In 2020, Google launched the beta version of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which will completely replace Universal Analytics (UA or GA3) on July 1, 2023. We’re here to shed some light on what to expect, what you might miss, and the advantages of immediately starting your transition to GA4.
- What should I expect with GA4?
- What will GA4 be missing?
- Why should I set up GA4 now?
- How long will it take to get started with GA4?
What should I expect with GA4?
While its predecessor UA was built for static web pages, GA4 is a mobile-first digital marketing analytics tool. It’s designed for mobile experiences like tapping, swiping, and scrolling. GA4 is built with privacy in mind, and it will not rely solely on cookies nor will it store users’ IP addresses.
GA4 will use event-based data, providing businesses with better insight into users’ journeys at every step of the funnel. First-party data is going to be immensely helpful, making GA4 the perfect tool for a cookieless future.
The machine learning capabilities of GA4 set it apart the most from UA. You will now have insight into the way people use devices with data streams, allowing you to look at websites, iOS, and Android users on a more granular level. GA4 will also offer predictive insights.
What will GA4 be missing?
There will be noticeable changes for users. Views will no longer be a supported feature of GA4, as Properties will replace Views. Annotations will also be sunsetted, which will limit marketers’ ability for shorthand notes within the platform.
You will process data and ad hoc analysis in GA4; but you will collect and configure your data, including setting up goals and goal values, in GTM.
Why should I set up GA4 now?
GA4 should not be viewed as an upgrade – it is a completely separate instance. When you set up GA4, your historical data from UA will not migrate over. You will only be able to collect data going forward. You will need to use your UA reports to see historical data.
We suggest making the move to GA4 sooner rather than later. This will allow you more time to familiarize yourself with the new look, capabilities, and reporting of GA4. You will also have a more robust view of your historical data come July 1, 2023, if you start collecting data now. Most importantly, you will start training internal algorithms for the best predictive insights.
How long will it take to get started with GA4?
The transition to GA4 will vary based on the complexity of your needs. Consider the following:
- Set up goals and conversions
- Review and align on compliance (levels of consent, data retention policies, etc.)
- Confirm admin access to all platform infrastructures
- Build out reporting dashboards
- Set up new user accounts
GA4 is the future of analytics
GA4 has received mixed reviews from early adopters. Many have reported issues with finding data that they were utilizing in UA. Additionally, there have been complaints that the interface is not user-friendly or intuitive.
While Google may continue to make changes and refine the tool, we know for sure that GA4 is the future. Install the GA4 code on your website, start collecting data, and get comfortable with the new functions and reporting capabilities. The best way to ensure future success is to start now.
Download Imarc’s GA4 guide for more information
This post was originally published on the Imarc blog.