Google Analytics 4 Explained

Every day thousands of businesses large or small rely on Google Analytics to help them understand consumer behaviour and to create better experiences on their platform. With more businesses now online than ever, data from these platforms can make a huge impact on the ROI for your business. 

For those of you who have been using Google Analytics on a daily basis over the last few years, you may be familiar with Google Analytics 4. But for those of you who are only starting with Google Analytics and are still learning about the current system, let us break it down for you.  

google analytics 4

In 2020 Google made an announcement that they will be updating their current systems. Why? Well, as consumer behaviours continued to shift, the current approach was not keeping up to speed and existing solutions were not giving marketers a complete view of consumer insights from their data. It was becoming increasingly difficult to track users across multiple devices and apps.

Further to this, new privacy protection laws such as GDPR have forced the move.

Instead of Universal Analytics (the current version of Google Analytics) – which will cease processing new data in July 2023 – Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will become Google’s new web analytics dashboard. 

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is Google’s next-generation web analytics platform. A tracking tool that provides valuable insights into how your website and app are being used. It is about focusing on the entire lifecycle journey of the customer, approaching it with ‘privacy-first’ tracking, x-channel measurement, and AI-based learnings all at once. 

Instead of relying on “hits” from every page, the new Analytics can fill up data for website traffic and user behaviour using Google’s cutting-edge machine learning algorithms.


What are the key features of GA4? What are the differences?

A streamlined user interface

With any platform when an update happens, the user interface can often be the biggest struggle as we try to get our bearings again. Unfortunately, for marketers and businesses, this is the same again for Google Analytics. Don’t expect the same features or old default reports. There is a new section called ‘Lifecycle’ that is simply tracking a customer through a marketing funnel. It includes four sections: Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention. 

However, take it from us, once you find your feet it is a smooth experience. But, Google does offer support and training to help guide you through the process. 

GA4 is all about ‘events’

Previously, we used session-based models, but GA4 is now centered on the user and events. For marketers, this has significant advantages because it offers cross-platform analysis and improved pathing analysis. Additionally, GA4 is more adaptable and better equipped to predict user behaviour.

We will see a much more in-depth analysis of the user’s behaviour from the page scroll to button clicks. 

The ability to collect data from non-web platforms such as apps and IoT devices

A feature to measure app and web integrations simultaneously is one of the important upgrades that users have been seeking in Google Analytics.

You can specifically view in-app and online conversions for Google Ads, YouTube Ads, other non-Google paid channels like Facebook, and organic channels like search, social, and email thanks to the connection. Regardless of the acquisition channel, this mobile and app data connection makes it easier to measure the entire impact of all your marketing spending.

Enhanced data modeling and machine learning capabilities

Google Analytics 4 has a new data modeling feature that uses AI to fill in gaps in data where traditional Analytics may be blocked by cookie-consent rules, blocked JavaScript, and a focus on privacy. Making for cookieless permissions. 

Along with this, there will be a section on the landing page that offers insights and recommendations on how to better improve the data collected with the use of AI. 

How to migrate to Google Analytics 4

Since you already have a Universal Analytics account set up, the GA4 assistant will add a Google Analytics 4 property alongside your existing Universal Analytics property. Both will collect data. 

For further support on migration check out this guide by Google to answer any questions. 

google analytics 4

How to set up Google Analytics 4 

If you are setting up a new property – by default you will be using GA4. The first step would be to set up an Analytics account. 

Once an account has been made, the next step is to add a property. For further information, you can follow the step-by-step guide Google has created. 

If you would like a helping hand, get in touch with us at SEO & Grow