Insights Are you prepared for Google Analytics 4?
This week Google made the announcement many of us marketers have been waiting for (we'll let you decide if in a good or bad way!). From the 1st July 2023 they will be 'sunsetting' their Universal Analytics tool and no new hits will be processed. Instead in its place will be the new Google Analytics 4.
Whilst the news is still fresh and no doubt more information and features will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months, let us walk you through the basics of what this means and what you can and should do to start preparing now.
In real layman's terms, the Google Analytics (GA) that we all know and love (technically known as Universal Analytics) will cease to process any new data or ‘hits’ from the 1st July 2023. This means that if you rely on GA for data on your company's website performance and user behaviour it will essentially cease to provide new data from that date. If you were using their updated version of Universal Analytics 360 then that deadline will be extended by an additional three months of new hit processing, ending on the 1st October 2023.
In its place, website data and measurement will be replaced by their new version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Don't be fooled though into thinking that this is just a software update with a simple 'Update now' button and a prettier dashboard. GA4 is essentially an entirely new platform with some very different features, but panic not, there are still ways of migrating some of your current set ups over such as goals and conversions, so you won't be starting entirely from scratch. Phew.
It’s worth noting that GA4 has actually been around in various beta modes and then official for over a couple of years now, and is something that here at The Escape, we’ve already got ourselves certified in and have been using for a while now to get ahead of the curve, knowing this day would come!
What's the reason for this big change?
One of the main drivers for this change is privacy. In today’s digital landscape, personal data privacy is one of the biggest concerns for users and with laws around GDPR and cookie policies, it’s become more and more protected. GA4 will not rely exclusively on cookies and no IP addresses will be stored.
Google have also declared their decision for change was influenced by changing behaviour moving away from desktop web to multiple platforms.
What are some of the features of the new Google Analytics 4?
Event based measurement model
Data will no longer be organised into independent sessions, but will be a complete overview of the customer lifecycle with event based measurements across all touchpoints, i.e. from website to app.
Country level compliance
With differing compliance legislation around the globe, the new GA4 also allows new country level privacy controls, so that you can collect and manage the right levels of user data such as cookies and metadata.
Expanded integrations and predictive insights
Google’s newest version also claims to have expanded integrations with other Google products such as Google Ads. For example, their machine learning features provide predictive insights about user behaviour and conversions and creates new audiences of ‘potential customers’ which can in turn be exported to Google Ads.
What should you be doing next next?
In one quick answer? Install GA4 now!
Scary as it sounds, the 1st July 2023 will creep up on us all faster than we know it, so our advice is to make the move to GA4 now. Once that date arrives, Google are currently suggesting that users will have access to their previously processed data on Universal Analytics for six months or longer before it’s lost.
By making the move now you’ll also ensure that you’re starting to build up your historical data on GA4 before Universal is put to bed. A top tip from The Escape team is that there’s no reason why you can’t have both versions in play for now, so that you’re still collecting data from a platform you’re familiar with, whilst getting used to the new features of GA4.
If you’re looking for some advice on how to manage your data or implement the new GA4, then chat to one of our experts today.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you connect strategically, creatively or digitally, then call us or get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.