The date to migrate over to GA4 is coming up fast, 1st July 2023, its imperative that advertisers start the process to ensure not only that the migration is done correctly, but also to ensure there is time for data checks, and to make sure that if you are doing any Google advertising, there is enough data to continue using conversion-based bidding strategies. Below outlines tips and things to consider either before you migrate, or to ensure is place after migrating over.
Looking for advice and tips on moving to GA4? Discover the smoothest transition strategies and unlock the power of Google GA4 for comprehensive analytics.
What is GA4?
Google GA4, also known as Google Analytics 4, is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It was officially launched in October 2020 and is designed to provide a more comprehensive and future-focused approach to tracking and analysing user behavior across websites and apps. It is not just a new tracking solution, but a completely new platform!
Here are some key features and changes introduced in Google GA4
- Event-based data model: GA4 utilises an event-based data model instead of the traditional pageview-based model used in previous versions. This means that GA4 focuses on tracking user interactions as events, allowing for more flexibility in capturing user actions and behaviors.
- Enhanced cross-platform tracking: GA4 is designed to track user interactions across various platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and offline data sources. It provides a more unified view of user behavior across multiple touchpoints, helping businesses gain insights into the customer journey.
- Machine learning and predictive insights: Google has integrated machine learning capabilities into GA4, enabling it to automatically analyse data and provide predictive insights. This includes features like automated insights, predictive metrics, and anomaly detection, which help businesses understand trends, identify opportunities, and optimise their marketing strategies.
- Deeper integration with Google Ads and other Google products: GA4 offers improved integration with Google Ads, making it easier to measure and optimise campaign performance. It also integrates with other Google products like Google Tag Manager and Google BigQuery, allowing for more advanced data collection and analysis.
- Focus on privacy and consent: GA4 includes enhanced privacy features to comply with evolving privacy regulations and user expectations. It provides tools to manage data consent and user preferences, allowing businesses to respect user privacy while still collecting valuable insights.
- Simplified reporting and analysis: GA4 introduces a more streamlined and intuitive interface for reporting and analysis. It offers preconfigured reports and has a more user-friendly interface compared to previous versions, making it easier for businesses to access and interpret their data.
It’s important to note that while GA4 brings many new features and improvements, it also represents a departure from the previous Universal Analytics platform. Businesses transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4 may require adjustments to their tracking implementation and reporting practices.
Overall, Google GA4 aims to provide businesses with a more comprehensive and future-proof analytics solution, enabling them to gain deeper insights into user behavior, optimise marketing efforts, and deliver better user experiences across multiple platforms.
What are the key differences between GA4 and Google UA (Universal Analytics?
The key differences between Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Universal Analytics are as follows
- Data Model: GA4 utilises an event-based data model, whereas Universal Analytics uses a session-based model. In GA4, user interactions are tracked as individual events, providing more flexibility in capturing and analysing specific actions. This allows for a more granular understanding of user behavior across multiple touchpoints.
- Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 is designed to track user interactions across various platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and offline data sources. It provides a more comprehensive view of the customer journey across multiple touchpoints. Universal Analytics primarily focuses on tracking web interactions.
- Machine Learning and Predictive Insights: GA4 incorporates machine learning capabilities to provide predictive insights and automated analysis. It offers features like automated insights, predictive metrics, and anomaly detection, which can help businesses identify trends and optimise their marketing strategies. Universal Analytics does not have built-in machine learning features.
- Integration with Google Ads: GA4 offers improved integration with Google Ads, making it easier to measure and optimise campaign performance. It provides a more seamless connection between analytics and advertising data. Universal Analytics also has integration with Google Ads but does not provide the same level of deep integration as GA4.
- User Privacy and Consent: GA4 places a stronger emphasis on user privacy and data consent management. It provides tools to manage data consent and user preferences, helping businesses comply with privacy regulations and respect user choices. Universal Analytics has fewer built-in privacy features.
