10 Reasons Why You Need To Setup Google Analytics 4

Discover The Future Of Analytics

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the next generation of Google Analytics. This new iteration has allowed marketers improved flexibility and scalability to help meet their measurement needs. Prior to GA4, Universal Analytics (UA) was the existing web-only property from Google Analytics and Firebase was for apps. Both website and app data can now be processed through GA4 properties. Allowing businesses with both website and apps to combine both streams of data in one place.

1. Say Goodbye To Google Universal Analytics

As you might have already heard, Google announced that it will be discontinuing its Universal Analytics (UA) platform on June 30, 2023. We don’t recommend waiting until UA has officially sunset. We won’t be able to go back and collect data before the day your GA4 property was set up, so don’t delay.

If you already have a UA property, set up a new GA4 property alongside your existing property to take advantage of the new Analytics features as they launch. No need to replace it!

2. Establish Year Over Year Data In GA4

There is a little over a year left to make the transition (from the time that this blog was written) to ensure you have year-over-year data in your new GA4 property. The sooner you enable GA4 access, the sooner you can take advantage of the latest analytics upgrades and capture more meaningful insights over a longer period of time.

Read our blog to get started on setting up your GA4 property today.

3. GA4 Is Constantly Improving

GA4 is fully operational and continues to add new features and innovations. Google wanted to redesign the infrastructure to make Analytics more user-friendly and preserve the key functionality of UA.

Here are some of the ways that set GA4 apart from UA:

Universal Analytics Google Analytics 4
Measurement & Analysis Session-based data models that groups user interactions within a given time frame. Flexible event-based data models that processes each user interaction as a standalone event.
Reporting Cross-device and cross-platform reporting is limited. Has full cross-device and cross-platform reporting.
Automation Has limited automation. Machine learning to improve and simplify insight discovery across the platform.

4. Customizable UI & Reporting

If you already have your GA4 property set up, you’ll notice that it is very different from UA. Reports and Explorations are the two new reporting areas in the latest Google Analytics experience. They’re designed to give you more actionable insights into website and app data from technical analysis to high-level reporting. Marketers can explore deeper data and insights to answer key questions about their business with custom reporting in GA4.

Historically, you could customize predefined reporting to an extent with Custom Reports in UA. But you might have found it difficult to find specific insights if the information you’re looking for wasn’t available in an existing report.

In GA4, reporting is not only simplified but delivers a handful of summary cards and overview reports that cover single insights about your business. Each of these summary cards gives users access to more comprehensive data providing more flexibility and deeper insights.

If the information you’re looking for isn’t covered in the reporting section, analyze your data with more flexibility using the Explorations tool. Explorations allow you to drag and drop the dimensions and metrics you need using a variety of techniques (i.e. funnel exploration, path exploration, and free form exploration). Easily filter, segment, sort, and refine your data to deliver key insights your business cares about. GA4 also allows us to create audiences and segments, and choose our favourite graphs for each report (i.e. line graph, bar graph, and scatter plot).

5. BigQuery Is Free To All Users

BigQuery is Google Cloud's enterprise data warehouse designed to help you easily ingest, store, analyze, and visualize data in real-time. Previously in UA, this functionality was only available to GA360’s paying customers. Export Analytics data to BigQuery to securely store data in the cloud. We can also combine it with data from other sources and run queries across data sets. It also allows us to move our data to any other system we want to use to interpret it. This integration opens a lot of doors for advanced modelling and analysis.

6. GA4’s New Data Model Got An Upgrade

Previously, UA had a very static data table that suffered from technical debt and a sampling program that got worse the more detailed your data collection was. UA properties grouped data into sessions and were the foundation of all its reporting. A session was a group of website interactions a user took within a given time frame.

During a session, UA collected and stored user interactions (i.e. pageviews, events, and ecommerce transactions) as hits. These sessions can contain multiple hits depending on user interaction. Events also required a category, action, label, and value.

