Are You Ready For GA4? What You Need To Know.
Google phases out Universal Analytics
Earlier this year, Google announced the sunsetting of Universal Analytics, effective July 1st, 2023. The shift to Google Analytics 4 will introduce some key updates across the board, including setup, capabilities, aggregation, and reporting. See below for some of the key differentiators to pay attention to.
- Data Model: Perhaps the biggest improvement GA4 offers over UA is the ability to track users across devices, rather than separately when a user switches devices. Built on Google Signals, this update will enable advanced cross-device tracking and is built to support a cookieless web.
- Event Tracking: Previously, events were set up within UA following three distinct components: Category, Action, and Label. In GA4, everything is categorized as an event, and can be set up in GTM to mirror the tracking you may have in place for your existing marketing efforts. So with the new GTM functionality providing the ability to preview makes overall set up a lot easier and more accurate.
- Web & App Tracking: With GA4, you now have the ability to combine Web and App Tracking in the same property, via Firebase Analytics. Providing a more comprehensive and holistic view of your customer journey.
- Structure: The Views level has been removed from GA4, but many of the views-related features (such as filters, segments, and conversions) are still available at the Property level.
- Reporting: On top of all the standard reporting UA offered, GA4 also offers some advanced features that help automate some previously manual processes. Automated Insights can help detect significant changes or emerging trends across all your data, eliminating the need to dig endlessly for anomalies. Custom Insights allow you to create conditions that, when triggered, will alert you to changes you’ve deemed important.
With all these changes, even if you’re tracking the exact same site and exact same actions, GA4 data will appear different when compared to UA. Set up GA4 as soon as possible to run parallel with UA to get the deepest understanding of these changes, before UA is sunset. Universal Analytics will stop processing new data starting on July 1st, 2023, and historical data will be accessible up until December 31st, 2023.