Just last October (on the 14th), Google announced the full release of the fourth version of Google Analytics. Aptly named Google Analytics 4 or GA4, this is – according to Google itself – the major Google Analytics update in 10 years.
The new and enhanced Google Analytics 4 is built upon the so-called Google Analytics App + Web property (during its beta stage) which was released last year (2019).
Currently, without the beta label, the Google Analytics 4 will still gather several of the alpha/beta features previously launched, but this new version also includes new powerful features, intended to give companies a deeper insight into their websites’ traffic, therefore allowing them to make better (and smarter) marketing decisions.
Why the new Google Analytics 4 appeared?
Well, there’s no denial that the GA4 has become the hot topic for the past months. This latest version name came to light after a poll among Google Analytics users, and it’s a result of being the 4th generation of Google Analytics.
But there’s more than the name behind the GA4. It’s all about Cross Device Tracking.
Just think about it. Currently, most users are using multiple devices and often at the same time (computer, cellphones, TV, tablets, and so on…). So, there’s no surprise that marketers and advertisers are endeavouring to make sure they reach every single device.
Here’s where Google wanted to make a difference and provide their users with a product able to fully cross devices and give a comprehensive view of the companies/brands website and apps.
Introducing Google Analytics 4 new features
The latest update for Google Analytics is here introducing four major new features for marketers, intended to enhance marketing strategies and decisions, as well as to boost companies return on investment (ROI).
Concisely, these are the main four key features that Google Analytics 4 is bringing to light:
- Smarter marketing insights using machine learning
- Deeper integration with Google Ads
- Customer-centric measurements and better understanding of customer-related data
- New data controls
For those already using Google Analytics in its most traditional versions, there’s no new on its advantages for business insights and marketing strategies, given that it allows you to understand your audience/customers behaviors. But Google Analytics 4 aims to go even further with its newer features.
Let’s dig into the specifics.
1. Smarter Marketing insights using machine learning
Machine learning is no news for Google Analytics, some might say. And they’re right. But with GA4 this tool goes even further and allows marketers to have access to new Artificial Intelligence (AI) insights and predictions, raising their awareness of data trends and highlighting useful information for them (the marketeers).
This means that with Google Analytics 4, marketers now can predict outcomes (namely churn rates or potential business revenue) from a specific segment of customers, thus enabling marketing teams both to be proactive and reactive, given that they become able to make assumptions about their traffic and/or customers behavior and predicting their future actions or even giving them the knowledge to focus on higher-value customer groups.
2. Deeper integration with Google Ads
Last year, when Google launched the beta version of Google App + Web property, one of the highlighted advantages was the ability to unify digital marketing data from apps and websites to improve reporting and analysis.
Well, with the latest Google Analytics 4 version this feature goes even further and includes a deeper integration with Google Ads, thus allowing marketers to build and maintain custom audiences. As result, marketers become able to reach customers with more relevant and helpful experiences.
This means that, with the new GA4, businesses now can suitably link it up to Google Ads and get additional insights of their pay-per-click campaigns, for instance. Therefore, marketers will be able to track, build and analyze their custom audiences and identify all the components, items, or products generating more leads and higher conversation levels.
This new integration also allows marketers to measure users’ interactions through the web and apps, as well as YouTube engaged views occurring both in-app and on the web, for a more holistic view of the business results.
3. Customer-centric measurements and better understanding of customer-related data
Gone are the days when Google Analytics was just a fragmented measurement tool, where data was divided by device or platform. Google Analytics 4 has evolved from that and now provides customer-centric measurement.
The current reporting structure is developed according to the four stages of the customer lifecycle (acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention). As a result, marketers get access to additional information on its users/customers (through multiple identity spaces, such as marketer-provided User IDs and Google signals from users who selected ads’ personalization) and get a better understanding not only of their customers but on how they interact with their business.
4. New data controls
Data privacy has been a big deal for companies for the past few years. And therefore, the new Google Analytics 4 has taken a new approach to data regulations (namely General Data Protection Regulation – GPDR) and now offers more granular data controls, which – briefly putting it – allows marketers to manage how their customers data is collected and retained.
GA4 has considered three particular features concerning data control:
- GA4 users are now able to control how they collect, retain and share their data;
- Users also can choose whether to use the data collected for ads personalization or not;
- And finally, GA4 enables the possibility to delete Analytics data by submitting a request to Google.
Plus, the new Google Analytics 4 is also built to adapt to a possible future with limited (or even nonexistent) cookies and identifiers. Google says that in the future it will include modeling to cover possible data gaps by using machine learning, so that – even in that scenario – marketers and advertisers might be able to have access to accurate data on their customers and to adapt their campaigns.
Why is it better?
Well, like if the presented features weren’t enough, there are other major reasons why companies should change for GA4, that will allow users (meaning companies/ brands) to get better insights. Here’s why:
1. Data collection
This new Google Analytics 4 runs on an event and user-based tracking mode, opposite to the traditional hits, session and user-based tracking used in the previous version.
This means that it allows GA4 users to have access to a quicker and more accurate data, thus allowing a maximum of 10 million events per query, prior to sampling.
Therefore, sampling will become obsolete. And although the session tracking is still available on GA4, the focus is now on events, users, and user engagement.
2. Corporate features
We’re talking about BigQuery integration here, which will allow GA4 users to have access to more advanced data analysis as well as integration with Google Cloud Platform.
It is also expected to have (in the near future) an integration with SA360, DV360, Campaign Manager and Salesforce.
3. Better interface
Let’s face it, a good interface is also in the game here and GA4 takes the lead, giving its users a cleaner and more consolidated data view.
This new interface also displays data-driven attribution and predictive metrics (thanks to machine learning existing on GA4).
4. New metrics and dimensions
GA4 comes empowered with several new metrics and dimensions, namely, new user properties, parameters, engagement metric or e-commerce dimensions.
5. Major event tracking
With GA4, users now will be able to track up to 500 different events per data stream. This means that, given that an event set up allows users to track 25 custom parameters, marketers now have the ability to follow 12.500 custom parameters for their own businesses.
Should companies switch to GA4?
Most will just say: yes, go for it! There are plenty of features and benefits (previously mentioned) that justify changing to Google Analytics 4.
Although the old version of Google Analytics is still available, companies/users can even use it alongside the new Google Analytics 4. The new GA4 gives a wider cross-channel view of the customer lifecycle while providing marketers with more and efficient data and information on their customers.
By mid-2021, GA4 is expected to be fully ready and available. So it may be wise to switch to GA4 around that time or when you consider that your current setup might be adequately integrated with the new GA4.
But keep in mind, in the future, Google Analytics 4 will be the default version.