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Google Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

3 reasons why making the switch to GA4 is better for brand, better for business

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By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

June 6, 2023 | 7 min read

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If the goal is to be future-proof, then upgrading your technology suite with a privacy-first future in mind is the way forward. Google’s Alice Crawley shares the key benefits of switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) ahead of the July 1 sunset of Universal Analytics.

 why making the switch to GA4 is better for brand, better for business

Why making the switch to GA4 is better for brand, better for business

Today’s digital environment looks very different to the one we knew 10 years ago. The proliferation of channels, a renewed focus on user privacy and the need for advertisers to be able to connect the dots across all the different touch points customers use, mean that some of the tried and trusted tools that advertisers have relied on in the past just won’t cut it anymore.

With an increased desire for actionable, privacy-safe customer insights and measurement tools comes the need for technology to evolve too - to be able to identify new audiences, reach them at the right moment and measure what’s working, all while respecting their need for data privacy. That’s why, come July 1 this year, Google will replace Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - which has been built from scratch with this future in mind.

“Universal Analytics was built a long time ago for a different digital environment to the one that we’re in today,” explains Alice Crawley, Google Analytics specialist at Google. “But old technology can’t always fulfil the needs of today’s customers. That’s why we’ve been rebuilding Google Analytics from scratch, with the future and privacy in mind. New controls and functionality is all built into GA4 and it’s the only way forward for customers to carry on using it.”

Doing more with less

With more data and data signals than ever before, advertisers and agencies need technology to handle the heavy lift, freeing up more time to be creative with the data. The benefit of sophisticated analytics tools like GA4 is that, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) these insights can be actioned at scale.

“With greater sophistication and AI capabilities than Universal Analytics, GA4 enables advertisers to do more with less - and do more intelligent things with the high quality data that feeds it,” says Crawley. “After all, machines are only as good as the data inputs that power them - and this one is pretty good at reading data and doing smart things with it. That’s true for customers of all sizes, regardless of the volume of data they have.”

There’s scale, there’s intelligence, there’s AI - but how can a tool like GA4 help brands and agencies be a better marketer through responsible marketing with an eye on the future?

Private by design

First and foremost, GA4 has been built with privacy in mind. With more levers giving advertisers control of the level of granularity of data they collect and the ability to toggle this by region, the integration offers more sophisticated ways of using consented customer first-party data, with robust insights and media activation capabilities enabled via Google Signals for users who have opted in to ads personalization.

With regards to measurement, GA4 has a new integration with Consent Mode. This means that advertisers can still model the onsite behavior of users who do not consent to (1st party measurement) cookies being set, based on how consented users have interacted on site - giving marketers the ability to understand in total across consented and unconsented users which products have been viewed, which traffic sources people are coming through, and what content pages they’ve seen - all without the use of cookies which fills a much-needed gap.

With regards to audience building, Google Analytics 4 will in the future integrate with the Privacy Sandbox.

“In light of anticipated third party cookie deprecation, GA4 significantly improves the level of measurement and is able to do so in a privacy-centric way when people haven’t consented, filling a much-needed gap,” explains Crawley.

Powered by AI

With more AI-powered functionalities, GA4 allows advertisers to gain greater visibility of the insights that really matter. A key development is the introduction of an AI prompt feature which flags useful information in the analytics interface to inform future strategy. For example, an increase in traffic from a referral or a drop in purchases from paid search.

“Rather than somebody having to dig around in all of the data, and do their own analysis all the time, the AI is able to surface things of interest to the analyst or the users, without them having to search around,” says Crawley. “The benefit of that is that it gives them ideas to look into more by surfacing things that might otherwise be buried in all of their reports. There’s a richer dataset behind the AI and it’s much more visible to the users.”

The predictive audiences feature takes away the fear of the unknown by being able to predict what might come next. GA4 is able to look at the data and the behavior of users who convert to predict who else is likely to transact, likely to churn or likely to spend a certain amount of revenue in the next month, which can then be used to inform advertising. By identifying cohorts most likely to purchase, advertisers are able to adapt messaging.

“It allows our customers to speak to their customers in a different way, knowing that these people are more or less likely to purchase or churn,” adds Crawley. “This is just purchases at the moment, but in the future it will take into account other conversion types as well.”

One major UK retailer has benefited from using predictive audiences in GA4 to identify its most valuable potential customers to incorporate into an ongoing remarketing plan. Not only has it created significant time savings by removing the manual work of creating rules and new audience lists, but has seen conversion rates with GA4 predictive audiences massively outperform some of its traditional audience targeting tactics - resulting in a 9.12% lower CPA, 22.2% higher conversion rate, and 17.3% more post-click sales.

Saving time, maximizing revenue

With bigger datasets, more automation and measurement opportunities, by letting the tools handle the basics, there’s a time saving benefit for advertisers too - giving them more flexibility to focus on more advanced things that will make a difference.

“Instinctively you might think that implementing any new tool will require a heavy internal lift, but the beauty of GA4 is that it’s easy to implement in the first place,” says Crawley. “Depending on your existing set up it may not need any development resource to implement, but it does require kickstarting the migration to GA4 now to ensure you don’t risk losing access to your analytics data.”

The sunset of Universal Analytics is July 1, 2023. To find out more about the steps your team needs to take to switch to Google Analytics 4 now, click here.

Google Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

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