On July 1st, 2023, Google will sunset Universal Analytics and replace it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new platform is designed from the ground up to be fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is built for the future, allowing organizations to seamlessly integrate desktop, mobile, and app traffic in one centralized environment. There are numerous reasons to be excited about this shift in data collection, but digital organizations around the globe are faced with the challenge of migrating their analytics in an efficient and accurate manner. As a digital optimization consultancy, analytics is central to our mission of making the internet a better place through data-backed recommendations. Whether you’re an analytics pro or just getting started, here are our top five tips on preparing for GA4:
1. Event-based data collection, rather than session-based
GA4 takes an entirely new approach to data collection than previous versions. Whereas in Universal Analytics (UA), events were captured and reported on within a duration of time called a “session”, GA4 processes each individual interaction as a standalone event. This allows for the seamless tracking of a user as they browse on their phone, research on their tablet, and convert on their home computer (for example).
2. New UI, new reporting
GA4 isn’t just a new name and data structure, it also features a new and simplified user interface. You don’t need to be a professional analyst to get actionable insights right out of the box. Simply browse the pre-built reports and dive in! If you’re a seasoned vet looking for a familiar experience, you may find some of your tried-and-true reports look or behave differently, but with GA4’s Explorations you can slice and dice your data for more powerful custom reports, leveraging a gallery of robust templates or free-form analysis.
3. Events are simpler than ever
Implementing and analyzing events to understand your digital experience is easier than ever with GA4. Under Universal Analytics, events include a three-tiered structure, which relies heavily on Google Tag Manager (GTM). However, GA4 tracks unique interactions under a single event name, with necessary additional details being captured as event parameters. For example, “click_video” may be the event, with an event parameter of “Top 5 Things to Know About GA4”, which is the title of the video. You can even create events and conversions based off of either event or event parameter, allowing a page view for your confirmation page to fire a unique event to track conversion performance.
4. GA4 puts privacy first
GA4 is fully GDPR compliant and uses first-party cookies, but is also designed to leverage machine learning to work in a cookie-less future. The inclusion of machine learning-powered artificial intelligence offers deep insights and quality of life improvements to your reporting—like understanding when a user is sent off-site to complete a transaction but sent back to your site for confirmation.
5. GA4 is not retroactive
While the mandatory switch to GA4 goes into effect on July 1st, 2023, it’s important to understand that analytics data is not retroactive. The sooner GA4 is up and running on your property, the better its machine-learning capabilities will be able to serve your business goals. Running GA4 and Universal Analytics—or GA360—will not result in any breakages, so there is no harm in running them in parallel. It’s likely GA4 will continue to see updates before July 1st with more features being released or improved. There’s no better time than now to jump in and start learning!
With just five months until the switch to GA4, do you have your migration plan ready to go? From auditing your set-up to configuring events, we’re here to help create a custom solution for you. Don’t wait until July, connect with our team today to get started!