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Google to move to GA4 – protect your data today

Google has announced that from July 1 2023, Universal Google Analytics (GA) will be discontinued and GA4 will become the only version of Google Analytics. 

Why does this matter, I hear you ask? Well, there are currently millions of businesses using GA to monitor their marketing channels and measure their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Those that fail to act and adopt the change risk losing data and therefore ground on their competitors. 

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4) 

Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps. 

In their official announcement Google said: “Millions of businesses, large and small, rely on Google Analytics to understand customer preferences and create better experiences for them. With more commerce moving online and businesses under increased pressure to make every marketing dollar count, insights from digital analytics tools are even more critical. 

“To help you get better ROI from your marketing for the long term, we're creating a new, more intelligent Google Analytics that builds on the foundation of the App + Web property we introduced in beta last year.  

“It has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms. It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on Analytics even as industry changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers create gaps in your data.  

“The new Google Analytics will give you the essential insights you need to be ready for what’s next.” 

Main differences between GA and GA4 

Application and website owners who are migrating from GA to GA4 need to consider these specific differences: 

Events 

Event handling is fundamentally different between UA and GA4. UA events have a category, action, and label, while GA4 doesn’t. 

GA4 events include:  

  • automatically collected events 
  • recommended events 
  • enhanced measurement events 
  • custom events. 

GA4’s property measurements are event-based, meaning it can capture any interaction as an event. As a result, GA4 translates UA hit types into events within a GA4 property. Those migrating to GA4 therefore need to implement a new event structure for collecting data. The information that is automatically collected however, doesn’t require the user to add code to an application or web page. 

Sessions 

As you may know, a session is a set of interactions between a visitor and a website within a given timeframe. UA sessions comprise multiple pageviews, events, interactions, and transactions. However, a GA4 session is explicitly defined by the session start event, which is an automatically collected event.  

The time span between events determines the end of a session in GA4, this is important as many working in GA4 will see a higher number of users. 

Main advantages over Universal Analytics 

There are several new features and advantages, as you would expect, when a new technology or property comes to market. GA4 is no different. 

  • Privacy-focused and durable for the future  
  • Intelligent, using machine learning to unearth insights about the customer journey across platforms and devices 
  • Enhanced, seamless integrations with Google's advertising platforms to optimize campaign performance and drive greater marketing ROI 
  • A new data modeling capability will use artificial intelligence (AI) to fill in gaps left by GA 

Final thoughts 

To ensure your year-on-year data is retained, GA4 needs to be set up by the end of June this year to achieve a full 12-month year-on-year data history. The interface will also need to be customised to ensure you are getting the same reporting capabilities best suited to your business. After July 1 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer record data. 

To find out more about GA4, Google Analytics, taking control of your data or harnessing the power of data and insight to boost your business performance, why not get in touch? Contact our team today...