- Reporting and User Interface: GA4 introduces a more streamlined and user-friendly interface compared to Universal Analytics. It offers preconfigured reports and simplified analysis tools. However, GA4’s reporting capabilities may not be as extensive as those of Universal Analytics at present, as GA4 is still evolving.
- Transition and Compatibility: GA4 represents a significant departure from Universal Analytics, requiring businesses to implement GA4 separately from their existing Universal Analytics setup. While it’s possible to run both versions concurrently, GA4 requires a new implementation and tracking setup. The data and reports from Universal Analytics cannot be directly migrated to GA4.
It’s important to note that GA4 is considered the future of Google Analytics, and Google has been actively encouraging businesses to transition to GA4. While Universal Analytics is still supported, new features and enhancements are expected to be rolled out primarily for GA4.
What are the difficulties in moving from Google Universal Analytics to GA4?
Are there any specific technical challenges?
Moving from Google Universal Analytics to GA4 can involve some challenges and technical considerations. Here are a few difficulties you may encounter during the transition:
- Data and Reporting Differences: GA4 uses a different data model and has a different reporting interface compared to Universal Analytics. This means that the way data is collected, organised, and reported will differ. You may need to adjust your reporting processes and train your team on the new interface and terminology.
- Customisation and Configuration: If you have heavily customised your Universal Analytics implementation, such as custom dimensions, metrics, or events, you will need to update and migrate those customisations to GA4. The implementation and configuration process may require additional development work and careful consideration to ensure data consistency.
- Tracking Code Implementation: GA4 requires a new tracking code implementation compared to Universal Analytics. This means updating your website or app’s tracking code to include the GA4 code snippet. You will need to ensure that the implementation is accurate and correctly captures the desired events and interactions.
- Event-based Tracking: GA4’s event-based tracking model is different from the pageview-based model used in Universal Analytics. This shift may require you to reconsider your tracking strategy and update your measurement plan to capture the relevant events and actions that align with your business goals.
- Custom Integrations and Third-Party Tools: If you have integrated Universal Analytics with other third-party tools or platforms, such as marketing automation systems or data warehouses, you will need to assess the compatibility and update those integrations to work with GA4. Some tools may not yet have built-in support for GA4, which could pose challenges in data integration.
- Historical Data and Cross-Domain Tracking: GA4 does not offer a direct migration path for historical data from Universal Analytics. If historical data is crucial for your analysis and reporting, you may need to consider strategies to preserve and merge the data from both GA4 and Universal Analytics. Additionally, if you have cross-domain tracking implemented in Universal Analytics, you will need to adjust and reconfigure it for GA4.
- Learning Curve and Training: Moving to a new analytics platform like GA4 requires your team to learn and adapt to the new features, data model, and reporting interface. Training and familiarisation with GA4 may be necessary to ensure that your team can effectively utilize the platform and extract valuable insights.
It’s recommended to carefully plan and strategise the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4, considering the specific technical challenges and business requirements of your organisation. Google provides documentation and resources to assist with the migration process, and it may be beneficial to consult with experts or reach out to Google support for guidance.
Analytic migration checklist
- Review and document current tracking implementation: Understand the existing tracking setup, including event tracking, custom dimensions, and integrations, to ensure a smooth migration process.
- Evaluate compatibility and data mapping: Assess the compatibility of the new tracking software with your website or app. Determine how data from the old system maps to the new one to ensure data continuity and accuracy.
- Implement the new tracking code correctly: Follow the documentation provided by the new tracking software to implement the tracking code accurately on all relevant pages or screens. Test thoroughly to ensure proper data collection.
- Configure goals and events: Identify the key goals and events you want to track in the new system. Set up the necessary configurations, such as conversion tracking, funnels, and custom events, to align with your analytics objectives.
- Validate and compare data: After the migration, validate the data by comparing it to the old tracking system. Ensure that the new system captures data consistently and provides the expected results. Resolve any discrepancies and make adjustments as needed.
Remember, the checklist may vary depending on the specific tracking software and requirements of your project. It’s essential to thoroughly understand the documentation and guidelines provided by the new tracking software and consult with experts if needed.