Since its launch in 2005, Google Analytics has long been a reliable tool for marketers and business owners alike to track and measure the success of their promotional efforts. As with any tool in the digital space, the software has morphed to offer higher-quality tracking and analytics for the next couple of years.
And as the recent announcement from Google shows, this evolution isn’t stopping any time soon. Google is officially ending Universal Analytics, the previous generation of Analytics that served as the default for websites before October 2020.
On July 1, 2023, and beyond, Universal Analytics will stop processing new data. So what will serve as a replacement for Universal Analytics moving forward?
Introducing Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google’s newest measurement platform for Analytics. This software is designed to provide marketers with valuable insights about their target consumers, their behavior, and other key metrics across countless websites and apps.
Unlike the previous Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 utilizes a unique approach to data collection. If you’ve already gotten the hang of Universal Analytics, you may be groaning at the idea of having to learn the ropes of analyzing data in a new way.
However, learning how to navigate GA4 and its advanced features can help you gain a competitive edge in the digital marketing space.
Read on to learn more about GA4 and how you can take advantage of its benefits.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the updated version of Google Analytics. Launch in October 2020, it’s the current default when you create a new property on the platform.
With its advanced capabilities, GA4 provides marketers with a powerful look into their customer’s journeys through numerous websites, apps, and devices. It no longer works as just a tool for reporting campaign results; it’s a software tool that analyzes and measures conversions.
Like other digital softwares, GA4 inches closer to digital innovation. It utilizes the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to collect data and deliver reliable insights that drive growth—a feature that is necessary with the newer changes in privacy policies.
Why is Google Analytics changing to GA4?
One huge factor for Google’s transition to GA4 is the ever-changing privacy and data policies that were implemented in the past few years. Consumers have also expressed concern over the use of their data for marketing reasons, leading to stricter regulations.
As such, Google adapted to these changes by developing newer standards in data collection and tracking so that it worked in compliance with legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Along with data protection and privacy, consumer behavior has also shifted, becoming more reliant on multiple devices and platforms.
Google Analytics 4 is the perfect response to these behavior shifts since it provides a holistic, white-glove approach to reporting data. This means marketers are able to derive valuable insights without the need for cookies.
So, with all of this in mind, what exactly does this mean for the future of marketing?
How does GA4 benefit marketing?
Although GA4 was introduced two years ago, it is still new territory for many marketers. Learning how to use the software sounds overwhelming but it’s worth reaping the benefits that come with it.
Below are a few ways GA4 can boost your digital marketing efforts to the next level:
Emphasis on the customer journey.
Google Analytics 4 collects and derives insights from all platforms, apps, and devices across the web. This provides you with an integrated view of your customer’s journey—that is, from the start of their interactions with your business to the end.
You’ll have a clearer picture of your digital marketing efforts’ performance and their impact on your target consumers.
GA4 also uses its AI feature to help you predict revenue from each target segment so that you can prioritize the customers with the highest value for your business.
Better data predictions.
The digital marketing space never slows down for any business to catch up. Now more than ever, marketers need to pick up on emerging trends and adjust their campaigns to meet the needs of their customers.
GA4 provides alerts on new data trends, giving you the chance to focus on potential opportunities or demands and move in the right direction.
The software’s AI tool also allows you to calculate possible future trends so that you can create strategies that reel customers back in.
Focus on privacy.
With the elimination of cookies and other identifiers, marketers will run into problems with gaps in their data. GA4 solves this problem by utilizing AI that adapts to the updates in privacy policies.
The software’s advanced features allow it to bridge gaps as data and cookie consent rules are updated, providing you with well-rounded insights about your target consumers.
Smoother integration with Google Ads.
GA4 offers marketers a smoother, easier integration with Google ads, allowing you to tweak your targeting methods and campaigns across each channel. This makes it easier to fine-tune the customer experience.
Most customers experience ad fatigue on a regular basis. In fact, 91% of customers believe ads are more intrusive now than in the past.
With GA4, you are more likely to target customers who care about your products and services so your ad dollars won’t go to waste.
New conversions feature for YouTube.
While Google is the largest search engine, it also owns the second largest search engine, YouTube. With over 5 billion hours of video watched daily, YouTube serves as a fantastic marketing tool for raising brand awareness and engaging with target consumers online.
As part of Google’s attempt to increase its value for marketing purposes, GA4 has advanced features that make for easier integration between Google Analytics and YouTube.
Previously, a user needed to click on your website link from a video for it to count as a conversion on YouTube. However, most users watch videos on the platform without clicking on any external links, leading to a loss of attribution from YouTube.
GA4’s solution is to provide view-through conversions from YouTube. This allows marketers to view and measure video views and how they contribute to overall revenue.
GA4 is an advanced leap in the evolution of Google Analytics. As a significant update from its previous iteration, Google Analytics 4 is a positive and powerful change in marketing communications and interactions.
The launch of GA4 demonstrates a shift in the way target audiences engages with the different brand throughout multiple channels, platforms, devices, and customer journey stages.
It’s important to remember that GA4’s UI is different from the previous Google Analytics platform. The data elements and definitions aren’t the same so you must take time to navigate through GA4 so that you can make the most of your marketing dollars.
Read our blog, Why Analyzing Customer Experience is Important (And How To Do It) to learn how to create a seamless experience for your customers when they interact with your brand.