20/02/2023 • Steve Baker
This week, Google announced that they were sunsutting the current version of Google Analytics (GA3, Universal Analytics) in favour of their new GA4 platform. This means that anyone not using GA4 currently, will no longer be able to see GA data for their website, beyond 1st July 2023.
Google has been pushing GA4 for some time, on the basis that it has much more robust data than UA. GA4 officially launched in October 2020, and places a heavy focus on the event-based model, compared to the pageview model UA runs off. GA4 will display page views as an event, and in doing so, it places a heavy emphasis on website owners understanding what “events” they want users to take.
Google’s explanation of the differences between the two platforms is:
“In Universal Analytics, events are user interactions measured independently from a web page or screen load. Downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays are often measured as events. Events in Universal Analytics have a Category, Action, Label and sometimes a Value, and are displayed with these fields in your Analytics reports.
In Google Analytics 4 properties, events are user interactions with a website or app that can be measured concurrently or independently from a webpage/screen load. Examples of events include page views, button clicks, user actions, and system events.”
So GA4 according to Google is better than UA as it allows the user access to:
Google has provided a helpful walkthrough of GA4 via YouTube which is well worth a watch.
Our team has been looking into the implications of this change on a channel level. Here’s our take:
“The introduction of free to all data-driven attribution is the most interesting improvement for me. No longer will the last click win for digital marketing channels, but website owners will need to take into account the impact across all channels. This will allow a much more thorough analysis of users’ journeys and conversion paths. Initially, the reliability and trust in this data all depends on how much we trust Google’s model and how much data needs to be collected to be able to train and validate such a model. The idea from there is that users can choose which attribution model to use, although reviewing this on a 3-month basis is very much recommended, depending on the data volume.”
“GA4 could be really useful from a UX point of view which will aid organic insights and performance too. We will get a better idea of how users interact with websites to see what they like and don't like, therefore allowing us to optimise CTAs for better conversion numbers. The churn metric could be quite useful if it outlines trending products/topics and may allow us to refocus our efforts on certain areas if they are seeing spikes in demand”
YoY comparisons could be tough moving forward though, as you will be comparing data across platforms. Keeping a log of historic data somewhere maybe a useful thing to do.”
“The main impact from a PPC point of view will be reporting. GA4 will vary what we are able to report on, comparatively to what we report on now. Campaign tags will also be affected, as we'll need to update all tracking to GA4 events and conversions.
We will be focusing our efforts on getting clients who aren’t already transitioned over to GA4, to do so ASAP, and syncing this with Google Ads. Conversion and tracking updates will need to be made before switching over, and reporting practices will need updating to GA4 as soon as clients are migrated and use UA as a backup.
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