Google Analytics 4: what is it and why configure it now?
Google recently announced that the current version of Google Analytics (known as Universal Analytics (UA)) will be phased out on 1 July 2023, and the torch will be passed to Google Analytics 4. (GA4). Do you solely evaluate your website with Universal Analytics? Then take the necessary steps right now to ensure that you continue to have access to updated data.
Google Analytics 4
As the successor to Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 was released in 2019 and will function independently starting in July 2023. Have you yet to set up this new system? We'll go through some of the benefits of the new version and why you should start configuring it right away.
A new data model
The most significant change in the new edition of Analytics is the completely different method it uses to measure your website and/or app. Google Analytics 4's new data model simplifies and purifies measurement.
The 'old' model of Universal Analytics
The data model of Universal Analytics is built on 'hits,' which are captured when GA displays an action. Page hits, e-commerce hits, and event hits are some examples. These hits are packaged into a session when they occur within a specified time frame. The hits, grouped into sessions, provide all of the data with which further analysis can be done.
The event-driven data model of GA4
However, Google Analytics 4 is transitioning to an event-driven data model, emphasising important interactions. The website is now measured based on events under this new paradigm. In GA4, all interactions between the visitor and the website are recorded as events.
Google Analytics 4 allows you to add events. These interactions can be highly particular, providing a good picture of how a visitor moves across your website or app. You can determine for yourself what you want to learn more about by adding events.
Parameters then pass further event information to Analytics. Consider a visitor who scrolls down a page: the event is 'scroll', and the parameter is 'percent_scrolled,' which specifies how far the visitor has scrolled down the page. Per event, a number of parameters are automatically registered, but you can also add your own.
Even more benefits
Google Analytics 4 has a number of other benefits in addition to the fully new data model:
- The analytics hub is available for free in GA4. This hub provides a variety of reports that you can customise with dimensions, segments, and metrics, including the well-known funnel, segment analysis, and path reports.
- GA4's artificial intelligence creates predictions about your visitors' behaviour, making it easy to develop target groups based on their interactions.
- Organisations that have both a website and an app can create a data stream that connects both data sources. As a result, GA4 provides a more comprehensive perspective of the entire customer journey.
- Engagement is now measured in terms of 'engaged sessions', which means that the bounce rate is no longer relevant and has been removed.
The End of Universal Analytics
The Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023, so you will no longer receive data on your website using this version. After that, you'll have at least six months of access to your previously processed data in Universal Analytics. It is recommended that you export any reports that include important information by then, to keep them at your disposal. Furthermore, and even more important, you should begin rebuilding your data in Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible.
Google Analytics 4 has an entirely new data model than its predecessor. That's why you can't move your data from Universal Analytics to GA4 because it's a new property.
Fortunately, for the time being, the two versions are still running side by side, until July 2023 that is. Until then, it's recommended to run both versions on your website: keep using the old UA property and start collecting data in your new GA4 property from scratch as well.
Make the switch today
Don't put off upgrading because Google Analytics 4 doesn't support historical data. The sooner you make the switch, the more valuable data you'll have when Universal Analytics stops processing hits. This way, you won’t suddenly be faced with surprises and you have already mastered the new version.
Could you use some help with the configuration and would you like to make sure that everything is set up correctly in GA4 and Google Tag Manager? As a Google Analytics certified professional, our partner MondoMarketing is glad to assist you in achieving optimum results for your company. Please contact them to explore your options.