What GA4 means for your website analytics

The sun is about to set on Universal Analytics – the Google Analytics platform marketing professionals the world over have relied on to measure traffic and engagement for more than a decade.

Google announced last year that it would stop processing new hits on the Universal Analytics platform from the 1st of July 2023 (yes guys, Google have said this date is firm), encouraging users to move over to its next-generation platform, Google Analytics 4, as soon as possible.

While this may seem like a big and perhaps even daunting change, there’s no need to panic. With a proactive approach and the right level of support, your organisation can make a smooth transition to Google Analytics 4, putting you in a position to deliver greater value to your customers and your business.

More relevant

Universal Analytics was designed at a time when online measurement focused on the desktop web, independent sessions, and data from cookies. In an evolving digital environment, this approach is no longer fit for purpose. Google Analytics 4 operates across multiple platforms, allowing you to see data from the whole customer journey, across websites and apps.

More user-centric

Google Analytics 4 no longer relies solely on cookies. Rather, the platform uses an event-based data model that offers what Google terms “user-centric measurement”. Examples of interactions that can be monitored and measured using event-based tracking include loading a page, clicking a link, and completing a purchase.

More advanced

The next-generation platform uses Google’s machine learning capabilities to bridge insight gaps with predictive capabilities that can be used to gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviour.

More focused on data privacy and control

A key factor driving the transition to Google Analytics 4 is the need for greater data privacy, control and transparency. Today’s users understand their privacy rights and want to know what personal data is being collected and how that data is being used. Designed to meet modern data privacy demands, Google Analytics 4 supports compliance with key privacy regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

While Universal Analytics does offer privacy settings, Google Analytics 4 provides more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage. It will also no longer store IP addresses.

The earlier you begin collecting data in Google Analytics 4, the more opportunity you will have to build up historical data before Universal Analytics stops processing new hits. In the 6 months following the 1st of July 2023, all historical data will be read-only. Google has said they “strongly encourage” organisations to export their historical reports during this time. However, the sooner you act, the more data you will preserve for historical comparison3.

The move to Google Analytics 4 offers benefits for both customers and businesses. On one hand, customers will have more visibility and control over how their data is being collected and used in the digital environment, affording them greater privacy.
On the other hand, companies will benefit from a richer and more complete view of user behaviour across websites and apps. Unlike before, this won’t be separated by platform or fragmented into independent sessions. Being able to analyse all data in a single view, as well as track based on events rather than sessions and pages, will help your marketing team to build a deeper understanding of your customers based on their actions, decisions and preferences online.

On Google Analytics 4, organisations will also have greater assurance that their data collection processes comply with data privacy laws. Given the need to build historical data and avoid gaps in your analytics, it is prudent to begin preparing for this transition as soon as possible.

Take the headache out of the transition…

Codeheroes powered by pds, our web and app development resource, can help you take a proactive approach. We can work with you to smooth out any issues that may impact your migration and plan a seamless transition to Google Analytics 4, making sure everything is ready in good time, and no data is lost. Book a call to discuss your requirements.