If you keep up with the latest in digital marketing news, you might have heard talk of Google Analytics 4 buzzing around. And even if you haven’t heard about GA4, you’ve probably read that Google will stop supporting Universal Analytics in June of next year.
There are a lot of voices out there discussing GA4, so it can be tricky to know exactly what’s going on. You shouldn’t need a degree in marketing or computer science to understand what GA4 is. We’re here to cut through the noise and talk about GA4 in simple terms—no fancy jargon or flashy graphs.
We’re breaking down the basics of Google Analytics 4: what it is, how it differs from other programs, and when you should start using it.
What Is GA4?
Google Analytics 4, often shortened to GA4, is the latest version of Google’s analytics service, released in 2020. It is slated to overtake Universal Analytics as Google’s primary analytics platform.
If you run a website for your business, you probably have at least passing knowledge of Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides data about how people interact with your website, which pages garner more traffic, and what kinds of people use your website. You can use this data to get a better understanding of your audience and which products or services they want most.
GA4 and all Google Analytics services are essential for anyone who does digital marketing. Google Analytics gives you detailed data about your audience and website performance, which will inform your digital marketing strategy.
What Makes GA4 Different?
To understand GA4, you have to know a little bit about Universal Analytics, its predecessor in data analysis.
Universal Analytics is based on the age of desktop internet use, according to Russell Ketchum, director of product management at Google. “Online measurement anchored in desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies . . . is quickly becoming obsolete.”
Because of changes in privacy regulations and the way your audience uses the internet, Universal Analytics is not as useful as it once was.
GA4 puts a greater focus on user privacy. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 doesn’t use third-party cookies to track user activity.
GA4 also sets itself apart from other analytics programs because it can be used across platforms, bringing together data from both websites and apps.
Here are some of the perks of GA4:
- Cross-platform data, so you can analyze data from both websites and apps.
- Real-time reports with more details than previous analytics programs
- GA4 does not track IP addresses, in accordance with privacy laws
- Advanced predictive marketing capabilities give you more accurate insights about your customers and ways to engage with them
Most of your audience doesn’t use the internet exclusively on a desktop. Mobile device use is increasing, and many people use both desktop and mobile devices. GA4 is better equipped than Universal Analytics for this hybrid desktop-mobile internet use.
When Should I Start Using GA4?
You might be reluctant to switch to GA4, especially if you’re used to Universal Analytics. GA4 is still a relatively new program, with Google still adding updates and features. But Universal Analytics will soon be obsolete, making it crucial for you to change to GA4.
If you haven’t already switched to GA4, you should. You have less than a year before Google will phase out Universal Analytics, forcing you to make the switch.
Google will stop supporting standard Universal Analytics on June 1, 2023. 360 Universal Analytics will stop processing on October 1, 2023.
Making the change to GA4 comes with a bit of a learning curve. It may take you some time to get used to the new layout and different metrics. But GA4 will give you more relevant data than Universal Analytics, data that more accurately reflects the internet habits of your audience.
Need help deciphering the numbers and trends from your brand’s online presence? You don’t have to do it alone. Schedule a call with Sigl Creative and let us help you strategize how to make the most of your digital marketing.