With GA4, you now have the freedom to choose when to collect and how to collect it using an event-based data model. You are still able to see session data, but GA4 collects and stores user interactions with your website and app as events. By moving to event-based collection, this new data model makes the platform flexible, scalable, and able to perform more custom calculations to be more responsive to queries. The best part is it consistently measures user interactions across devices and platforms and provides richer insights.

7. Collect Baseline Data With The Enhanced Measurement

Many basic user interactions are automatically collected as events in GA4. One example is “first visit” events for first time users on your website being automatically logged this as a separate event.

You can also enable the Enhanced Measurement feature when setting up your GA4 property. This option allows you to automatically collect baseline data on your website with little setup and without having to update any code on your website. Enhanced Measurement allows you to track the following common web events:

  • Page views
  • Scrolls
  • Outbound clicks
  • Site search
  • Video engagement
  • Files downloads

This baseline of information is more than a basic UA implementation was able to deliver. You have the ability to disable Enhanced Measurement if you prefer to track custom versions of the events listed above. Read our blog on how to track custom events in GA4 using Google Tag Manager (GTM).

8. Improved Analytics With Identity Spaces

Identity spaces in Google Analytics are used as identifiers to understand a users journey on your website or app. The three identity spaces include users IDs, Google signals, and device IDs.

User ID: If available, you can use your own generated IDs for signed-in users to accurately measure their journeys across devices. Enable this feature by consistently assigning IDs to your users along with the data you send to GA4.

Google Signals: Google Signals uses data from users signed in with Google accounts. Analytics can associate these users on your site with event data for signed-in Google users who have consented to sharing their information. There are no website or app modifications necessary for enabling Google Signals, just turn it on.

Device ID: The last Analytics identity space available is device ID. A device ID on a website is identified by the user’s browser. On an app, a user’s device ID comes from the app instance ID. No further setup is needed in Google Analytics.

Historically, UA relies heavily on device ID as an identity space although some reports and features use Google Signals. The user ID feature would report data separated from the rest and doesn’t integrate with other identity spaces. Therefore, UA makes it difficult to measure user journeys across multiple devices and deduplicate users. Having access to only one identity space, like device ID for example, a single visitor could appear as a different user each time they interact with your website on a different device.

GA4 combines the use of all available identity spaces. The use of multiple identity spaces can give us better insight into user journeys, with more cross-device and cross-platform data and reporting that reflects de-duplicated users.

9. New Privacy Controls

Google has a focus on user privacy and GDPR compliance with their new GA4 platform. You no longer need to worry about anonymization because IP addresses are not logged or stored in GA4. It is enabled by default and can't be disabled.

In regards to identity spaces, Google Signals put the control of user data in the hands of the user. From a privacy perspective, users who don't want to share their Google Signals data can turn off Ad Personalization in their ads settings.

10. GA4 Is The Future Of Google Analytics

Like it or not, we have to say goodbye to UA. All future development will be invested in GA4 as the future of Google Analytics. There is no shortage of exciting things on the future GA4 roadmap.

Depending on the different types of data your business needs, here are two other steps we can take to get the most out of GA4.

Add recommended events for your business that may not be automatically collected in your GA4 property. Measuring recommended events will give your business more detailed data you can benefit from as more Analytics features and integrations become available.

Link to Google Ads so your new property will have access to your advertising data.

What’s Next?

If you found this blog helpful and are ready to get the most out of your GA4 property, reach out to our friendly team at [email protected]. We are happy to help!

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Meet Theresa Gutierrez

Sitecore Strategist | Sitecore Strategy MVP

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Theresa, aka 'T', is a high-energy marketing creative with 8+ years of experience across various industries. She's passionate about delivering strategy and design, with a focus on Sitecore SaaS technologies. T is an avid golfer and loving dog momma, appeased only by delicious food and a bevy of something bubbly. Cheers!

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