Google Analytics has been an extensively used tool for performance metrics across countless websites owned by millions of businesses worldwide. The success in the universal analytics provided by this reporting tool is due to its ability to monitor user interaction in offline APIs, mobile apps, and web domains. Some of the marketing components tracked are business KPIs, website traffic, and other essential marketing channels.
To give you a deeper appreciation of this latest tool, here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know about Google Analytics 4.
Google Analytics 4 in a nutshell
To set this freshest reporting tool apart from its previous version, the developer’s description of Google Analytics 4 is all-inclusive of its most outstanding features. It has predictive data that is AI-based, has x-channel measurements, and top-of-the-line tracking with a greater focus on privacy.
Google has been utilizing machine learning methods to fill in gaps on data involving website traffic and user navigation behavior regardless of hits that every page provides. This process gives a complete picture of the client base for businesses despite the limitations on data collection because some users don’t allow cookies on pages they visit.
The challenge is to give a full picture of client behavior despite the growing freedom given to users in allowing Analytics to monitor their online sessions. Some browser companies have even become relatively sparing, such as Mozilla Firefox who has taken steps to block this feature. Other firms are following suit, adding visitor consent to Analytics tracking before it can run.
In this scenario, Google Analytics 4 came into being since there is an imminent need to protect privacy laws (CCPA and GDPR), and the traditional analytics won’t do to keep things running. Some businesses who still have the outdated Google Analytics increasingly encounter data gaps due to the cookie consent feature on websites that users opt to use.
There are numerous features in-built on Google Analytics 4, but here are some of them:
Data collected from Google Analytics 4 can be used to generate custom audiences, which will prove useful to your customers no matter how they engage with your brand. This step is made possible through Google Ads, which Google Analytics 4 has much deeper integration with. The requests of long-time advertisers are also dealt with concerning the element that can monitor conversions via YouTube.
The segments and views present in the old Google Analytics are replaced by data streams in the latest version.
The inherent design of Google Analytics 4 is to continue to work even without cookies or any such identifying data.
Typically, Analytics tools have data fragments based on platforms and devices. With this upgraded version, measurements in place are more customer-centric and give better information that will allow marketers to understand user engagement and interaction on their websites fully. This newly updated tool uses Google signals and unique user IDs for people who consent to ad personalization, which gives businesses a significantly better picture of a client’s journey.
Google Analytics 4 uses machine learning as its primary tool in measuring data. It can extrapolate information from existing ones to generate assumptions on user behavior. New insights are developed using AI features that instantly emphasize information that is relevant to marketers.
This aspect allows tracking across domains using the same UI and even without code adjustments.
Although the previous reporting tool has its funnels, they were relatively inflexible and not useful, apart from the one provided by GA360. With Google Analytics 4, these funnels are accessible to everybody. You can even customize them according to your needs and liking on a retroactive level and may be segmented to develop audiences for more extensive activation and exploration.
Google BigQuery integration
This last feature is the best one yet since it comes for free with Google Analytics 4. It was only previously available in the GA360 version, which is meant for enterprise accounts but is now integrated into GA4. This aspect will allow you to bring essential information onto a data warehouse, after which you can perform predictive analysis, draw up machine learning models, and customize as much as necessary.
Comparison with Google Analytics (Universal)
The most evident difference from the previous Google Analytics is the user interface.
Google Analytics 4 has machine learning tools to ensure that privacy concerns are prioritized and protected while still having a comprehensive understanding of users and prospects. The industry increasingly emphasizes cookie restrictions, moving forward so this feature is a huge plus.
Marketers are always interested in cross-domain, cross-session, cross-device assessment of user behavior. But Google Analytics 4 takes it to the next level by introducing cross-platform integration. Today, people may likely engage with ads not only across web pages but through various platforms like apps and websites.
It’s highly possible for an individual to browse a website but then decide to purchase products on a mobile device through an app. If Google Analytics 4 were not available, the client’s journey would be segmented across time and platforms with no tool to put all the little information together for a more in-depth and broader analysis.
View level ditched
The traditional Analytics had all three levels: the view, property, and account but Google Analytics 4 only have the last two.
There exist new concepts in Google Analytics 4. These are the unique user ID for tracking across platforms, user property (demographic data), and parameters (additional dimensions to user behavior such as article IDs, page titles, etcetera that provide context to every event). There are also the events to include all user interactions on all platforms such as clicks, page views, etcetera. There is no need to add codes to track. Most events are automatically measured.
This list does not cover all new concepts, but it will be easier to adapt to the new ones if you are familiar with the old version.
No distinct hit types
In Universal Analytics, every event is categorized into hit types. In the latest one, however, all hit types are processed equally with no such distinction.
For every campaign in the previous Analytics, a new session will be launched. With GA4, this doesn’t happen, which results in a decreased session count in the reports. The same thing is real for hits. The latest tool will process them up to a maximum of 72 hours compared to the previous version, where the processing happens until only a mere four hours after the day ends.
With Google Analytics 4, URIs and URLs are not on prominent display like in the previous version. Events will not be seen as web pages or URLs but as page titles or screens for easier cross-over amongst apps, websites on computers, and mobile.
Outlook for Google Analytics 4
Despite all the highlighted features of the latest Analytics tool by Google, it doesn’t relegate the old version to the backburner for now. Both can be running in tandem with each other. There is no pressure to switch over to the upgraded version anytime soon, so marketers who have been quite accustomed to the old can continue to use it. However, those who are yet to create new accounts and properties will have Google Analytics 4 as a default reporting tool.
As may be expected, data will be significantly different for both tools due to their conceptual distinction. The information will not align perfectly, say, for hits that will now record parameters and events across multiple devices.
The setup of Google Analytics 4 requires foresight as you strategize and plan to use the data on the tool to accomplish your business goal, as the information collected is highly useful and scalable.
Google Analytics 4 is indeed a substantial upgrade to the previous Universal Analytics reporting tool. If you wish to start enjoying the features discussed earlier, you can examine the new users’ upgrade guide. Keep in mind that the real update will be available only for Firebase Analytics users. The data brought forward into Google Analytics 4 are those from Firebase mobile apps and not all the current and historical information.
If you’re presently using the Universal Analytics by Google, the standard, cost-free version, you will marvel at the additional aspects that Google Analytics 4 will bring to the table. As mentioned above, features will be unlocked and available for you, including the pathing elements, funnel tools, and the BigQuery links, among many others.