The new version of Google Analytics has been launched. On the 14th of October 2020, the Google Analytics team announced that the App and Web property has been rebranded as Google Analytics 4 and will be the new version of Google Analytics going forward. This is a major step in the Google Analytics offering as Google Analytics 4 operates on a completely different principle to its predecessor, Universal Analytics.
What is Google Analytics 4?
The App and Web property was initially launched in July 2019 and had been in beta up till now. As the name implies the App and Web property type, and now Google Analytics 4, takes data from both your website and your mobile apps and combines them into one data set. Previously, if you had a website/web app, an iOS app, and an android app you would have required 3 separate properties to track these.
What’s New in Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics has a number of new features as well as an entirely new method for collecting data. The primary new features are the combination of web and app data, new machine learning driven insights and new ways to handle your user’s data.
App and Web Data in The Same Property
Google Analytics 4 allows you to directly compare user behavior, product sales, and campaign performance across all your platforms. This means you are able to get a full picture of the comparative impact of each platform but also potentially how they work in concert with each other. Primarily though this is a customer-focused approach where if set up correctly will allow you to gain insights about the customers entire lifecycle with your company. You are able to build a picture of how customers interact with your complete set of web and app portals at the different stages of their lifecycle be it awareness, consideration, becoming a new customer, becoming a complete customer, and eventually churning.
Insights Based on Machine Learning
Google states that the primary advantage of Google Analytics 4 is the machine learning features that power the insights it provides. These will provide smarter, more accurate and more timely insights into your data. For example, you can automatically be alerted when the system determines a product or blog post is gaining more attention than usual allowing you to act and take advantage of this increased attention. But even more than this the insights engine can make predictions about future behavior such as the likelihood that a customer group will churn allowing you to provide timely interventions to retain those customers. Google will be adding more predictive measures in the future and are actively working on providing a predicted revenue metric for segments of visitors. This would allow you to create audiences to advertise to customers with higher potential value and analyses why some customers are likely to spend more than others.
Better Management of User Data
A change that is interesting from a data protection and compliance point of view is the handling of user’s data in Google Analytics 4. All of the data collection, storage, and protection options that existed for Universal Analytics – like IP anonymization, setting the data retention period, a data processing agreement, and deleting specific user’s data – are still available. Additionally, in Google Analytics 4, you can control which types of Events and which User Properties are used for event personalization. You can also exclude specific events from triggering ad personalization. For example, you can ensure that no event trigger’s ad personalization until consent is given.
New Ways of Data Collection
In Google Analytics 4, data is added in the form of Data Streams. There are Web Data Streams and App Data Streams (Currently these are only for IOS and Android Apps). Unlike in previous iterations, Pageviews and Events are not separate entities. Every touchpoint that data is collected for is now considered a GA4 Event within the stream of data.
Events each have their own Parameters. These take the place of the old Event Category, Action, Label dimensions and give better context to each event type. As the number and names of the parameters are specific to each event type more information is available than was previously provided for events. The Google Analytics users do not need to remember what the Category, Action, and Label are set up to show as the names of parameters are more descriptive.
Finally, each website visitor has User Properties that can be set. Some are automatically collected like their country, age bracket, or the device they are using but custom properties can be created and used for things like whether they have opted in for personalization of advertising.
The app Datastreams are similar in that they track data as a series of Events each with its own Parameters. They differ from the web Datastreams in that they are implemented through Google’s Firebase app development suite and then joined to Google Analytics.
What should your next steps be?
Google Analytics 4 is already the default experience when creating a new Google Analytics instance. However, it does not yet have the complete feature set of Universal Analytics. As such we, and Google themselves, do not recommend that you replace your existing Google Analytics properties with new Google Analytics 4 properties just yet. However, it is recommended that you set up Google Analytics 4 properties to run in parallel with your existing properties. That way you will not only keep all the features you currently have in Universal Analytics, but you will also get all the new features that already exist in Google Analytics 4 and those that will be released in the future.
If you would like help with setting up your new Google Analytics 4 property and ensuring all your existing data is included, and even improved, in Google Analytics 4 then we would be happy to assist you.