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December 26, 2022
If you’re a digital marketer or a business owner who markets in the digital space, then you are surely familiar with Google Analytics. In fact, it’s probably one of your go-to tools when analyzing your website’s traffic and helping to identify trends in how users engage with your website. But, did you know that a big change is coming for the search engine giant’s main metrics aggregator?
Up until 2020, Universal Analytics was the default property type for users. But times they are a-changin’ and, as always, technology is following suit. Enter Google Analytics 4, or GA4, the next generation of Google Analytics.
In order to prepare for the overhaul that’s coming and how it will affect your business, you’ll want to be briefed on all the ways in which this new generation of Google Analytics will differ from the old one. So, what is Google analytics 4 exactly? And what’s in it for me?
If you use Google Analytics for tracking and monitoring metrics on your site, then this change matters a great deal to you. Why? Because ALL standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits come July 1st, 2023. Additionally, Universal Analytics 360 will stop processing new hits 3 months later, on October 1, 2023.
To ensure a seamless transition, you will want to familiarize yourself with the new measurement platform and be ready to adopt the new event-based data modeling tool by having as much website data collected as possible. Your website data from the previous version of Universal Analytics will be stored for at least 6 months but will no longer collect new data as of Q3 next year.
As a business at the forefront of the technology world, Google’s modus operandi is always to provide a user experience as effectively and efficiently as possible. The upcoming change to Google’s data aggregator no different.
According to Russell Ketchum, Google Analytics Director of Product Management, “Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.” Amidst the great Fall of the Cookie, (which, as side note has been delayed yet again) and considering over half of all website visits come from mobile sources, Universal Analytics is just not able to accurately explain the complex user journey which often involves multiple touch points across devices and platforms.
A significant shift in how GA4 functions vs its predecessor is that it will now measure actions on your website as unified events across platforms rather than as siloed user sessions. GA4 also has user privacy as a top priority and will not store IP addresses or rely on user cookies to collect data.
GA4 also uses machine learning to help predict user behavior on site and in turn provide valuable insights for your business.
Now that we are less than a year away, the clock is ticking. It is important for businesses to create their GA4 properties now and let both Universal Analytics and GA4 collect data in parallel. The longer you wait, the less historical data you will have to reference when UA is officially turned off. Like with the entire Google suite of products, GA4 is undergoing daily changes and upgrades. Reporting, Goals and Attribution modeling all look different in GA4, so it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the new interface.
If you need help navigating the shifting landscape of website analytics we’d be happy to help. Get in touch with Punch Drunk Digital today we discuss your business goals and challenges.