What is Google Analytics 4 and what does it mean for your business?

By Aimee Hart, Strategy & Engagement Lead

As digital commerce continues to grow in importance and presents new opportunities for businesses across the globe, it is vital that they continue to base their strategies on customer data to gain or maintain a competitive advantage. Since its inception, Google Analytics has been a bedrock for detailed insights on consumer behaviour and intelligence.

In October 2020 Google announced the new Google Analytics, known commonly now as Google Analytics 4, or GA4 for short. One year on from its launch, we look at how GA4 is changing the game and what it means for your business.

What are the key differences within GA4?

Since its launch, we’ve been asked what makes GA4 different to the more commonly used Universal Analytics. Here we look at some key features that make up these changes.

Build a unified customer narrative

Google Analytics 4 places more emphasis on tracking users instead of user sessions. A user can interact or take multiple actions on your site, or mobile app, across different platforms and GA4 will allow you to stitch those activities and common metrics together to build a detailed and consistent narrative.

At its core it uses a unified data model to ensure a more centralised role when activating insight across devices and audiences, positioning itself as a tool that is activation centric.

In our recent consumer research on personalisation, customers indicated that they expect online data sharing to be respected. They want a seamless omnichannel digital experience and being able to adequately collect, analyse and activate data is key to delivering on this. Customers will inevitably gravitate towards brands that are delivering on a more relevant digital experience.

GA4 is built for the cookie-less future

As users become more conscious of protecting their personal information and with the introduction of GDPR laws in Europe, we cannot be as reliant on cookies to track users.

The new data model has been designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies. By leveraging machine learning and statistical modeling, GA4 can fill in data gaps through what they term as ‘blended learning’. With this approach, Google prioritises user based data over protecting a user’s privacy while still making interest-based ad selection possible, allowing businesses to build a picture of similar types of users in their vertical.

Access to rich and detailed raw data

A key feature of Google Analytics is the connection to BigQuery. With this update, you can query large and complex sets of data quickly and easily.

Should you consider adopting GA4?

GA4 is now central to Google’s development roadmap and commercial strategy when it comes to analytics. So, it’s not really a case of should you plan for GA4 but when will you plan it in.

It’s worth bearing in mind that GA4 is a fair bit different to UA and requires a level of re-education and familiarisation of the interface and go-to reporting.

We can help you…

Plan for what we know today. Get a head start with a basic dual set up that runs in parallel with your Universal analytics. This means you can start collecting data and benefiting from new feature updates, whilst familiarising yourselves with new reporting interface and data model.

We can also work with you to implement a custom set-up that is specific to your measurement needs. Whatever your requirements, we have the in-house expertise to help you adopt and maximise the opportunities of Google Analytics 4.

Get in touch with our team