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Google Analytics 4: An Introduction

Brand Strategy, Google, Industry Updates, Marketing Strategy, News & Events
May 12, 2022
Mason Interactive

The 4th generation of Google Analytics is already out, and there’s finally a hard deadline for when you have to completely transition over–July 1, 2023. This post will cover what’s new about GA4 and why you should be thinking about it now.

Analytics that Respects User Privacy

We know that consumers are shopping and engaging online more than ever before following the pandemic. As a result, investing in data & analytics is key to understanding customers and reaching new prospects.

As regulators and platforms evolve how consumer data can be used, people are now able to control/restrict how their data gets used for ad targeting. These are the conditions that have called for a new approach to analytics.

TLDR: GA4 is Google’s answer to a privacy-centered digital landscape.

Why does this matter?

GA4 achieves the same goal as its predecessors, albeit in a different way. 

In our experience, clients like to optimize around metrics like click-through and bounce rates. In GA4, we’ll be thinking more about engaged users vs non-engaged users. Previously, if a user spent 30 seconds on your website and left without clicking anything, that may have been looked at as a bad thing. GA4 will consider a 30 second session an important event to track, even if that user doesn’t click anything. 

GA4 uses machine learning to automatically generate insights from brand data to improve marketing. This replaces the modeled style of tracking from previous generations of GA. See our guide on Enhanced Conversion Tracking to understand this better.

This new generation of GA is meant to be future-proof. It will work with or without cookies so you will still be able to learn about customers even with the identifier gaps that cookies once filled–though you should still be collecting first party data.

New Features

Event editing & synthesis – you can now edit & fine-tune events logged in GA4 within the UI, without writing or adjusting code

Data Import – Track events happening outside of your website/app by sending data directly to GA4. PLUS you can import additional data & signals

Cross-Domain Measurement – Track a user’s journey across domains within the GA4 UI without writing code. You can also use templated reporting to better understand ecommerce funnels.
Migration & onboarding tools – Google understands that most people don’t like change, so they’ve made it incredibly easy to get started with a new GA4 property. There’s a getting started wizard for setup in a few clicks, and you can simultaneously collect data in both UA & GA4. This is called dual set up.

Why You Should Get Started NOW

Simply put, if you want to have QoQ or YoY data the same day that Universal Analytics is out, you’ll want to move over to GA4 ASAP.

There is no way to simply migrate an audience from UA to GA4; it has to be collected by the Google Analytics 4 tracking code. The sooner the GA4 tracking code (and maybe even some basic events and parameters) are configured, the sooner those audiences can grow and be used to support your advertising efforts. 

This isn’t a small task, which is why Google recommends getting started with dual-setup. Tagging all of your pages with both Universal Analytics and GA4 will allow you to continue to benefit from Universal Analytics while beginning to collect data in your GA4 properties. 

If you want to get a head start on your competitors and be ready when cookies is phased out in 2023, Mason Interactive can help you strategize around this.

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