10 years is a long time in the technology space, and a lot has changed on the web since 2012 when Google’s “Universal Analytics” (UA) was launched. UA saw the rise of “Web 2.0” and the start of “Web 3.0”. But now there’s a new measurement platform on the block, Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
A turning point in data-driven marketing, GA4 has been designed to face the changes in the collection, processing, and activation the modern web, and modern marketers, require including allowances for shifting privacy legislation around the globe and the death of the marketing cookie for advertisement tracking and activation.
GA4 is required for the use of “Google signals”, session data from sites and apps that Google associates with users who have signed into their Google accounts, and who have turned on Ads Personalization. Ads Personalisation also allows Google to track users across multiple browsers, sessions and devices for up to 14 months.
Businesses who have a paid GA360 subscription receive higher limits for Google Analytics 4 property data collection, reporting, retention, and export to BigQuery.
Why the change from UA to GA4?
The Google Universal Analytics platform limitations have increasingly rendered it unable to keep up with the demands of a modern marketer, or expectations of a customer who, due to changes in media consumption have come to expect a homogenous experience as they browse the web across computers, mobiles, tablets, and connected TVs. These same customers are beginning to demand their online privacy be respected, with laws being enacted around the world to enforce this including:
- GDPR – Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations
- CCPA – California Consumer Privacy Act
- LGPD – Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados
- POPI – South Africa’s Protection of personal information
- APPI – Japan’s amended Act on the Protection of Personal Information
With the disappearance of the cookie and the return of the “walled garden”, user data collection relies on consistency and consent. Here in Australia, our privacy laws are currently being reviewed with, what early inductions suggest, will result in some of the strictest data privacy legislation in the world. Nobody wants to be following Google or Trivago being hauled into Federal Court by the ACCC.
Highlights of GA4
- Works across web and apps
- Cross-channel data-driven attribution
- Greater visualization of the cross-device journey
- “Future proof” built for a cookieless environment and changes in data privacy
- Purchase events are now conversions by default
- Up to 14 months retention of event and user data for Analysis in App + Web properties
- Automatic bot-traffic exclusion
- Cross-domain tracking without sophisticated coding requirements
- Gaming concepts in Analysis
- Offline-event data import
- Built-in machine learning, modelling, alerts, and insights
- Conversion modelling where observed data is unavailable (E.G., due to privacy controls)
- Improved Default Channel Groupings
- Churn probability predicted metric
- Cross-channel Data-driven attribution
- Integration with DV360 and SA360
What you need to do to prepare for GA4
For some time now, Digital Balance has been recommending our clients roll out a GA4 property alongside their existing UA configuration.
If you have already rolled out a basic GA4 property, or if you are about to, we suggest that now is the perfect time to
- Hold stakeholder and KPI workshops – ensure that the data being captured by GA4 aligns with business requirements
- Clean up your tag manager – you would be surprised how easily unused tags can accumulate inside a tag manager, especially if it’s managed jointly in-house and by your agency
- Consider the cookieless future – is now also the perfect time to consider the move from client-side (in browser) tags to server-side tagging given the imminent death of the cookie
- Get your First-Person Data Strategy and cookie consent in order
When will UA get switched off?
On 17th March 2022, Google announced that on July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. This means if you want to be able to compare year-on-year data in GA4, you need GA4 configured to capture all the required data end of June 2022 at the absolute latest.
Getting ready to make the switch?
From running workshops to connecting and collecting the data that’s important to you, Digital Balance can help you start your GA4 journey.
Connect with us today email@example.com