The traditional methods of data collection are changing for businesses, and are doing so quickly. Regulatory changes like GDPR and CCPA have impacted how businesses handle the end user’s privacy, browser updates are impacting data collection, and end users are demanding more transparency and control over their own data. At the same time, businesses are investing time and money in big data and analytics to offer products/services to their customers more effectively and measure their own performance more efficiently.
With this in mind, Google Analytics has released a new version of their tracking code, which is called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). You will need to upgrade your website with the new code. If you use Google Tag Manager (GTM), you will just need to input the GA4 Measurement ID and set up a trigger.
You don’t have to remove your existing Universal Analytics (UA) code now. In fact, it is recommended to have both installed at the same time for a few months. Having both means you can start using the new data but start phasing out the old.
The longer you wait to install GA4, the less data you will have when you actually need it. So even if you don’t plan on using the features of GA4 now, installing it today will help you in the future.
Enhanced Measurements enables you to learn more about what actions your users take on your website without having to set anything up. There are a number of measurements that are on by default, such as when someone scrolls to the bottom of the page, when someone clicks to download media, or what links people click to leave your site. Check out what measurements are available to web apps.
In theory, all of the existing Enhanced Measurements are features that are available to you if you currently use Google Tag Manager. However, you would need to set all these up in GTM. With GA4, no setup is required.
Analysis Hub allows you to create a visual representation of data points that you care about. Think of it as a mini Google Data Studio and an upgraded Custom Reports that are available in UA. There are a few templates already created that allow you to see things like Funnel or Path Analysis without making your own template.
Artificial intelligence is built-in. By using Insights, you can type in your analytics question and have it immediately answered. For instance, “How many Internet Explorer users?”
Events have changed. With UA, events are a fixed structure. You have Category, Action, and Label that you could fit data points into. With GA4, it is more flexible. You are allowed 25 custom parameters to send with each event.
“In Universal Analytics (UA) properties, an event is a special kind of hit (distinct from, for example, a pageview) that has a Category, Action, and Label. By contrast, in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties, everything (including a pageview) is an event. GA4 events have no notion of Category, Action, and Label and, unlike in UA properties, GA4 reports do not display Category, Action, and Label.”