Google is about to make some big, broad changes to its analytics, and if you’re not ready, you might not have any data to analyze come July.
What’s the hullabaloo? Google is sunsetting its Universal Analytics (UA) and replacing it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as of July 1, 2023.
At BOL, we’re ready and equipped to help you navigate and prepare for this change. Though first, let’s take a look at what’s actually being affected, and why you should be excited for what is to come.
What is GA4 and why does it matter?
GA4 is Google’s new and more robust analytics platform. It takes all the good from UA and adds in even more nuggets of data that will help companies draw better conclusions based on the data that’s collected.
In the simplest terms, UA tracks user interactions via page views vs GA4 which classifies each interaction as an event giving more flexibility regarding reporting and the tools available to report. Additionally, UA doesn’t account for things like video watches or clicks, while GA4 does. Plus, GA4 combines both web and app data, which UA didn’t.
Benefits of GA4
Let’s get down to why this is all gravy for you using Google’s own words themselves:
“Because the technology landscape continues to evolve, the new Analytics is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers. It uses a flexible approach to measurement and, in the future, will include modeling to fill in the gaps where the data may be incomplete.”
This means that you’ll be better able to understand how customers are navigating and interacting with your digital presence both on the web and in apps.
GA4 takes an omni-channel approach and tracks everything in one platform. This offers you a more detailed and comprehensive picture of how customers navigate across a website. It does this by incorporating User-ID natively as opposed to requiring a separate User-ID reporting view.
This new platform also takes privacy to a new level. GA4 uses first-party cookies and AI instead of third-party cookies and IP address collection, translating to greater overall privacy and privacy compliance.
Additionally, the dashboard updates allow for more customization and better visibility and data management.
Finally, of course, there are its new AI (machine learning) features. More than just a buzzword, GA4 uses machine learning to help predict users’ future interactions like purchase probability, churn probability, and predictive revenue. It can also help identify trends and patterns in buyer behavior to better inform marketing, sales, product/service development, and client service. Basically, it’s upping the ante for what an analytics platform can and should deliver.
Consequences of not being ready for GA4
While getting GA4 set up is fairly straightforward, doing so in time and paying attention to the details is key to a successful implementation.
It’s a good idea to opt-in to the automatic setup. The GA setup assistant will automatically create a GA4 property if you don’t create one yourself.
While you can opt-out of the automatic setup, that does come at a cost such as:
- Missed opportunities for customization. While some elements can be configured later, there are others that must be completed at setup.
- GA4 and UA are inherently different, so a GA4 property created by Google’s setup assistant won’t import historical data. This means you could potentially lose past years of analytics.
Lastly, and this is a big one, if you haven’t already set up GA4, you have missed the deadline (June 30th, 2022) to enable YoY reporting. The next big dates to keep in mind:
- July 1st, 2023 - new data will no longer be accepted by standard UA properties, and previously collected data becomes read-only
- July 1st, 2024 - UA360 properties won’t accept new data
The steps BOL takes to ensure our clients are ready for GA4
Below is a high-level look at how we’re preparing our clients for the big change. If you’d like help, or a consult about your own preparedness, you can get in touch with us here.
- Step 1- Audit of existing UA property and GTM configuration. Understand what is passing and what will fail under the new GA4 architecture
- Step 2 - Setup the new GA4 property
- Step 3 - Configure UA events and goals and new GA4 events
- Step 4 - QA testing and validation of new event tracking
- Step 5 - Verify data streams to connected apps
- Step 6 - Update dashboards for all clients using our in-house reporting solutions
GA4 is a great prospect we are looking forward to. It will allow for greater data reporting, and subsequently, greater insights and ideas about your clients. The important thing is to stay on top of the transition and make sure you’re ready to take full advantage of all the data and analytics innovations on the horizon.