensate for the ever-increasing effect of data protection measures. At the end of 2023, the old Universal Analytics features will be deleted. Find out how GA4 works, what the tool can do and how to find your way around.
Summary – Why the change and what does it mean for you?
The world of data collection is changing. An ever-growing need for data protection and privacy online is leading to new data protection laws such as the GDPR in the EU and the new GDPR in Switzerland (from mid-2023).
Big players like Google, Apple, Meta and Microsoft are reacting to the growing need for anonymity with corresponding software updates, such as Apple’s iOS 14 update or ad blockers activated by default in browsers.
Data protection is very important, but nevertheless these changes have repeatedly presented the digital marketing world with new challenges in recent years. Website and campaign tracking is becoming increasingly unreliable in the tools used to date. The data gaps in tools such as Universal Analytics are widening as a result of the above measures. Conversions are becoming harder to attribute, target groups are becoming less precise and targeting options are limited.
Google’s answer to this data gap problem is Google Analytics 4. Since October 2020 GA4 is no longer in the beta phase and is the new Google standard.
What does the change to Google Analytics 4 mean for you?
In March 2022, Google announced that all Universal Analytics properties will stop collecting data in July 2023 and that all data will be deleted at the end of 2023. So, our historical data from before that date will no longer be available.
The most pressing questions probably are:
This means that the sooner you can make the move to GA4, the better! The more data you have already collected in the GA4 Property before the end of your UA Property, the easier the move will be.
The new Analytics Generation – How does Google Analytics 4 work and what are the benefits?
Unlike UA, GA4 no longer works with “hit” data based on page views, but with machine learning models and can therefore collect and predict traffic data and visitor behaviour based on “events”.
The privacy-friendly approach is combined with predictive data from artificial intelligence (AI). This allows gaps to be closed that are created by the data protection measures mentioned above.
In GA4, every action performed on the website is thus tracked as an event. This makes it necessary to rethink the way we set up our website tracking, because the new approach not only allows us more flexibility in setting up tracking, but also more ownership.
The three fundamental changes in the way GA4 works in a nutshell:
What are the advantages of the change to Google Analytics 4?
Google is creating a future-oriented solution to compensate for the ever-increasing effect of data protection measures. Marketers need to rethink and get used to the new requirements and tools, the sooner the better.
Conclusion: GA4 is simpler, faster, and more versatile
Our Recommendation: Prompt Action will pay off.
At this point in time (September 2022), we recommend running a GA4 property in parallel with the UA property. The reason for this is that GA4 is still being developed further and does not yet contain all the functions that we are used to from Universal Analytics.
Google will delete all data from Google Universal Analytics at the end of 2023! This means that all historical data will be lost from this date. The data collection process itself will already be stopped as of July 2023.
We therefore recommend that you implement the changeover to GA4, including the backup of the previous Universal Analytics data, as soon as possible to avoid data loss. Furthermore, the more data available, the better the new machine learning algorithms and modelling features integrated in GA4 will work. Prompt action will pay off.
Together with Your Sidekicks, BI Concepts supports you in this process, helps you to back up the old UA data, link it to the new GA4 data and visualise it nicely. This leaves you more time for the implementation of insights.