What You Need to Know About Google Analytics 4

06/15/2023 3 min read Written by Megan Combs

Everyone’s favorite, Google, doesn’t stay the same for long… we love to hate it, right? So when Google announced the release of Google Analytics 4, we prepared for more of the same. What is Google Analytics 4? How is it different? What do I need to do to prepare?

The good news is that you’re getting access to even more customizable data that can help you make better business decisions. Let’s dig in.

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4, which was introduced in October 2022, is the latest iteration of Universal Analytics. There’s a buzz now because Universal Analytics (UA) will sunset on July 1, 2023, and those reports will stop being processed. 

GA4 is packed with new reports, enhanced features, and predictive insights. All these updates give you the power to find the data that matters to you and not just the data Google wants you to see.

GA4 (previously known as App + Web) has been around since 2020 but hasn’t been released until recently. After reviewing research from Forrest Consulting, Google learned that today’s analytics solutions weren’t providing a total view of the customer’s journey, which tends to be a cross-platform experience. Without this full view, you have siloed data.

How is GA4 Different From Previous Versions?

To put it plainly, this version of GA is more about the customer journey across platforms. As SearchEngineJournal put it, in GA4, “everything is built around users and events — not sessions, as we’ve been used to.” 

With all its new features, you can create dashboards and reports that include meaningful data rather than loads of unmanageable data. 

GA4 tracks the customer journey across multiple platforms and uses AI and machine learning to deliver this data.

According to release notes, you can expect GA4 to:

  • Collect both website and app data to better understand the customer journey
  • Use event-based data instead of session-based
  • Include privacy controls such as cookieless measurement and behavioral and conversion modeling
  • Add predictive capabilities to offer guidance without complex models
  • Direct integrations to media platforms to help drive actions on your website or app

GA4 also takes user privacy into account by providing more granular controls for collecting, retaining, and analyzing user data. Instead of tracking cookies or other identifiers, GA4 will rely on data modeling to fill in blanks in the customer’s journey.

Should I Switch to GA4 Now? 

Even though UA doesn’t sunset until July 1, you should still set up a GA4 property to run parallel to UA. This will allow the machine learning to start… well… learning. 

How to Set Up G4

Y’all, this process couldn’t be easier. See the steps below and check out Google's resources linked here.

  1. Login to your GA account
  2. Click the admin gear in the lower left corner
  3. Confirm that your desired account is selected
  4. In the Property column, select the Universal Analytics property that currently collects data for your website
  5. Also in the Property column, click GA4 Setup Assistant
  6. Once inside, click Get Started
  7. In the setup wizard, select Create Property, and you’re done!

Get Started With More Robust Analytics

Even though you’ll still be able to access your UA reports for six months after it sunsets, you should still back up your reports. You’ll also have to create new reports because the structure of GA4 is different from UA. 

Getting started with GA4 now will help the machine learning and AI learn more about your customer journeys, giving you meaningful data now and even more meaningful data as it learns.

By: Megan Combs

With a background in magazine journalism, Megan channels her love of the English language and grammar into her writing and editing. Before joining Lynton, Megan was a top content marketer at a digital marketing agency, where she helped clients translate their brand promises into strategic digital and social media messages.

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