The Era Of GA4 – Discover What It Means For You
Google announced on March 16th, the end of an era. Universal Analytics, or GA3, which has been a mainstay in every marketer’s toolbox since it was released to the public in October of 2012, is finally being retired. Google stated, in a press release today, that Universal Analytics will cease to gather data as of July 1, 2023, and all its historical data will become unavailable as of Jan 1, 2024.
While as an industry we knew this moment was coming – the timing here was a shock. The expectation of 2 to 3 years before sunset has obviously been expedited. The consensus here is that Google is finally forcing the upgrade as missing features, and poor communication of the benefits of GA4 has led to a very low adoption rate across the industry since it made its way out of Beta in 2020.
What is GA4?
Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete as cookies are depreciated and the web moves to our mobile devices. GA4 was designed and built to operate across platforms (web + app), does not rely exclusively on cookies and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement with a focus on privacy. This leaves GA4 uniquely prepared for the future of the web.
What are the benefits of GA4?
- Insights across touchpoints: Get a complete view of the customer lifecycle with a measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.
- Data-driven attribution: Assigns attribution credit to more than just the last click, helping you understand how different marketing activities collectively influence conversions.
- More valuable data: Machine learning generates predictive insights about user behaviour and conversions, creates new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn, and automatically surfaces critical insights.
- More actionable data: Expanded integrations with other Google products, like Google Ads, work across GA4’s combined web and app data, making it easy to use Analytics insights to optimize ad campaigns.
- Built for enterprise: New sub and roll-up properties in Analytics 360 allow you to customize the structure of your Google Analytics 4 properties to meet data governance needs.
What does this mean for me?
The short answer here is its time for an upgrade. Some have already started and have a GA4 property in their Google Analytics account already. For those who do not – now is the time to start. Since GA4 does not carry over any historical performance it is advised to start that upgrade process as soon as possible. This will ensure that when a full switch over to GA4 happens in the next 12-16 months we have at least 12 months of recorded data in the platform.
Another thing to keep in mind is training – GA4 is not a carbon copy of universal analytics. The reports are organized differently and metrics have changed. It may be required to re-learn how to pull the data that you are so used to pulling without thinking right now.