Discover What’s New About Google Analytics 4

In today’s Lunch and Learn video, let’s talk about the recent massive update that Google announced in October 2020. We will explore and look closely at all the interesting new features Google Analytics 4 has to offer versus Universal Analytics.

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Watch the full video above, and read through the transcript below.

Hello, my name is Jaclyn Hawtin. I am here with Digital Dames and today I’d like to share some exciting new information with you about the new Google Analytics 4 platform.

So we’re in the fourth major version of Google Analytics. Back in 2005, we started out with urchin and we’ve had a couple of versions since then. But there are some major differences with this latest update. I’m going to go into the details here and share them with you. So the primary thing is that we’ve moved from the kind of page view session-based data model to an event-driven data model. So the primary difference between GA 4 and legacy versions of Google Analytics is that. Google Analytics 4 basically makes a page view slash screen view concept simpler by implementing a more flexible system of events and parameters. So this is great when it makes sense to view your data through the lens of page views and screen views, you should do that, but these are no longer going to be your fundamental building blocks that they used to be.

So let’s talk about some of the benefits of Google Analytics 4 and what does it mean for your business? So first off Google Analytics 4 is built to scale with your business. It can measure, unify and de-duplicate all of the interactions people have with your company across devices and platforms so that you can have a complete, relevant and timely understanding of your customer journey. For marketers, cross-platform campaign attribution is really, really important. And also if you do manage both websites and mobile apps, your ability to truly roll up the data means that your campaign attribution and the audiences you create will finally be intelligent enough to consider all of your users’ touchpoints with your brand, regardless of the platform. So this is really exciting. This is what we’ve all been wanting for a very long time.

Google Analytics 4 also helps you to adapt to a changing environment. So it offers responsible, durable measurement that enables your business outcomes for the long-term while meeting user expectations for privacy. So we have a lot of privacy changes that are coming our way. Some of them started to already be implemented. But there’s going to be a lot more to come. And this system is built to adapt to that changing environment of all of these new releases of privacy regulations. So this is going to help you with that. Help you to manage that process.

This new system reveals intelligent business insights. So it automates and facilitates insight discovery with the power of Google’s machine learning, making it frictionless to get the most value from your data. There’s a new audience feature with machine learning where you can group users based on the probability that they will purchase or churn using machine learning, which is really amazing. So this is kind of like programmatic ad buying, but here you can use your first-party web behavior to generate these predictions, rather than relying on third-party data coming from systems like Google or Facebook,

This system is also going to help you to better achieve your marketing goals. So it allows you to more effectively take action on your data and insights to achieve measurable marketing outcomes. So this is pretty cool. This is just a little screenshot of the analysis hub improvements. So you have a lot more predesigned reporting templates available to you as well as a lot more options for developing your own reports. So these reports previously were only available to GA 360 users and now you can access them for free. They’re way more powerful, and they can do things like explore the data, look at individual user behavior, create custom conversion funnels and observe pathing analysis.

Now, one of the reasons that reporting is a lot more sophisticated is because you now have access to non-aggregated data within this system. You can zone in down to user behavior on the individual user level which gives you a lot more opportunity for doing a higher level of creative analysis, that is more specific to your particular type of organizational goals. If you’re a developer this tool probably caught your attention. They have built a new debugging tool into the actual Google Analytics interface and it allows you to isolate the real-time data that’s flowing in from your own machine while you’re testing your code. So, this means that you no longer will have to teach non-technical teams how to use Chrome developer tools or a proxy. Pretty, pretty amazing stuff.

Some tips for planning your migration. We want to think about what kind of business questions you’re trying to answer with GA4, you know, before actually getting in and doing the technical implementation, take a step back and think about what are the business questions that I am currently answering if I have a current installation of Google Universal Analytics. And because there’s more sophistication with this system, take a step back and say, are there other things that I can answer with this new toolset? So you can expand upon that. And you want to think about the timeframe. So how long should I expect to continue using the old version of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics alongside my Google Analytics 4 installation? I’m guessing that most organizations, especially organizations that have been using Universal Analytics for a while, will probably end up keeping them running simultaneously, at least for the next year, maybe a little bit more just to be able to do really easy historical cross-reference reporting, that type of thing. And just being used to sort of that reporting environment, it takes a little while for your team to learn how to use a new tool.

How can you prepare for Google Analytics for privacy measures that are going to be rolled out by browsers in the next year or two? So that’s definitely a consideration. There are a lot of new processes, methods, and even third-party tools that are designed to plug into this new system. They’re going to help you as an organization to abide by those new privacy requirements that are coming out. So it’s really important that your technical team works to understand how all of that stuff is going to interact and you can get that put into place in a timely manner. And then you also want to think about how to develop a transition plan to allow your team enough time to learn these new tools.

So it’s a good, you know, best practice when you’re implementing a new system to have some sort of documentation created for your organization. And to have everybody go through that training kind of at the same time. So you can share questions and learn together and add to it as you integrate new tools and that sort of thing.

So those are my recommendations for tips for planning your, your new Google Analytics 4 migration. Again, my name is Jaclyn Hawtin, I’m here with Digital Dames and I hope this was helpful to you in your growth process and to lay your new analytics foundation out for you. Thank you so much. As always contact me with any questions that you may have.

Have a great day!

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post

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Post Contributors

Jaclyn Hawtin

Jaclyn Hawtin

Senior Data Architect

Over a decade of experience in product management, devops, startups, and agile methodologies. Track record of simplifying complex technical processes for cross-functional teams. Proficient in user centered design, UX, IX, UI, IA, user research and data analytics for responsive web, mobile and tablet applications. Incredibly adaptable, fluent with both people and machines.

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Conversion optimization manager

Mani is a senior marketing manager with roots in storytelling. She nerds out on everything data, technology, human behavior and design. Chat with her about UX/UI, marketing funnels, conversion and goal tracking, marketing experimentation and astrology (she’s a Virgo Sun, Aries Rising).

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