Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – the platform we’ve all been hearing about for months and are required to use in less than a year. Is anyone else overwhelmed with the switch?
If you are, no worries. The Collab is here to help. Let’s chat about the basics of the transition.
Why is it Happening?
Since Universal Analytics (UA) was launched 10 years ago, how people use the internet has changed significantly. When’s the last time you looked up a site on a desktop before you viewed it on mobile? Even when your laptop is sitting right there?
The desktop first experience is outdated, but that’s the world that UA was built for. Well, UA was built for a desktop friendly world and a world without strict privacy laws. Both have changed and Google responded by building a platform that harnesses mobile data while keeping privacy laws in mind.
The key improvement: GA4 is built to be more than just a reporting platform. It’s a system built with AI to help complete data models with a focus on privacy. Instead of only sorting the data and reporting numbers, GA4 is an all inclusive platform for app and web data that highlights the user journey from first visit to final conversion.
The short answer: everything. How Google is actually measuring user data is different between the two platforms, so everything from how we discuss interactions with our sites and apps to some of the metrics themselves are changing.
Let’s break it down to the basics, with a little help from Google itself. The basis of measurement for UA was the Session-Based Model. According to Google, a session is “a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame," but a user can open multiple sessions. Fundamentally, UA data was collected based on pageviews.
GA4, on the other hand, is an Event-Based Model. Google defines an event as a tool that allows you to “measure distinct user interaction on a website or app." Actions that required custom code in UA and Google Tag Manager code should be easier to input in GA4.
So, let’s put this into perspective:
What Does This Mean for Me?
Well, if you’re planning on completing the switch by yourself, you’re not alone. According to a poll done by Search Engine Land, 70% of the 250 marketers they interviewed are planning on doing the switch themselves.
But, as we’ve just covered, the switch is going to take time, effort, and completely reimagining how you discuss your website metrics. If you’re already overloaded, it’s worth considering bringing on a partner to help implement the switch.
Some things to consider:
Historical data will not port over from your UA account to your GA4 account,
Long-standing reports will likely not work on the new platform, so they’ll need to be reconsidered, and
Data from your UA account will only remain accessible until the end of 2023.
Regardless of which path is right for you, The Collab is here to help. Follow us on Linkedin and watch for our blog series, #learningGA4, as we tackle this analytics shift together. If you’re looking to start, click the button below and fill out our form!
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