GA4: What to Expect of the Google Analytics Change

27 April 2022

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WHAT IS GA4 EXACTLY?

The industry is filled with information on the BIG change from Universal Analytics to GA4. From July 2023, Google Analytics (GA) will be GA4 forevermore. So, what exactly does this mean for the general user of GA?

Universal Analytics currently uses Cookie data, or otherwise known as 3rd party data. In other words when you accept cookies, GA drops a pin on your activity and can share that data to Universal Analytics for you to review, analyse and feed back into your digital strategies. The difference with GA4 is it’s moving to an event-based model, or otherwise known as 1st party data. Aka, no pins being dropped unless you consent to it.

YEAH, BUT WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? 

The big change is a sign of Google’s commitment to protecting personal data and ensuring what data is shared is always consented to. So GA4 will only be sharing consented behaviours from users, and if you choose to stay anonymous and deny GA taking your data, Google will then switch into generalising data through machine learning and AI. In other words, you can either choose to share your real-world behaviours, or Google will make assumptions on what you MIGHT do online, based on other users they deem as being similar to you.

It protects the user, protects the data, and is a sign of AI optimising digital behaviours.

Now, you’re probably asking – what is classed as an ‘event’ in event-based data modeling? Great question!

Events will need to be set up in GA4 and can cover any behaviours you want to track on a website. The general go-tos will no doubt be clicks, scrolls, views, etc and event-based data modelling allows you to really split out those interactions into granular detail. This could be a game changer, as UA currently only allows pre-determined interactions deemed valuable by Google.

As with any change, there are advantages and disadvantages and we’ve included some below. Because let’s be honest, this change will really shake up the digital marketing space. 

ADVANTAGES INCLUDE:

  1. It will allow for cross-platform analysis: The event-based data will allow for different touch points and interactions being noted, and this can really enhance cross-platform analysis when it comes to your digital campaigns.
  2. The amount of data: Being that it’s 1st party data and then machine learning / AI for those wanting to remain anonymous, there will be a huge amount of valuable insights Google will be able to offer us all.
  3. The new engagement metrics: As specified above, these new events can really allow you to break down your engagement data into granular details, and truly understand the online behaviours of your audience / buyers / users / fans. Plus, being able to track scrolls down a page is a game-changer!

DISADVANTAGES INCLUDE:

  1. The change to GA4 will mean tracking things like ecommerce will become hard: There may be answers to this before July 2023, but it’s one to watch out for if you have an ecommerce website.
  2. Remarketing will be completely different: With people getting the opportunity to deny their data being shared, it makes remarketing lists and audience targeting another big change to watch out for. Again, something to consider ahead of July.

OUR ADVICE?

Get GA4 set up ASAP and let it run in the background while you still use Universal Analytics. This is to allow the data to build and to give the AI engine time to understand what behaviours convert for your website, and other key trends. Then come 2023, it won’t be starting from scratch or operating blind. The last thing you want is a period of learning and drawing blanks and the valuable data GA can offer you!

From our Head of SEO, Gary-Eoghan:

“I’m not the kind of person to book a sunny holiday that far in advance, but I do like a good sunset. with Google boldly announcing they’re sunsetting Universal Analytics next July, it could be a summer of discontent for those who don’t act now. And when I say now, I do mean RIGHT NOW.

Since GA4 reared its troublesome self-last year, we’ve been telling clients they need to get GA4 in order now rather than later. That doesn’t just mean knocking on your developer’s door to install some code. That means understanding how Google is giving everyone GA4 like they’ve dumped a box of Lego on the living room floor, i.e. you’ve been giving all the building blocks, it’s now up to you to figure out what order things go in.

We’ve been working on GA4 layouts for clients at this early stage, and even I (who knows their way around Analytics) is often stumped. The value of it can be immense if fine-tuned to your needs, but it really will need fine-tuned by your team to get data who it needs collected and presented.”

 

If you need a Digital Marketing Performance Partner to drive results in 2022, Loud Mouth Media are the people to call. With offices in Belfast, Glasgow, London and Dublin, we have the expertise you need to succeed. Get in touch, here.

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