One of the most exciting parts about Google is that they are always improving their offerings, and GA4 is no exception. This new Google Analytics platform has several new features that provide more significant insights and allow you to report on more data in greater detail.
In this post, Blend Commerce will look at what GA4 is, the differences between it and the previous version, and all you need to know about changing to Google Analytics 4.
What is GA4?
GA4, or Google Analytics 4, is, as the name suggests, the fourth analytics platform that Google has proffered. It takes the place of Google Analytics 3, which was also called Universal Analytics.
This newest platform has a number of distinct advantages over its predecessors and is well equipped for the future. Some of its best new features and capabilities include:
- Can track a website and an app in the same account
- Uses machine learning to gain insights on customer activity across devices and platforms
- Improved integrations with Google's advertising platforms to optimise campaign performance and drive greater marketing ROI
In other words, this analytical platform is designed to be durable in the changing Google landscape, while integrating your marketing efforts.
When does Universal Google Analytics get discontinued?
As Google is careful not to inconvenience sites too much, the process of discontinuation is slow and steady. From July 1st, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You will still be able to see your reports for a short period of time after this point. Still, new data will only be added to Google Analytics 4 properties, making Universal Analytics redundant.
If you have a Google Analytics 360 property, you will have a one-time processing extension, which will end in October 2023. After this point, GA3 will become obsolete, and GA4 will be the only legitimate option available.
It is also important to note that while GA3 is still available for use until the dates mentioned above, Google will no longer release new features on Universal Analytics. This is because they want everyone to move over to the new platform as quickly as possible. It will therefore be worthwhile to get ahead of the curve and change over to GA4 sooner rather than later.
Does GA4 offer the same data as Universal Analytics?
GA4 has different data architecture (the way data is processed and stored) than GA3, and has a number of different offerings. You’ll quickly notice, if you were using GA3 before, that there are many changes in the way that it looks and how the navigation works. However, the new platform is intuitive and won’t take long to grasp.
There are three main differences where you may find the new platform somewhat lacking. These include:
- The bounce rate has been replaced: In GA4, Google replaced the bounce rate with a new metric called “engaged sessions”. Instead of reporting on the percentage of people who leave without engaging on your site, you’ll see data on those who did. This shifts the focus to engagement and activity.
- GA4 does not have your historical data: When moving over to the GA4 platform, you will start with a clean slate. While your data will remain visible on your Universal Analytics property, it will not move over to the new property.
Goals have been replaced with events: Google Analytics will now only track events and conversions. However, most of the functionality of goals is still present, as you can choose which events count as a conversion, while it automatically tracks others. Goals are therefore now redundant on GA4.
Will GA4 be free?
Yes, there is a free GA4 subscription option. While there is also a paid option in which you can unlock further features, the free model comes with a number of features that were only available on the paid 360 version of GA3. So those who have been deliberating whether or not to bump up to Google Analytics 360 will be pleased to find that GA4 has those premium features for free.