by Anthony O'Donoghue
In July 2023, Google will be retiring Google Analytics in its current form and replacing it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In this blog we take a look at the impact this will have on businesses and why you should make the switch sooner rather than later.
What is GA4?
Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the newest version of Google Analytics. It is part of a new wave of web analytics that will enable companies and marketers to analyse important customer data and not just track website traffic. GA4 will track the customer journey across multiple platforms and will provide more detailed insight into how users are interacting with your website. It’s also very focused on customer privacy, in light of laws such as GDPR, and reduces reliance on cookies. With cross-channel data and AI-driven predictive analytics, GA4 will be a powerful tool that promises to change the face of web analytics.
Privacy on the web, and concern around the use of third party cookies, has fuelled this evolution of analytics. The likes of Google are facing ever-increasing scrutiny on how they collect data and are now seeking to phase out third-party cookies, without inhibiting businesses.
The major difference between GA4 and current analytics is the move towards event-based data, as opposed to session-based data. This means that data is represented as some form of event. These events could include page views, file downloads, clicks and purchases. New engagement metrics will also be introduced, such as engaged sessions, engagement rate and engagement time. It will also track other dimensions, like attribution, demographics, events, and so on. This represents a big change, but will make tracking customers easier. Where analytics has previously assumed that page views are the most important metric, that is no longer the case. Ultimately, businesses will have access to more data.
The new streamlined dashboard includes options for home, reports, explore, advertising, configure and library. The interface is quite a departure from traditional analytics and may take some getting used to. But we imagine that Google will invest some time in to making it more intuitive as GA4 continues its development.
What do I need to do?
From July 1st 2023, universal analytics will no longer process new data and your historical information will not be carried across to GA4. You need to act now if you want to utilise your existing data before traditional analytics are retired. Setting up your GA4 account now will give you the opportunity to access and use your data before the deadline. The longer you leave it, the less historical data you’ll have to access. This may sound like a job for another day but you should make it a priority if your customer data is important to you and your business. You won’t lose your existing data when setting up your new account and it’ll remain live until GA4 takes effect next year.
In addition to setting up the GA4 tag on your website, you’ll need to establish your own events and conversions. This will be dependent on the conversions you want to track and how you want to track them. GA4 enables you to create very granular events and you’ll need to replicate the goals you have set up in your existing analytics as Conversion Events in GA4. Create an event and then mark it as a conversion for reporting. The GA4 interface can cater for the majority of these tasks but some more custom events may require additional tagging on the website or in Tag Manager.
If you’re looking for support with your Google Analytics 4 setup and are keen to know more, get in touch with us here