Google Analytics 4: what you need to know today
In October, Google announced the introduction of Google Analytics 4, their first major change to Analytics in almost 10 years. The move formalises the beta version of Google Analytics App plus Web with a new interface and machine learning.
Here’s what you need to know:
The first thing you’ll notice when entering Google Analytics 4 is a sleek and modern interface. The redesign makes it easier to use and more accessible than its predecessor, Universal Analytics.
Behind the design, GA4 introduces a major expansion to the machine learning capabilities in Google’s analytics offering. While it is still too early to fully understand GA4’s potential, it’s an exciting addition.
GA4 also sees a complete re-haul of the data collection architecture.
With more apps, web apps, ecommerce stores, and complex websites circling the Google-sphere, GA4 looks to plug the hole in Google’s offering by collecting data on the complex user journeys in apps and highly interactive websites with minimal set up.
The clunky Goal Tracking in Universal Analytics has been removed to make way for simple-to-set-up Event and Conversion tracking. This allows user behaviour such as logging in or browsing products to be recognised easily.
But there is a catch.
GA4 is so fundamentally different to Universal Analytics that it requires adding a new tag to your website. And with it, a fresh start on Analytics.
Google has made finding the new tag super easy, but when you add it to your website, your GA4 dashboard will be blank. You’ll need to start afresh collecting data from the moment you set up the new tag.
Thankfully, adding the GA4 tag to your website doesn’t stop Universal Analytics from working – the two run in tandem. But with GA4 eventually looking to replace Universal Analytics entirely, and with no clear way to migrate data (yet), we recommend adding the GA4 tag soon so you can build up historic data when the change does come.
We don’t currently know when Google will start decommissioning Universal Analytics, but with historical data being a pivotal factor in how useful analytics is, you’ll need to prepare.
What to do next:
- Add the GA4 Tag to your website
- Recreate your remarketing audiences in GA4 so they can start to build up
- Add event and conversion tracking
- Set up Google Tag Manager (not required but best practice)