Google Analytics 4 Migration. Worth the Effort?

Google has announced the new, revamped version of Google Analytics (aka. GA4). The new version is with integral machine learning models, AI-based predictive data, and cross-device measurement capabilities. Any data-driven marketing team will soon start relying heavily on it. As Google Analytics 4 is the answer to increased challenges in data privacy and tracking user behavior in a cookie-free world.

This enhanced version of the tool has come with some exciting changes in all 3 important aspects of analytics:

  1. Collect & Measure with the event-based data model that can easily combine your app and web data addressing any internal silos or data management issues
  2. Analyze for insights with the machine learning capabilities embedded at the core of GA4 giving you access to predictive metrics & automated insights
  3. Insights activation through direct integrations with other platforms enabling unified audience export & conversion reporting

1. COLLECT & MEASURE

a. Flexible data collection

With GA4 you can now measure business performance with flexible data collection and measurement solutions. Some of the  key highlights include:
  • Tagging solutions to streamline implementation across web and app, including the new Consent Mode
  • Multiple privacy settings to meet user privacy requirements and regulations including control over data collection, retention, and removal
  • New event-based data model resulting in granular tracking options and  consistency across platforms & applications
  • Automatically collected events to get you started with commonly tracked actions that users take on your application

b. Unified analytics for deeper user journey insights

Analyzing your website and app data in one reporting environment, without manual effort is one of the key benefits of GA4.
  • Cross-platform gives you an overview of the complete user journey from start to end in a single reporting environment. This is possible without creating a separate user-id view
  • Data is now more accurate since it is based on first-party cookies & Google signals
  • Helps break down data silos and track the performance of cross-platform campaigns. This depicts user-centric behavior and conversions.

Below is an example of Cross-Device Path Conversion reporting in GA4

2. ANALYZE FOR INSIGHTS

a. Multiple analysis techniques for deeper and intelligent insights

Section ‘Explore’ of GA4 is available to all users, which gives access to data & analytical techniques that are not available in the standard reports.
  • Different charts like bar charts, pie charts, line charts are available in the free-form exploration reports. These result in easier access to data points and insights
  • Options to deep-dive with access to individual user activities and segment overlap with Cohort and Pathing exploration
  • Access to Predictive metrics like Purchase & Churn Probability that can be used with User Lifetime reports

Below is one example of Cohort reporting in GA4

b. Built-in analytics intelligence using machine learning

The new intelligence built with GA4 will surface deeper insights automatically.  There is no need to configure them explicitly.
  • Detects unusual changes or trends in data and sends an automated notification to users for taking actions
  • Looks for anomalies with the help of historical data over single or multiple metrics and/or segments
  • Is able to identify user segments contributing to the anomalous behavior
  • Automated attribution insights based on the attribution reports

Below is an example of ML-driven insights within the GA4 interface

c. Integrated data across devices and teams for effective business decisions

In organizations, data is usually spread across different teams, tools, and platforms. This makes it difficult for marketers or analysts to make effective business decisions. GA4 helps break down the data silos and unlock insights. 
  • Measurement Protocol for both web and app to capture data from offline systems like kiosk and POS
  • DV360 integration for standard Google Analytics 4 makes cross-channel reports & audiences more meaningful 
  • Youtube clicks and engaged views are now available as a part of the user journey. This gives access to Youtube campaign performance against all other channels

3. INSIGHTS ACTIVATION

a. BigQuery Linking for unsampled data

Users can now export all their raw data, and unsampled events to BigQuery to perform advanced analysis. In the previous versions, Google Analytics 360 was required. 
  • New streaming export that makes data available within seconds 
  • Raw-level combined data from the app and web can now open new activation opportunities. 
  • Generate high-value audience segments and perform advanced analyses with SQL-like query language 

b. Build Advanced Audiences for re/targeting 

With the possibility of directly exporting audiences to different media tools like Google Ads and DV360, Google Analytics already had an edge over other analytics tools. Now with GA4,  it is also possible to surface complex segmentation of users and target/retarget them expecting high-value performance.
  • Scope-based and sequential conditions based audiences are similar to Universal Analytics
  • Additionally, build time-windowed audiences for a metric condition to be true for a specific number of days
  • Static & dynamic evaluation for the condition to be true when users meet them else it is false

A screenshot from the audience builder feature in GA4

To ensure that your business has the most detailed, comprehensive, and accurate data for your business decisions, migrating to GA4 is a no-brainer. This will provide valuable insights,  bring you the latest advances in reporting, and will help you understand the significant changes. This would also enable you to understand how your users are engaging with your business based on devices, platforms, and content. Here is a detailed infographic mapping between UA and GA4 features for your reference.
Even if you decide not to actively use Google Analytics 4 right now, creating a GA4 property in parallel will have you collect enough historical data by the time Google Analytics 4 evolves further and you are completely ready to switch. However, any new GA account will only be starting with GA4. Even for existing users, eventually, the existing property will be deprecated and removed.
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