What is Google Analytics 4?

GA4 (formerly App + Web) is an updated beta version of Google Analytics tracking. The main differences between GA4 and the traditional Universal Analytics is that user activity is being tracked as events, to shift the focus to engagement, as opposed to the historic sessions and pageviews.

In the first instance GA4 might look intimidating, with familiar features either gone or having been replaced with new ones. However, once familiar with the new platform, features and interface, it can revolutionise the future for marketers.

Getting started. How do I set up a new GA4 property?

This is the first vital step when setting up GA4. Navigate to ‘Admin’ and select ‘New Property’ from the centre column. Select the ‘Apps and Web BETA’ property type and click ‘Continue’. Fill out the relevant info and click ‘Create’.

Next, you will need to link a data stream to the property.

  • If you are tracking both website and app traffic, you can add both data streams to one report.
  • If you only use Google Analytics on a website, you’ll only have to set up a website stream.

Google will give you the full G property and code to install it on your site after you’ve created the data stream.

Realtime refresh in GA4

The Realtime Report is where you can check the data is being correctly pulled in following the installation of your code. Instead of multiple individual Realtime reports, these have now been consolidated into one large report in GA4, showing you data from the last 30 minutes.

As mentioned earlier, one of the main changes GA4 brings is the shift of focus to engagement – meaning all activity will now be tracked as events. It’s also worth noting that what we’re used to seeing as ‘Goals’ will change to ‘Conversions’. Also, one of the major positives GA4 brings, is less reliance on coding event tracking in Google Tag Manager. You can now customise and edit events in the interface, which will save a lot of time going forward.

What exactly are ‘Events’ in GA4?

Basically, in GA4 an event is anything that is being tracked. Events provide insight into the activity happening on your website. Events collect pieces of data that correspond to a particular action taken by a customer and give it context. This could include things like the value of purchase, the title of the page a user visited, or the geographic location of the user.

The events menu is pretty easy to consume and quite straightforward to navigate. The buttons at the top of the Events Menu will allow you to make existing event amends, as well as creating new events.

Google explains the difference of ‘Events’ in Universal and GA4:

“In Universal Analytics, events are user interactions measured independently from a web page or screen load. Downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays are often measured as events. Events in Universal Analytics have a Category, Action, Label and sometimes a Value, and are displayed with these fields in your Analytics reports.

In Google Analytics 4 properties, events are user interactions with a website or app that can be measured concurrently or independently from a webpage/screen load. Examples of events include page views, button clicks, user actions, and system event.”

Image from https://www.trackify.co.nz/blog/google-analytics-4-ga4-vs-universal-analytics

What does this mean for marketers?

GA’s cutting-edge features make your life easier by automatically alerting you to important data trends. This new feature will help keep track of your customers’ needs by identifying rising and emerging demands. Subsequently, this enables you to better understand your customers’ buying patterns and gives you the insight needed to anticipate their next move.

New predictive metrics will allow you to more easily monitor the buyer journey for a particular group of customers at a time, enabling you to more easily forecast the potential revenue from each group.

GA4 allows you to more accurately allocate your marketing budget, meaning your margin for ROI is accelerated. The impressive analysis tools enable you to reach higher value customers and give valuable insight as to why some customers spend is higher than others.

Embrace change, especially the type that will make your life as a marketer so much easier!

Since the announcement of GA4 back in October, there’s definitely been some apprehension from marketers in terms of how to approach the transition of such an imperative marketing tool. The good news is, there are no immediate plans to eradicate Universal Analytics right away, but taking the time to familiarise yourself with the new functionalities is definitely going to save you time and stress later down the line.

Although the prospect of transitioning to GA4 looks daunting at first glance, it’s really no big deal as long as you’re prepared. The key is to take the time to read up on the changes and keeping up with updates while the historic version is still live, that way you’re not thrust onto unfamiliar turf and the transition can be a smooth one.

GA4 looks like it’s packed with a world of amazing features and functionalities that will help us become better marketers, so make sure you stay in the game.