“What gets measured, gets managed” - Peter Drucker, management consultant and educator
Today, every business, no matter how big or small, aspires to make well informed decisions to make headway to achieve its goals.
New marketing tools are introduced every second day to help marketers stay ahead in making strategic decisions. Google Analytics has always been the marketer's go to when it came to website analytics.
It has only gotten better with the introduction of Google Analytics 4 displacing the popular Universal Analytics.
When Google unveiled GA4 in October 2020, Russell Ketchum, Director, Product Management at Google Analytics wrote in his blog that "Google Analytics 4 properties offer privacy-safe solutions to measure the customer journey, machine learning to predict outcomes and automate the discovery of insights, and easy activation of those insights in Google’s advertising platforms to enhance your marketing performance"
Unlike the previous versions- GA1, GA2 and GA3 also called Universal Analytics which have a session-based model, GA4 banks on a new model that uses event parameters for measurement purposes.
This is a significant shift because it will enable cross platform analysis. In simple terms, the data from a mobile app and a website can be integrated in a single property and tracked together.
It is hands down a game changer because up until now, with Universal Analytics property, tracking mobile data was done through a different version of Google Analytics- Google Analytics for apps or Firebase Analytics. Whereas, analyzing data from a website was done through a different Google Analytics property because the technology used is different.
In summary, with GA4 there will now be one reporting interface used for analyzing the incoming data from different devices making it more efficient for the users.
There are countless more benefits and let us look at each one of them in detail.
It is interesting to observe the time stamp evolution of Google Analytics over the years.
Google acquired Urchin Analytics in 2005 and launched its classic version of Google analytics. There were upgrades and updates that happened overtime in the tool and eventually in 2013 Google launched Universal Analytics (UA)
In 2020, Google introduced a beta reporting platform called App + Web property which is now predominantly named as GA4.
It is recommended to have GA4 property set up along with the existing Universal analytics accounts. Let's not brush aside the previous versions so that you don't lose any data in them.
Moreover, data in GA4 is not retroactive, which means that data collection begins when the account is created, so the old data can be viewed only on UA.
Meanwhile, you also get time to get accustomed to the upgraded version (GA4) too which makes for a seamless and flexible migration.
In the light of changing customer demands, businesses are embracing better tools that offer insights that help them in making better decisions and data driven marketing strategies.
Google analytics 4 is the future of Google analytics. The company vouches for this tool because of its much smarter and flexible solutions as every decision, every action will be measured against its success.
With its cross device functionality and machine learning features, it is better equipped to identify and prevent the missing gaps in your data. There is a better user behavior prediction and lower reliance on cookie based tracking which hints at enhanced user privacy.
With these key differences between the two, GA4 is on its way to master the game of website and app analytics.
Moreover, as per Google's latest statement on Mar 16, 2022- Universal Analytics will be replaced by GA4 on 1st July 2023 so the earlier we familiarize ourselves with Google Analytics 4 the better it is for us.
As mentioned earlier, the amalgamation of mobile and website data can be done through a single Google Analytics property. Keeping in view the problem of collecting data from mobile and website through different Google properties, was also one of the purposes, GA4 was introduced.
The model for data collection in UA was done by tracking multiple hit types which used to include Pageview, Event, User timing, Transaction, Social etc.
Whereas, in GA4, every hit is registered as an event. So, events would be common in both the devices- be it your mobile or your website which gives GA4 an edge over Universal analytics.
There is no gainsaying that GA4 offers better insights by virtue of its advanced Machine Learning technology as it can predict the behavior among customer groups. As a result, businesses can tweak their approach based on the enhanced insights and for crafting better marketing strategies.
The event-based model makes way for accurate reporting and most importantly, reporting in the GA for property is done on total unique users across different platforms which is not the case in any other GA property.
Additionally, the reporting interface has also changed in GA4. The most basic forms of events are tracked automatically.
Every new innovation and upgradation in technology needs to safeguard the interest of the users for providing a safe online environment.
GA4 is an efficient and a forward looking tool that solves the user privacy issue with a reduced reliance on cookies unlike its previous versions where there was a greater dependence on cookies.
This may result in some data inconsistencies but GA4 will use insights using machine learning to identify the gaps and bridge them thereby preventing any future hiccups as well. The same would be achieved by using modeling in future.
Tracking the data of your users at every stage of their journey is the need of hour for every business to succeed.
Imagine if you could get automatic alerts notifying you about the trends in your data so that you can take the necessary decisions and actions at the right time to grow your business. Yes, you heard it right. GA4 lets you do that through robust insights through advanced machine learning models from Google.
Due to the unification of data from mobile applications as well as websites in GA4, multiple data streams can be generated which gives you the option of creating multiple properties.
Over and above, there is no limit on the volume of data that can be sent to a Google Analytics 4 property. Needless to mention, you can get a lot of data around your business and thanks to the different incoming data streams you now can have access to GA4.
Surely, this was not the case with Universal Analytics.
We can observe limitations when it comes to the number of events that can be used in GA4 as well. This applies on a per-property basis. The event parameters and user properties won’t be processed if they exceed certain limits.
For instance, GA doesn’t log event names that exceed 40 characters and processes only upto 25 user properties. So, in an event where you need higher limits, you’ll have to upgrade to Google Analytics 360.
Conversions is the new term given to Goals used in Universal Analytics. There are 30 Goals allowed in GA4 as opposed to UA in which 20 Goals are allowed. In UA, if you had to track more than 20 goals you either had to create an additional view or edit an existing goal.
The basis of Goal set up is also different for both. The Conversions would be Event based in Google Analytics 4 while UA has it based on Destination, Duration, Event Category etc.
A Goal/Conversion can be any important activity with regards to your business, like an email sign up, form submission, product purchase etc.
Success of every business, be it online or offline is dictated by the decision making of the business owners. Time and again it has been reiterated that smarter tools offer smarter solutions and are evolving like never before.
The data thus becomes the most pivotal aspect of defining the direction of any business endeavor. How the data is then measured against its goals eventually lays down the law.
GA4 is a promising, future oriented tool which has been designed keeping in mind the issues that befall during the complete user journey.
It has a flexible path when it comes to the measurement/ analysis of the user behavior and its futuristic outlook will only offer unparalleled insights that no other previous properties will be able to present.
Considering the above listed advantages, adopting GA4 thus can be prioritized over Universal analytics. The sanctity of your data in Universal Analytics will be kept intact, so there’s no concern around losing data on previous Google properties. One can have both UA & GA4 at the same time.
So, brace yourself for this change and see for yourself the world of difference GA4 makes in the analytics landscape. Staying on top of the game is for us to figure.
After all, as Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of HP said, “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”
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