Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google's widely used web analytics platform that is set to replace the current Universal Analytics (UA) version. It introduces several new features and improvements over the previous version, including enhanced data collection and analysis capabilities, improved user experience, and integration with other Google tools.
One of the biggest changes in GA4 is the shift from a primarily session-based data model to an event-based model. This means that instead of tracking user sessions, GA4 tracks individual interactions (or "events") on a website, such as clicks, page views, and form submissions. This allows for more detailed and accurate tracking of user behaviour and enables new types of analysis and insights.
Another key feature of GA4 is the ability to integrate with other Google products such as Google Ads and Google BigQuery. This will allow for seamless data sharing and cross-platform analysis, making it easier for organisations to gain a more holistic view of their digital marketing efforts.
To migrate to GA4, organisations will need to create a new GA4 property in their Google Analytics account and configure it to collect data from their website. Google has made available a setup wizard that can assist you in the creation of your GA4 property and transfer some elements from your existing Universal Analytics property (UA). Once your GA4 property is set up is complete, you will then have to update the tracking code on the website and set up events to track specific interactions. It’s worth noting that GA4 and Universal Analytics (UA) can run simultaneously on the same website, this means it is possible to phase your approach to the migration.
It's also worth noting that while GA4 offers many new and improved features, some features that are available in Universal Analytics may not be available in GA4 yet. Some features are also not automatically transferable from UA to GA4. For example, if you want to continue sending events to GA4 when certain actions are taken by your users, you’ll need to identify the tags in Google Tag Manager (GTM) that are currently sending these events to UA and then manually create new GA4 event tags within the GA4 property.
So, organisations should carefully assess their analytics needs before migrating to GA4 and consider whether they need to keep any UA properties for some of their use cases. Some organisations are also taking this opportunity to export the data from their current UA property, which will act as a useful backup source if ever needed.
To summarise, Google sees GA4 as a major step forward for web analytics, with the offering of new and improved features designed to help organisations gain deeper insights into their digital marketing efforts. However, migrating to GA4 requires careful planning and consideration, as it may involve changing tracking codes and data collection methods. But with the right approach, organisations can take advantage of all the new capabilities within GA4 and improve their digital marketing performance.
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