What You Need to Know About Google Analytics 4

David Ruckman, Senior Consultant

GA4 made it out of beta and is available now. This is the next generation of Google Analytics and comes with many BIG changes. It has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms. It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on Analytics even as industry changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers create gaps in your data.

You should not be implementing GA4 as the primary analytics quite yet. It is, at the very least, months away from becoming the default Google Analytics platform. But it will get there eventually. Now is the time to begin learning more about GA4—and collecting the data you’ll need to make year-over-year comparisons in the future.

Key Features:

  1. Improved auto insights and machine learning: The insights gathered from the machine learning algorithms look very promising and are an exciting way to gain new insights and visibility on problem triggers without doing any dirty work.

  2. Out-of-the-box event tracking: GA4 comes out-of-the-box ready to collect additional data. With “Enhanced measurement,” you automatically collect data on scrolling, outbound clicks, video engagement, file downloads, and more.

  3. Web and mobile analytics under one roof: Historically, tracking mobile and app data relied on integrations between Firebase and GA, and it was often difficult to understand how your web and app data fit together. GA4, built on the back of Firebase, allows for seamless app and web tracking.

  4. Enhanced measurement of time-based actions: Using the “elapsed time” feature, GA4 can show you how long, on average, it takes your users to complete a defined set of steps. For example, you may want to see how long it takes a user to complete a survey, or how long they read your blog before moving to your product page.

  5. An improved debugging experience: With the live debugging view, you can debug directly in the interface. If you’re using the Google Tag Manager Chrome extension, you can also directly import your data to see—in real time—where the issue might be.

  6. UI changes: GA4 will eventually become the standard, so might as well start familiarizing yourself with the interface.

  7. Funnels reimagined: With GA4, all users now have access to funnels, which were previously reserved only for GA360 users. The new funnel features are far more customizable, allowing you to build retroactive and segmentable funnels.

  8. BigQuery Exports: GA4 allows you to easily export all your data directly to BigQuery, which was previously possible only with GA360.

  9. Built to last: According to their own documentation, Google Analytics 4 is the future of Google Analytics and will be the platform that will receive continued updates and maintenance. Google Analytics 4 is prepared to withstand the inevitable blow that data compliance regulations like GDPR and CCPA will have on the accuracy of our reporting. In addition to that, the cross device and cross platform tracking capabilities in GA4 are far superior to that of Universal Analytics and will continue to evolve over time as new technologies get released.

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