What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the most current and updated analytics service offered by Google. This version of web analytics allows its users—often businesses and marketers—to measure website performance, track engagement metrics, and analyze data across numerous platforms, through both websites and apps.
In addition to its enriching tools and services, Google Analytics 4 also employs AI-based machine learning to enable predictive metrics that predict the behavior of your customers. This does not mean GA4 is going to start exploiting all the private information of the customers; in fact, GA4 is more privacy-friendly than its predecessor, Universal Analytics, as it no longer stores the customers’ IP addresses.
Why is Google Analytics 4 important? Why should you use it?
The importance of Google Analytics 4 is growing for various reasons. First of all, it is already fully functional and has become the standard for future analytics properties. This means Google will gradually add more features to GA4 instead of creating a new version.
Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 has newer features and is more customizable in its target data collection; some new features include real time reports, interactive live dashboard, cross-platform reporting etc. For example, GA4 is more user-oriented in that it consolidates the cross-platform data reportings from one user ID into a single user journey, rather than separating them into data from different users. This can be accomplished because GA4 no longer measures user journey in sessions—which counts mobile and computer as separate journeys—and instead as events. These fundamental changes allow for more accurate and efficient user data collection, while maximizing ROI on ad spend.
Furthermore, Google Analytics 4 is more cautious with preserving user privacy. For example, its data collection process and controls are now updated with respect to privacy laws. Not only does GA4 no longer automatically record identifiable information such as IP addresses, the users now have more control over what data can be accessed and what stays anonymous.
Lastly, on an important note, as GA4 is unable to import previous data from Universal Analytics, it is important to switch as soon as possible to avoid losing too much data.
How is Google Analytics 4 different from Universal Analytics?
There are several significant added functions in Google Analytics 4 that are different or not available in Universal Analytics:
- GA4 tracks an additional set of user metrics. For example, while UA measures Total Users, and New Users, GA4 accounts for Total Users, New Users, as well as Active Users. Active users give us important data on how many frequent customers the website has and GA4 reports focus mainly on this significant segment of users. The system model identifies active users automatically, as opposed to manually extrapolating these numbers like in UA.
- GA4 allows users cross-platform tracking from both websites and applications; this gives users an overview of the full customer journey.
- GA4 has a completely new dashboard; its navigation bar has changed and the format has been rearranged and simplified. It is also more functional and interactive compared to the old one.
- GA4 provides a deeper understanding of the customers by collecting event-based data; this is measured through engagement and user interaction. For example, some metrics provided are engaged sessions, engagement rate, and engagement time.
Starting from July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer be used to process data, so it is crucial that UA users switch to Google Analytics 4 before then.
Would you like to better understand and switch over to Google Analytics 4? If you don’t know how to set up Google Analytics 4, or are not confident about its functions, our web design agency is ready to help you. We offer a wide range of services, including web development, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager SEO improvements, and much more.