Google Analytics has been the gold standard for website and marketing performance tracking since 2005. The previous version of Google Analytics, known as Universal Analytics, will be phased out in July 2023, as per Google’s new update.
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics 4, formerly known as Google Analytics App+Web, has been made generally available by Google. This is the most recent version of Google Analytics, which demonstrates the transition of Google Analytics from a Web analytics tool to a Customer Analytics tool. The new data collection framework, tools, and reports make it possible to measure the user journey across channels and devices by providing much deeper insights.
How does Google Analytics 4 Work?
- 360-degree view of the customer journey: The new event and user-based tracking feature allow you to collect and view data from a variety of devices and touchpoints (both offline and online) in one place. By using a single User-ID across touchpoints and devices, you can get a better picture of users’ journeys and marketing performance. For even more insights, you can send the data directly to BigQuery.
- Data Collection, Sharing, and Retention: Nowadays Customers’ are concerned about their data being shared on the internet so, Google controls what data the company can use, share, or retain. Through Google Analytics 4, you can control data settings, remove data from ad personalization, and remove specific data.
- Machine Learning: Machine learning is built into the product to fill data gaps created by users, browsers, country/state policies, and other factors. In Google Analytics 4, machine learning is heavily used to surface insights and predict outcomes, allowing you to make better business decisions. GA 4’s search functionality is also powered by machine learning.
What’s New in Google Analytics 4?
- Report Organisation: The stages of the customer lifecycle are used to organise the reports. The phases involve acquisition, engagement, monetisation, and retention.
- Events Parameters: The context of the events is provided by event parameters, which contain additional data. With each event, several parameters are automatically tracked, and up to 25 more can be configured and captured.
- In-Depth Analytics: To gain better insights, the analysis hub allows you to slice and dice data by various segments and dimensions.
- Integration with BigQuery: BigQuery can receive hit-level data in real-time or in batches on a daily basis. The setup is straightforward and does not require a high level of technical expertise. To get a complete picture of the user journey and marketing performance, you can integrate other offline and online data sources into BigQuery.
- Users Properties: Google Analytics collects a number of useful properties or attributes automatically. You can add an additional number of properties to users in addition to those listed above.
- Cross-Device Journey and Google Ads Integration: You can create audience segments that automatically get updated based on rules you define using cross journey data. For example, if a user begins a journey on a mobile app but finishes it on the web, you can remove them from the retargeting list. It is simple to set up with cross-device integration.
- Better Search Functionality in the GA4 interface: Machine learning is at the heart of search functionality, allowing you to ask questions about your data as well as search various reports.
Universal Analytics VS Google Analytics 4
- Changes to Data Limits: Each tracking event in Universal Analytics is sent to Google servers as a separate image beacon. A website that sends data on all page views, interactions, and product impressions can place a significant load on Google servers. So Google has historically imposed hit limits on the free version of Google Analytics. GA4 makes use of a Google-developed queuing system that allows multiple events to be bundled together in a single network request, reducing the load on Google servers.
- User Identification: User identification has received a significant upgrade. A default view in the current Universal Analytics property reports on anonymous/unknown traffic identified by the anonymous Client ID. If your website allows users to log in, you can create a separate view that reconciles users using the User ID value exposed in your data layer and populated in Google Analytics for authenticated users. In order to identify or deduplicate unique users, GA4 uses a “fallback” approach with multiple methods.
- User ID: GA4 will check to see if you’ve passed a User ID value, which represents authentication to your own back end and is typically exposed on your website data layer.
- Client ID: GA4 will default to the Client ID if nothing has been detected so far.
- Google Signals: GA uses Google Signals, which is tied to a Google login if the User ID is not available. (In your GA4 property, you must enable Google Signals.)
- Spam / Fake Data Prevention: Spam referrals have been a common source of data inaccuracy in Google Analytics Universal. It’s simple for bad actors to use the Measurement Protocol to populate someone’s Google Analytics property with spam data using just the Google Analytics Universal property ID. With GA4, Google has made this nearly impossible by requiring Measurement Protocol hits to include a secret key that is visible in the GA4 web data stream settings but not publicly available. Data can only be sent to a GA4 property if the hit has a valid key.
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