SET UP NOW FOR A SOURCE OF TRUTH WHEN THE CHANGE COMES
On March 16, 2022, Google announced that they will be replacing the most current version of Google Analytics (Google Analytics 3 or Universal Analytics) with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2023. This is Google’s attempt to evolve new measurement standards while simultaneously prioritizing user privacy.
Universal Analytics will discontinue data processing on July 1, 2023, and Universal Analytics 360 on October 1, 2023. Now is the time to make the switch to GA4 for your cross-platform analytics solution. Learn about the key benefits of Google Analytics 4 and how it can support your business.
1. Event-related and cross-platform monitoring
According to Google, Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies. GA4, on the other hand, will not rely on cookies and instead will measure and track events across multiple websites and platforms (e.g., desktop, mobile, apps).
2. Data-driven attribution
The data-driven attribution feature will allow GA4 users to measure both converting and non-converting activities, which will provide comprehensive information about how all marketing activities affect the customer journey.
3. Enhanced integration with Google products
Once you integrate GA4 with other Google products (such as Google Ads, etc.), it will provide improved Analytics insights and make it easier to optimize your campaigns. Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360 integrations are now available for all customers, which will help to strengthen your overall marketing campaign performance.
4. Privacy and security
GA4 will offer increased privacy protection via comprehensive data collection controls. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 will not store IP addresses.
1. Session Counts
The logic of how sessions are counted is different between the two platforms. This will likely lead to a lower overall session count within GA4 and impact year-over-year reporting. Be sure to monitor this discrepancy for reporting.
2. Conversion Count
Conversion numbers will likely be slightly higher with the new Google Analytics platform as the logic has changed here as well. Take this discrepancy into account for year-over-year reporting.
3. Bounce Rate
The bounce rate metric is not available within GA4. This KPI will need to be replaced with another metric, such as engagement rate. Your specific business will need to decide how to incorporate the new engagement metrics.
If you need to set up a new Google Analytics account, there are several steps to take to capture and track data correctly.
1. Linked Accounts
Link all existing Google Ads accounts to the new GA4 property.
2. Conversion Import
Import new web conversion events within GA4 into existing Google Ads accounts. Leverage new conversions actions for automated bidding strategies, data analysis, and future optimization efforts.
3. Audience List Import
Upon linking the new account, import audience lists defined in the GA4 account into Google Ads to support remarketing and audience creation efforts.
4. SA360 Integration
Integrate GA4 with an existing SA360 account to support data retention and reporting as well as Darwin budget and bid optimization.
Universal Analytics uses hit-based tracking, which tracks hits to the following types: Page Hits, Event Hits, Ecommerce Hits and Social Media Hits. In contrast, GA4 uses event-based tracking, meaning every
user interaction on the site can be captured as an event. Additionally, in Universal Analytics, a new campaign would trigger a new session regardless of activity—in GA4, a new campaign interaction does not—leading to potentially lower session counts in GA4.
GA4 will not have Goals as a measurement like the current Universal Analytics. GA4 users can instead label specific events as conversions.
Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 will not have Event values such as Categories, Actions, Labels, or Values. Instead, there will be four categories of Events: Automatically Collected, Enhanced Measurements, Recommended Events, and Custom Events. Custom events can be created in GA4, but users of GA4 should use the automatically collected events unless a specific conversion is not included within the automatically collected events.
With Universal Analytics scheduled to discontinue data monitoring on July 1, 2023, begin enabling GA4 as soon as possible to ensure that year-over-year data will be available when Universal Analytics data is no longer accessible. Set up dual tracking in both Universal Analytics and GA4 to allow time to ensure continuity of data while becoming familiar with the new GA4. According to Google, historical Universal Analytics data will be accessible for at least six months; however, switching to GA4 early will eliminate the need to conduct cross-platform data pulls and manual comparisons during that period.
Make the move over to Google Analytics 4 today to build the historical data that’s necessary for you and your business before Universal Analytics stops processing. If you need further instruction on how to switch to GA4, you can find it in the Analytics Help Center, or consult with your Performics account team.