What You Need to Know About Google's GA4

Last Updated:
August 9, 2022

Need to Know About Google's GA4

The newest iteration of Google Analytics has been released. Google’s GA4 signals a change in how you can collect, store and filter data from your website. Below is everything you should know about this new analytics system.

What is GA4?

GA4 or Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google’s Universal Analytics. However, GA4 is more than just a simple update, instead, it offers a completely new analytics system. With this new system, businesses must start collecting historical data within the GA4 system before the final shift from Universal Analytics. This will require businesses to create a new analytics property in GA4. With this users can translate KPIs into reports and collect their historical data. Businesses have at least 18 months before Google enforces the transition to GA4. Thus, it is better to begin migration now to prepare for the future.

New Updates in GA4

While GA4 draws on components of the Google ecosystem, it is also aiming for a cookie-free future and mass adoption of machine learning. Google has confirmed that they have a roadmap of features being released over the next few months. Meanwhile, some of the new features already released include the following.

Tracking Events over Sessions

The current Google Universal Analytics tracks events over a given time frame or session. However, in GA4 all interactions or events will tie to the user rather than the session. This allows businesses to have a better idea of the actions users take during each event. By using this data, business can create a more customer-centric approach to data and prioritize customers over sessions. All of this can lead to a better user experience and longer time spent on the website. ‘

Enhancing Measurements

This new feature can help marketers to track user actions without updating website tags. By tracking the common events below, small and medium businesses can gain better insights and save time tagging events or pages.

  • File downloads
  • Scrolling
  • Video views
  • Outbound clicks
  • Page views
  • Site search

Cross Device Tracking

This is a huge new feature for businesses and marketers alike. Tracking a single user across devices was previously impossible. However, with GA4 it is possible, provided users are signed into their Google account while browsing. This will give a much more detailed view of the customer journey and allow you to see any potential roadblocks on your website. Once again this new data feature will help optimize the customer journey. It will also help improve advertising performance.

Custom Channel Grouping Changes

Currently, custom channel grouping allows marketers to measure and optimize channel performance. This option will disappear in GA4, however, there is a way to access it. Simply go to Acquisition, Traffic Acquisition, and change the filter from medium to source. This change means using a UTM (Urchin Traffic Module) will need to be commonplace for accurate tracking.

Machine Learning Features

Google believes that machine learning is the future of analytics and insights. The GA4 machine learning tools help you to identify trends and make recommendations for marketing purposes. This functionality is accessible for all GA4 users through the Analysis hub. This technology will likely continue to improve over time.

Google’s GA4 is a big shift with a steep learning curve, especially for small businesses. Luckily, due to the long transition period, all businesses have the opportunity to be proactive and prepare. Remember the GA4 system isn’t an upgrade, instead, it’s a whole new system. This is why saving historical data is so important. Set up your new GA4 property to run in parallel with your Google Universal Analytics today so you don’t miss out.

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