GA4 – This is why you need to look at the new Google Analytics, even if it’s in BETA.

“Is it time I move my web and app measurement to Google Analytics 4”, you might be thinking.

In short, the answer is: No.

Why?

GA4 is still in beta and our tests of the system have revealed a number of major flaws that are necessary for a proper setup.

But why are we asking you to take a stand now?

Simply because data from Universal Google Analytics cannot be transferred to GA4. At least not as it looks now. Therefore, you are doing yourself a huge favour by investing in getting GA4 set up now, so that from today it collects data, tracks conversions, app downloads and last but not least makes sure that you, when you maybe in about 8-12 months choose to put your trust in GA4, already have data almost a year back in time.

In doubt about what GA4 is? Keep on reading.

GA4 is Google’s new analytics platform, which will carry on the legacy from the “good old” Universal Analytics. In the future, GA4 will be their new digital playground for data.

Is there any significant difference between the two platforms?

Yes, there certainly is, with an AI core the new platform is using machine learning to predict customer behavior and close the data gaps created by the GDPR restrictions on cookies.

Would you like us to help you with your switch to GA4? Call us on +45 71 99 16 00

What’s new?

You may have thought about what makes GA4 interesting to you.

And it’s actually a lot. Because GA4 is completely re-thought, it is based on the same principles as their Web + App property setup (which actually is the one that has been renamed GA4). This means that it is built with an event-based structure, and is created for a cookie and identifier-free future. One of the things we think is super interesting is that you can have several data sources – both web and app – in the same property.

What does all these new features mean for you?

The new interface and reporting universe is powered by machine learning, which means that it processes data across YouTube, in-app purchases, Google Ads and website traffic. These links will improve audience lists, predict customer behavior, notify the site owner about increasing product popularity, and more.

For example we look forward to testing exactly how it changes the way you use audiences from Google Analytics 

Overall, the significant differences are:

  • Machine learning core – improved data insight and predictive in relation to customer behavior
  • Crossdomain tracking – follows the customer across the website and app
  • Event-based measurement
  • Expanded reporting universe
  • Great e-commerce opportunities and integration with Google Ads

Join our webinar and learn a lot more about the many new features.
NB the webinar is in Danish.

Source: Google

So what exactly can the new AI core do?

With the new machine learning core, GA4 is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers. It uses a flexible approach to measurement and will in the future include Modeling to close the gaps where the data is incomplete.

How can it help you?

This helps you, as it closes gaps in data collection – we’ve all been experiencing this as a growing issue the last couple of years. The issue has been caused by GDPR restrictions and cookies.

GA4 also has an option to help you comply with data restrictions such as the GDPR. With a consent mode designed for websites that must obtain the end user’s permission to collect Analytics data. This new set-up provides separate opt-in options for Analytics and Ads. These can give you more data to work with, while complying with restrictions in the field.

Can the AI core do anything else?

Yes! Another thing that we think is super interesting is that the machine learning core makes it possible to predict customer behavior. GA4 can track and alert you to significant trends, e.g. increase in demand for your products due to customer needs dynamics. And it is valuable information for you to have.

How is that possible?

It’s possible, because it uses a probability system to find an effective way to invest in retaining customers if you have a limited budget. That way, you can act well in advance and customize your advertising efforts.

Source: Google

Another thing we like, as we already mentioned, is Cross Domain tracking.

But how do you benefit from Cross domain tracking?

You get a more complete overview of how your customers interact with your company, as the new Analytics gives you a customer-oriented tracking, instead of a tracking fragmented by device or platform.

Why is it interesting?

This is especially an exciting feature for companies with apps and in some cases e-commerce, where the tracking has been improved. The cool thing is that you can now gather both web and app data in one tool. Previously you had to integrate these numbers from Firebase or similar tools. However note that you do not necessarily have to say goodbye to Firebase.

Code-free event tracking – and yet not

If the fact that GA4 provides code-free tracking has caught your attention, we would recommend that you do not get your hopes too high.

It sounds amazing that GA4 collects data event-based, and it is thereby possible to use code-free event tracking, which makes it easier for you to track and measure actions on your website and app in real time. It can e.g. be tracking scrolls or video playback without having to add code to the website or set up event tracking in Google Tag Manager.

So why can’t your expectations be too high?

This is because code-free tracking only applies to a small selection of very wide automatically set up event conversions – clicks, scroll, first visit etc. – on all your subpages on the website. If you want to analyze something more specific, which is often the case, tags need to be set up to track those conversions.

However, this will not make us lose interest in GA4 completely.

Can reports be made sexy?

No – but the new reporting universe in GA4 is on it’s way. The interface has generally received an overhaul that is significantly more manageable than the GA Universal. And then many new reporting options have been developed in a more manageable design. They can be found in the new Analysis Hub.

So what can you get out of it?

The new visual look is more widget-based, and is relatively intuitive for you to navigate. There’s also a new expanded comparison feature and a wide range of predictive reports that predicts customer behavior based on machine learning. Reports might be a bit sexy anyway.

Expanded e-commerce and Ads

The e-commerce and the Ads section have been expanded in GA4. This gives you some brand new options.

And what are they then?

A significant improvement can be found within e-commerce, where there is an expanded platform and several different types of reports. The Monetization tab is the new e-commerce part of GA4.

For you who are a Google Ads user, you will also experience a difference here, as Ads due to the new machine learning core and Cross Domain tracking, will have a greater degree of integration with GA4.

But, but … GA4 is under development

And easily spotted since there still are a number of key features that are not ready on the new platform, therefore we recommend that you set up GA4 now and run it side by side with the existing Google Analytics Universal.

Google developers are constantly working on the development of GA4, Nov. 20. 2020, they launched new updates that we believe closes some key gaps. They launched features like audiences, filters and cross-domain measurement. These are good steps in the right direction, but there is still some way to go until GA4 is completely ready for use.

How significant are the shortcomings right now?

They are quite significant, e.g. it’s not yet possible to link to Search Console and other platforms. Over time, GA4 data can also be accessed from for example Search Console and DataStudio.

This may sound like big shortcomings, and it is, BUT:

You need to get started now anyway!

Why?

Because it’s important to get started as soon as possible so you can start collecting data, for the Google Analytics platform you know will no longer be updated and eventually it will be completely phased out.

So even though GA4 is not 100% ready, it is important to start collecting data now, as it is crucial to have a well-functioning Analytics platform when the old one is being phased out. Google Analytics Universal is not compatible with GA4, so the sooner you start collecting data, the better.

However, Google has mentioned that it may be possible to transfer data from GA Universal to GA4.

Does all of this seem very complicated or like a big mouthful – do not worry.

We can help you!

You do not have to worry at all about the practical and technical stuff. We can help you create a GA4 property that tracks correctly. We are constantly updated on the latest in relation to GA4, so we can help you in the best possible way.

What should you do?

Simply contact us here. Then we can talk about what the right solution is for you. In our work, we always keep in mind that every business and website / app needs various solutions, so we will always start by taking a look at your needs and customizing a solution to your business.

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