What’s New with the Google Analytics 4 Update
Digital marketing continues to evolve rapidly over time and grow in popularity. A critical factor in its evolution is the collection and organization of relevant data. It’s the vital information we use to understand our customers better and make more effective marketing decisions.
Google Analytics plays a large part in the collection and organization of data from websites. Since its inception in 2005, it’s been a useful tool for measuring a website’s performance. It is utilized by millions of websites worldwide and is continuously improving over time.
Google’s newest update for the platform is known as Google Analytics 4, formerly the Beta version of App + Web. Google Analytics 4 is a property that can be added to your Google Analytics platform to start gathering data and take advantage of its latest innovations.
In a recent blog post, Google had this to say about the new update:
“To help you get better ROI from your marketing for the long term, we’re creating a new, more intelligent Google Analytics that builds on the foundation of the App + Web property we introduced in beta last year. It has machine learning at its core to surface helpful insights automatically and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms.”
Some of Google’s latest Analytics capabilities include deeper integration with Google Ads, expanded predictive insights, and cross-device measurement.
There is a LOT to learn about the new Google Analytics update.
That’s why we’ve created this article – to share with you the most impactful improvements in a short amount of time. You can then decide if you’d like to utilize Google Analytics 4.
The most significant change from the previous property (Universal Analytics) is the shift to an event-driven data model. An event is a specific action taken by a user on a website. For example, downloading a file or viewing a particular page.
The previous Google Analytics versions focus on pageviews as the primary metric to review. Events were separated. It wasn’t easy to see how these were correlated and other metrics, but now everything is simply an event.
Events also had to be manually configured by creating them in the platform and adding code to your website’s back end. This part could be a pain for people that aren’t very tech-savvy.
Without having these events set up, you wouldn’t know what specific actions people are taking on your website.
Events in Google Analytics 4 fall into four categories:
Automatically Collected Events – triggered by fundamental interactions with your site, such as a pageview.
Enhanced measurement – collected automatically when enhanced measurement is enabled. These include file download, external link click, scroll tracking and video views.
Custom Events – events that you name and implement yourself. You may wish to track a unique action on your site.
Recommended Events – events that need to be implemented manually but use Google’s predefined names and parameters. They’re far easier to implement than in previous versions of Google Analytics.
The recommended events category also has events grouped by specific industries. For example, they have a variety for retail, e-commerce, and travel-based websites.
This means Google Analytics 4 is far less of a “one size fits all” platform for businesses, and it’s more beginner-friendly. There will hopefully be more industry-specific events available in future updates.
To be clear, we must note that the term ‘Events’ in Google Analytics 4 does not mean the same as it did in previous versions. There are no Category, Action and Label elements anymore. Instead, they’ve been replaced with parameters.
Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand Google Analytics 4 yet. It took us some time to wrap our heads around it too! All of this is far easier to understand after spending some time inside the platform.
Cookies & Data Analysis
Another significant improvement with Google Analytics 4 is its data adaptability. With previous versions, third party cookies are relied on for tracking users.
In case you didn’t know, cookies identify unique website users and gather data on user behaviour. Most companies automatically deploy them into a web browser whenever a new user arrives on their website.
Large web browsers, like Safari and Firefox, have already banned third party cookies. By 2022, Google Chrome will be following suit. Google Analytics 4 has been designed to adapt to this reality. It uses its machine learning and modelling to help fill gaps where data is incomplete.
The update’s machine learning is very advanced in comparison to the previous version. For example, it allows users to have a greater understanding of multi-device and offline conversions.
Google Analytics 4 provides smarter insights to improve decision making and increase the return on marketing dollars. New reporting and analysis for websites make a marketer’s job far easier. The latest update is also adaptable for a future without third party cookies for tracking users.
Several other elements have changed through Google’s latest update. We’ve covered what we think is most relevant.
Similar to Google, we recommend setting this new property up alongside your existing Google Analytics set up. If you’re brand new to Google Analytics, then you don’t need to worry. The latest update is now the default experience for new users.
Regardless of how familiar you are with the platform, we hope this article has provided you with some value. Thank you for reading.
For step by step guidance on setting up the new Google Analytics 4 property, visit Google’s guide.