Start analyzing your website data with GA4
In July 2019, Google launched the beta version of Google Analytics App + Web Property. As of October, the final version is called Google Analytics 4. This advanced version will allow tracking without cookies (cookieless-tracking) and will no longer limit measurements of a user’s interactions to page views only. There are also new visualization options for the data that were previously unavailable.
At the moment, both versions, i.e., Google Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 are still running side by side. As of 1 July 2023, however, no new data will be processed in Universal Analytics (official Google notice). In this piece, you will learn about the most critical changes and what you need to do to continue analyzing user data with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics 4: the key advantages!
More GDPR-friendly tracking
One of the most significant advantages of using Google Analytics 4 is definitely the more privacy-compliant tracking, although personal data (unique user IDs) can still be collected and processed outside of the EU. The options for data control are much more diverse than with Universal Analytics. The most significant innovations are:
- Consent or refusal of the data processing conditions
- Settings for data retention
- Settings for Google data sharing
- Ad personalization settings at property level
- Data deletion request for selected time periods
- Collecting data also works without cookies and other identifiers
- IP address is neither logged nor stored
More data from events
Google Analytics 4 works with events, which means that it is possible to measure specific interactions on your site or app. This might be a page view or a click on a link, for example. It could also be a sales transaction or a video playback.
After a short adjustment period, you will notice that Google Analytics 4 is much more intuitive and easier to use! It also offers some new and improved features:
- The new data model produces more relevant and better visualized analyses. So, you can now view the data in funnel visualizations, pivot tables, or scatter plots.
- Google services, such as Google Ads or Campaign Manager are more closely connected to Google Analytics 4 and their data is synchronized with each other.
- With BigQuery you have the ability to export data to Google’s data warehouse.
Accurate forecasting thanks to machine learning
By using machine learning technologies, Google Analytics 4 will be able to make predictions from the data it collects. At the moment, the following forecast values are available:
- Purchase probability
- Churn probability
- Revenue forecast
If you wish to continue evaluating data via the Google tool in the future, then a switch to Google Analytics 4 is inevitable. From July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer provide data.
Can I use Google Analytics right now?
Yes! But it’s probably going to take a few more months before Google Analytics 4 is available in its entirety and free of bugs. For this reason, we would advise you to familiarize yourself with the new functions now, but to continue to use Universal Analytics for data analysis.
Why are the data from Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 not identical?
This is due to the data models used, so differences in the data should be expected.
Is Google Analytics 4 GDPR compliant?
Despite the privacy-friendly features mentioned above, Google Analytics 4 still has not been able to reach a definitive resolution with European data protection authorities. At the moment, Google does not protect EU citizens’ data from US surveillance laws, as even Google Analytics 4 cannot guarantee data storage within the EU.
What are the alternatives to Google Analytics 4?
There are a variety of free and paid alternatives to Google Analytics. . Here are some tools that have similar features to Google Analytics, but are much stricter in terms of data protection and meet the EU standard.
If comparative data from a previous period is a big priority for your marketing activities, then making sure to set up Google Analytics 4 is something you should consider doing quickly. If you are prepared to do without the comparative data, it would be fine to make the switch in July 2023.
codafish is your partner for all questions around digitalization and we also support you in the setup of your tracking projects. Let our experts advise you and start planning your switch to Google Analytics 4, Piwik PRO, Matomo or Zoho PageSense with us!