Who is GA4?
The newest version of Google Analytics is called GA4. It completely reimagines what data collecting and analysis might be, combining all of Universal Analytics’ strengths with brand-new capabilities created to take use of the potential provided by big data and machine learning.
What distinguishes Universal Analytics from GA4?
The main distinction is that Google used an entirely new architecture to build GA4. The idea of sessions, which are effectively a string of page views, served as the foundation for the creation of Universal Analytics. GA4 is centred on the idea of events, on the other hand. Pageviews, clicks, form submissions, and even bespoke events that you define yourself can all be considered events.
The repercussions of this architectural alteration are vast and significant. First off, it demonstrates that GA4 is much more data-capable than Universal Analytics. It also means that GA4 can provide you with a lot more information on what users are doing on your website or app. Thirdly, it implies that GA4 can be used to track a variety of different things in addition to online traffic.
Let’s examine a few of GA4’s most important features:-
Tracking across platforms—web and applications
The tracking of users across platforms and devices is one of GA4’s most potent capabilities. This enables you to obtain a thorough understanding of how customers engage with your business whether they are using your website, your mobile app, or both.
The use of “data streams,” which are effectively distinct “views” of your data that you may construct based on specific criteria, enables this. You could, for instance, make a stream for all online traffic, one for all app traffic, or one for all traffic coming from a specific nation.
The other major benefit of this is that it greatly simplifies conversion tracking because you can see the whole user experience from beginning to end regardless of the platform or device the user is using.
Reporting and analysis
A new Google reporting area that offers new tools to conduct sophisticated analysis was added with GA4. Depending on the website or event you choose, this will happen. Additionally, you may export your data into BigQuery using the new analysis tool for even more thorough analysis.
Integration with BigQuery
Integrating with Google’s cloud-based data warehouse service, BigQuery, is one of GA4’s most intriguing features. As a result, you may export your GA4 data and store and analyse it in BigQuery.
This is a big benefit for two reasons: first, it provides you with almost infinite storage for your data; and second, it opens up a world of possibilities for advanced analysis that was just not feasible with Universal Analytics without an external connector.
You might, for instance, export your data into BigQuery and use SQL to conduct sophisticated searches that are just not possible to execute through the GA interface. Alternately, you may employ machine learning to find hidden patterns in your data.
The integration of GA4 with BigQuery is a game-changer if you’re serious about data analysis, in my opinion.
A better understanding using machine learning
The use of machine learning by GA4 to give wiser insights is another significant benefit. ‘Probabilistic matching’ is a technique used by GA4 to combine data from many sources and provide you a more comprehensive view of your users.
Consider the scenario where your campaign is active on both Facebook Ads and Google Ads. GA4 can combine the data from the two campaigns using probabilistic matching to offer you a single picture of their performance.
This is just one illustration of how GA4’s usage of machine learning can provide you access to insights that with Universal Analytics are simply not available.
Better Data Model
How data is gathered has undergone one of the most significant modifications in GA4. Data was gathered through tags that were positioned on each website page in Universal Analytics. GA4 employs “event-based tracking,” which records user interactions, or events, as they take place rather than depending on pageviews.
Due to this, GA4 can track user behaviour with a great deal more precision and flexibility.
Consider the case where you have a website with a search function. You might monitor pageviews for the search results pages using Universal Analytics. However, regardless of the page the user is on, you can track actual searches as they happen with GA4.
Additionally, this event-based paradigm enables tracking of user activities that don’t always take place on a website, such offline conversions and in-app purchases.
The enhanced data model in GA4 gives you a more precise and thorough picture of how users are interacting with your website or app.
Probability of purchase and churn
The ability of GA4 to forecast purchase probability and churn is yet another intriguing new feature. The likelihood that a user will make a purchase on your website or app is measured by purchase probability. Churn gauges a user’s propensity to discontinue utilising your product.
For each unique user, GA4 employs machine learning to forecast churn and buy probability. As a result, you may focus on the users who are most likely to convert or churn with your marketing efforts.
Additionally, GA4 will keep picking up new information and improve its accuracy over time. As a result, it will increase in value as you utilise it.
Why you should immediately switch to GA4?
You can see that GA4 is a significant improvement over Universal Analytics. It is more potent, adaptable, and accurate. You should switch to GA4 straight away if data analysis is something you take seriously.
You’ll be able to benefit from GA4’s ongoing learning and development in addition to having access to all of the new features and capabilities. It’s crucial to keep in mind that Google will stop supporting Universal Analytics in July 2023, necessitating an upgrade.
Would you be willing to take a chance on data loss? Most definitely not.
Moving your tracking now ensures that you will have a year of historical data in your new platform, whether it is GA4 or anything else, as UA will shortly stop collecting new sessions. Additionally, since you can use both simultaneously until you have completed your transition, there won’t be a blackout period during it. However, you can finally validate the accuracy of your data and you don’t need to move right away.
Everything you should know about GA4—pro advice
Here are some pointers from the professionals to make the move from GA3 to GA4 as simple as possible:
Historical Information and Modern Interface
“The ability to use your historical data in the future is the key incentive to relocate your data and set up GA4 now, assuming you expect to remain on Google Analytics. Whether you like it or not, Google Analytics will eventually migrate to GA4 as the default starting in 2023. If you act right away, you gain two advantages: historical data and a head start on platform training.
The second advantage gets less credit. GA4 delivers strong and revolutionary features like creating custom funnels and tracking cohorts, while having a new interface to learn and without some of the statistics and functionality that were immediately accessible in the prior platform. It will take some mental adjustment to learn the event-based methodology. Making this decision right away will help you change the way you log and access your analytics findings.
New Analytical Capabilities And A Data Model
“One of the main reasons you’ll want to start using GA4 right away is that you have to do so in order to access all of the new features because it has a new data model and requires a new implementation.
Your previous data from previous implementations cannot be transferred to this new platform. In terms of the new backend, Google’s adoption of an event-based data architecture is actually what has changed. It is simpler to work with because other systems use this data model frequently.
The bottom line is that marketers will want to start utilising GA4 since, in a few months, it will undoubtedly be the best option. You may develop funnels there, along with these new functionalities. It is now much easier for us to undertake pathing analysis and comprehend content performance than it was in UA.
You must need GA4 to utilise all of these capabilities. Using both at once is quite simple. And for now, starting to use GA4 in addition to the characteristics you already have in place while continuing to use UA is the best advice.
Decisions Are Impacted By Data Gaps
We advise all of our clients to run fully configured and set up GA4 analytics in parallel to their UA accounts by the end of June 2022, in light of Google’s announcement that Universal Analytics will be retired in July 2023. Organisations that are driven by data are aware that year-over-year data is the gold standard for data comparison.
The recommendation is for GA4 to be fully setup at least one year in advance—by the end of June—based on year-over-year data that is close to the sunset date. Delaying GA4 deployment may prevent your organisation from making accurate cost and revenue-based data decisions since there will be gaps in any significant year-over-year data comparisons after the sunset date.