We’ve written a lot about Google Analytics in the past and how measurement is key to your marketing success. So, when Google launches a completely new platform for measuring your online activity it is big news.
The new Google Analytics GA4 platform is a completely new take and was launched in BETA early 2021. It’s good to note that it is a BETA and will not enjoy the features and integrations that Google’s very mature existing GA platforms enjoy and has limitations that may put it off-limits to some right now outside of a plaything.
What is GA4?
As the sophistication of online marketing, measurement and the demands of businesses to integrate all of this usage data have grown so to has Google’s measurement platform offerings.
Starting with the acquisition of Urchin in 2005, Google has grown it’s offering and evolved its web and app-based analytics mostly via the “Google Analytics” (for web properties) and “Firebase” (for apps) platforms. This was until in 2020 Google launched a new combined view in GA called “App+Web” which sought to combine the data and features of the other platforms into one.
On GA4 you will be able to view all device activity in one analytics property across platforms allowing for a more unified view of customer’s journey and the opportunity for businesses and marketing professionals to map and customise the customer journey. The biggest changes you’ll notice are:
- An entirely new interface (some similar bits to the web+app property)
- A new unified data model
- mobile, web & apps in one property
- New reporting capabilities inside the property
If you’ve used Google’s data studio before you’ll welcome some of the reporting functionality in the tool, but it’s unlikely to replace your data studio reporting when it comes to multichannel and stakeholder facing reports.
Here is Google’s walkthrough of the new interface:
Should I switch to Google Analytics 4?
In short, no. I would encourage you to run GA4 in parallel and start to familiarise yourself with it, but not to interrupt your workflows well established in Universal analytics for now. Running both properties at once will also allow you to compare the data that you are receiving in both and identify any issues and opportunities while the product matures and your familiarity grows.
Universal Analytics will continue to provide the data you need and GA4 runs on a different data model using different data points. This means the interface is different, you won’t find reports where they were and GA4 is still in BETA
How to set up a Google Analytics GA4 Property
Google recently posted a new video on Linkedin that walks you through the setup of GA4.
The progress Google is making to provide free and powerful analytics tools is excellent but be warned that it is early days and the existing “Universal Analytics” properties for web-based activity are excellent and enjoy more than a decade of integration development. Try setting up a new GA4 property and get ready for the future but don’t trust GA4 with all of your data just yet!