While it may sound like a motto out of Game of Thrones, this isn’t a fantasy; Google Analytics 4 is coming.
When is it happening?
As of July 1st this year, Universal Analytics (UA) will become obsolete and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be taking over completely. However, come March, Google will begin transitioning clients over automatically. While this may sound convenient, allowing Google to transition your UA to GA4 instead of having your marketing agency do it may risk having it set up incorrectly, meaning the tracking and leads data may be inaccurate.
Why is it changing?
The first question you might be asking is why the change in the first place? We’ll skip the technical jargon and get straight to the answer – cookies. Before you get excited, unfortunately, it’s not the ones with choc chips. The cookies we’re referring are the tracking kind.
As privacy becomes a poignant topic in the world of technology, search engines and websites are shifting toward a ‘cookieless’ future in order to provide better data privacy for users. GA4 has been designed to incorporate machine learning and AI to provide a more complete understanding of customer behaviour that no longer relies on tracking individual user interactions.
What is the difference?
When it comes to how your Google property setup will look, there are some big changes to the look, navigation, and way data is tracked and measured. Essentially, UA and GA4 track the same data but rely on different data tracking models. UA was based on the tracking of sessions and page views, while GA4 is an event-based model.
GA4 also allows you to track your app and website data in the same property, removing the need to create separate properties and providing a better picture of the customer journey across multiple channels and devices.
In true Google style, the interface of GA4 has been completely updated. Most of the reports have been replaced or renamed, for example, you’ll see new reports such as Engagement, Monetization, and Retention in GA4. Another key change is that GA4 will refer to ‘goals’ as ‘events’, which will give more flexibility when setting up your parameters.
The next difference you’ll notice when comparing GA4 vs Universal Analytics is form conversions. Enquiry forms and contact forms on your website are key means of tracking leads, but this will be set up differently in GA4. Adding tracking codes will require the set up of Google Tag Manager and, depending on the platform, custom code; this can be very tricky if you’re not a developer. The event data shows up in your GA4 reports. For this reason, it is critical to have a professional complete this and that you don’t let Google do it for you or attempt it yourself.
Why is Google Tag Manger needed for GA4?
Google is encouraging users to setup and configure Google Tag Manager (GTM) alongside their new GA4 properties. Why? Well, as it is a Google product, GTM integrates easily with GA4 and allows users to add, edit and deploy tags to track conversions, measure website engagement and gather analytics data all in one place, streamlining the process.
How can you prepare?
First things first; you need to start setting up your GA4 property before Google does it for you to prevent losing historic data or having it set up incorrectly. By creating your GA4 property ASAP, you’ll also be able to compare your UA and GA4 data side-by-side over time. This will allow you to check for any inconsistencies and rectify them before UA is decommissioned in July.
As the date inches closer, we are progressively switching our clients to GA4 to ensure a smooth transition. If you have any questions, or would like assistance in your GA4 property set-up or GTM configuration, contact our digital marketing experts 03 9042 0714 today.