GA 4 – Google Analytics 4, What is it & why should you care?

Back in October of 2020, a very understated rollout of Google Analytics 4 occurred. Whilst the rollout happened with very little notice, opinions around GA 4 are definitely split. Today we will go through what exactly GA 4 is, what this means for your tracking and the future of UA (Universal Analytics) tracking.

What exactly is GA 4?

Google Analytics 4 is definitely a taster of what’s to come from Google. With this update, we get an insight into the future aims for analytics tracking. It adds AI-Powered Insights with the ability to track users across devices providing webmasters and marketers with a greater level of detail. In addition to this, GA 4 provides a much more detailed integration with Google Ads with the main talking point being the new AI-powered insights.

AI-powered insights are one of the main talking points relating to GA 4. Whilst this functionality is nothing new, the ability for GA 4 to automatically spot different trends and report this to digital marketers is immense. The AI-powered insights have the ability to highlight surging demands for different products providing, predict churn rates and forecast the amount of revenue business could potentially earn from a specific demographic and market segment.

A new user interface

One of the big talking points has been the new user interface. Whilst it is definitely a positive step, it is vastly different from the view marketers will be used to through the UA tracking. Upon signing in you will be created by a snapshot of traffic for a given date range, users in the last 30 minutes and the insights box which can be used for new custom insights and key metrics that you want to see instantly:

GA 4 Screenshot

The menu on the left-hand side is drastically different with the addition of lifecycle and other sub-sections such as monetisation and retention to name a few. It is now much easier to create new audiences through the configure -> audiences section. Overall this new modern look for analytics is something that many will learn to love.

Cross-platform tracking and integrations with Google Ads. As marketers, we are now able to benefit from the enhanced tracking that GA 4 offers. We can now get the most from our audiences with cross-platform tracking. This means that anyone who visits via an app and is then redirected to the web version and converts on the web version, will automatically be removed from audiences so that retargeting ads are not shown to that user.

The features listed above are some of the main areas we wanted to highlight but if you would like to see the full detail on what GA 4 can do then definitely head over to Google’s blog detailing the first release of GA 4.

What does this mean for UA tracking?

All it takes is a quick Twitter search to see that opinions around GA 4 are split…

Twitter GA 4

Because of this, Google has since added the ability to create UA tracking codes when setting up new analytics accounts. This allows marketers to create the old style of analytics account and also a combination of GA 4 and UA. It is extremely easy to do this by following the steps below:

  1. Hit the ‘show advanced options’ when setting up your new GA account:UA Section 1
  2. Hit the toggle setting next to Create a Universal Analytics property:
  3. Decide if you want to set up an account for both GA and UA or just UA. Creating an account for both GA 4 and UA will create two properties with connected site tags which meaning only one tag needs to be added to your website:

UA section 3

Once set up you will be asked to add the tracking code to your website through adding to the <head> of every page or the easier and recommended way through Google Tag Manager.

What steps should you take?

Through the creation of a Google Analytics 4 account, you will be benefiting from Google’s most advanced analytics tracking. You’ll be given the tools to collect new and improved insights on how users navigate, interact & convert on your website. In addition to this, you will benefit from Google’s new forecasting features, enhanced AI & behaviour focused data modelling and begin to make even more informed decisions from data.



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