Have you taken the proper steps to prepare your company for the upcoming migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4? Google announced its newest Analytics update, GA4 in 2020 with plans to completely phase out UA by 2023. While that may have seemed far off when the announcement was made, the time for change is upon us. Marketers and Analysts must begin the preparation process before the inevitable switch.
what is ga4?
Google Analytics 4 is a digital analytics tool used to track data and performance across the internet. It is the fourth analytics platform Google has released. Its main purpose is to replace the Universal Analytics platform in order to unify multi-channel traffic and comply with more stringent privacy policies.
WHY THE SWITCH?
While Universal Analytics served the needs of feverish internet users adequately for the past ten years, the way we browse the internet is changing. In the past people primarily used desktop computers for website visits. In modern times, people utilize tablets, mobile phones, applications on smart appliances and virtual assistants, work computers, gaming consoles, and a growing list of wearables to browse and purchase online. The list goes on and on. Google Analytics 4 is designed to be able to track multi-channel user behavior in a way that makes sense for modern internet usage. It will give analysts a way to uncover a unified picture of buyer behavior, instead of relying on disparate and duplicated customer journeys often shared between independent devices.
It is also designed to coincide with growing privacy policies and the shift to a cookieless, digital world. With the ability to opt-out of tracking pixels and Google’s phasing out of 3rd-party cookies, it makes sense to build a new platform that no longer relies on these tools to understand buyer behavior.
New Features of ga4
There are a few fundamental differences between UA and GA4. Business users need to understand the distinctions between them in order to effectively leverage GA4. These include:
Events– GA4 uses an event-based tracking model. This means hit types previously reported disparately as page views, form submissions, transactions, etc. are now all reported as events. This event-based reporting model is designed to enable unified tracking through both web and app visits.
Sessions– in UA, a session is defined as “a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.” For example, a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and eCommerce transactions.
In GA4, sessions are only initiated through one user action, when a user opens your app or web page. Sessions are ended only after 30 mins of user inactivity. While this may seem like a minor change, it can have a significant impact on the way we analyze and interact with our data.
how to prepare for ga4
As previously mentioned, Universal Analytics will be completely phased out on July 1, 2023. Unfortunately, GA4 will not carry historical UA data across into your records. That is why it is important to make the switch as soon as possible, to keep as much historical data for reference. We recommend dually tagging your UA assets with GA4 tags and uploading it to data warehouses, daily, in order to preserve your valuable data.
GA4 has a different schema than UA. It utilizes event-based tracking. Before your tracking moves fully to GA4, you’ll want to set up custom events. Take all of the behaviors you’ve currently been tracking in UA, and go through them, step by step, to create events for each of them in GA4. This way you won’t have any gaps in your data when July hits.
While July may be out of sight and out of mind, it’s just around the corner. You should consider implementing GA4 training as soon as possible. This way your internal GA4 users will be ready to continue business processes when summer comes. GA4 has a longer learning curve than previous iterations, and you’ll want to avoid missteps and disgruntled clients.
cost of ga4
For most users, Google Analytics platforms can be used at no cost. However, there are paid options. There are two existing GA4 products: GA4 Standard and GA4 360. For most agencies and analysts GA4 Standard has sufficient capabilities. However, businesses that conduct very large and complex deployments may require GA4 360. These enterprise-level companies will have to purchase the new GA4 360 platform which is priced based on the volume of data processed.
The main difference between GA4 360 and UA 360 pricing models is correlated with the switch from hit-based pricing to event-based pricing. Instead of charging on hits per month, they will charge based on events per month.
Work with superior analysts
You aren’t alone if you need help with your UA to GA4 transition. Due to the more complex nature of the migration, many businesses are finding themselves behind in the preparation process. Consider partnering with a marketing or analytics agency to ease the stress of this impending transition.
At Fahrenheit, we employ the best and brightest marketing analysts. We can help you demystify the nuances of GA4, deploy your transition process, and better leverage GA4’s innovative functionalities. Reach out to our dedicated team of marketing and web development professionals today to schedule a consultation. We can help you better your business.