what is google analytics 4 and do i need it

GA4 – The Next Generation

You’ve got a website, you’ve got Google Analytics set up, but now there’s some new thing called GA4. What is it and do I need it?

The simple answer is YES!

In October 2020 Google released Google Analytics 4 (also known as GA4).  Most website owners were knee-deep in a global pandemic so switching over to the new platform was the last thing on their minds.  Roll on 2022 and Google has announced that on July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics (the one you are most likely using) will no longer process new data.

“Google Analytics 4 is our next-generation measurement solution, and it’s replacing Universal Analytics. On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you still rely on Universal Analytics, we recommend that you prepare to use Google Analytics 4 going forward.”

So, yes you need to get GA4 set up.

The Benefits of GA 4?

According to Google, GA4 will provide the following:

  • Better insights. As GA4 uses machine learning, the AI will generate predictive insights about user behaviour or conversions. It can also create new audiences of users who are likely to convert on your site and show you critical insights.
  • Data you can use. As the new Google Analytics integrates with Google Ads and works across the web and app, it’s easy to use this new analytics platform to optimise your ad campaigns and sell more products or convert more customers.
  • More effective attribution. GA4 can help you to assign credit to more than the last thing a user clicked on, which will help marketers understand how different activities influence users, and which channels work best for your business.

Some key differences?

There are lots of differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 here are some of the big ones:

  • The GA4 interface is vastly different. Moving around GA4 is going to take some getting used to! The interface is quite different and finding data that you knew where to look for in Universal Analytics will initially come with a bit of a learning curve.  We’re still trying to figure this out too!
  • GA4 automatically sets up standard events. For basic events, you don’t have to do anything to activate them. There’s no setting to turn on, and there’s no code for you to write. Here are some of the standard events (which used to be goals). You can learn more about automatically collected events by visiting the Google Analytics help docs
    • first_visit – the first visit to a website or Android instant app
    • session_start – the time when a visitor opens a web page or app
    • user_engagement – when a session lasts longer than 10 seconds or had 1 or more conversions or had 2 or more page views.
  • Some key Metrics have changed in GA4. Don’t go looking for your Bounce Rate metric to see how your content is performing because there isn’t one. GA4 now measures your activity based on engagement on your site so it’s now your Engagement Rate. Conversion Goals under views are also gone. Since GA4 no longer tracks ‘views”, there’s no more option for creating goals. But don’t worry that’s where the events above come in, and you can create custom ones if you need to.

What do you need to do?

Transitioning to Google Analytics 4 is not merely an upgrade, but a brand new way of collecting and analyzing the data.

While it will continue to evolve, we are currently recommending that you set up your GA4 accounts now and implement dual tagging across your websites to start collecting data, alongside your Universal property. Even though you have more than a year before the final change takes place, it’s better to set this up now in order for the GA4 to gather all of the data it needs to produce your automated insights.

For help in setting up your GA4 property please contact us.