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GA4: how to get ready for the next generation of Google Analytics

By Federico D'Uva | Lead marketing strategist



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August 10, 2022 | 5 min read

Google's recently-released updated edition of Google Analytics – Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is defined as a paradigm shift in its data collection and web traffic analysis software. Federico D'Uva, lead marketing strategist at Rawnet suggests how marketers can embrace these changes.

Rawnet on how marketers can embrace changes to Google Analytics. Image: Myriam Jessier/Unsplash

Rawnet on how marketers can embrace changes to Google Analytics. Image: Myriam Jessier/Unsplash

Google’s analytical tool is used globally by organizations to track visitor engagement across web domains, mobile apps, and offline APIs. Companies use it to track their web traffic, monitor marketing channels, and measure key performance indicators.

Now, GA4 is offering a new model with fundamental features that are much-changed from the old Universal Analytics (UA).

The deployment of GA4 and the need for updated analytical software is largely due to new privacy protection legislation. The increasing significance of privacy will make it progressively more challenging to collect users’ information.

Google describes GA4 as a "next-generation approach to privacy-first tracking, x-channel measurement, and AI-based predictive data". By implementing Google’s advanced machine learning model, GA4 is able to accumulate data for website traffic and user behavior without relying on hits from each page.

Switching to event-based tracking exclusively is advantageous in an online-centric landscape going cookie-less. GA4’s primary objective is to focus the user journey across sites from first visit to final conversion. It also aids organizations in understanding their customer base, and while it might not be completely cookieless yet, Google is currently modeling without cookies.

Out with the old in with the new

The new GA4 offers new key features that make it significantly different from the older Universal version in terms of architecture, user interface, navigation, reporting and metrics.

One key difference is the update in data modeling that uses artificial technology to fill the gaps in data, traditionally blocked by cookie-consent rules applied by Universal Analytics, blocked JavaScript and the rising importance of privacy.

GA4 will reduce the reliance on cookies to track data by using machine learning to provide predictive metrics such as purchase and churn probability, and revenue predictions. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 only stores data for up to 14 months; it only starts tracking data once you have upgraded to the new module.

Next-level marketing

GA4 aims to take marketing efforts into sixth gear.

The machine learning feature of GA4 is one of the best features for marketers. The software will look to accrue data and learn from it, helping marketers to understand which target audiences are most likely to convert based on past trends and journeys, with real-time behavior monitoring capabilities.

GA4 also offers identity spaces that allow marketers to identify customers without the use of cookies. Identity spaces enable marketers to understand how users are moving through touchpoints.

GA4 also helps marketers visualize how users are moving through their sales funnel, providing confidence in knowing exactly where and how to attribute each piece of digital marketing content sent out.

The bespoke experience offered by the codeless tracking of events ensures that marketers can sit back and watch what's happening as it happens. Perfect to determine how customers navigate the brand digitally, GA4 is capable of identifying users' interaction on websites and apps. Whether this is loading a page, clicking a link to purchase or completing a sale, marketers now have visibility of the customer journey.

GA4 enables teams to predict the browsing habits of prospective customers and provide them with richer data pools to work from. The switch to this AI-driven module will take some time to get used to. Marketers are encouraged to start using the software sooner, rather than later. The more data the tool can collect, the stronger its predictive power is – and the stronger organizations’ marketing will be.

Building a unified customer narrative

GA4 is a customer-focused tool. It places much more emphasis on tracking users, rather than user sessions. A consumer can engage with various touch points on an organization’s site, mobile app, and across various platforms, enabling businesses to accumulate activity to build a more detailed and consistent user journey.

According to a study, consumers expect online data sharing to be respected, while desiring a seamless omnichannel digital experience. GA4’s capability to collect, analyze and activate user data is a primary driver to delivering a flawless customer journey. Consumers will be more inclined to engage with brands that are focused on delivering more relevant and personalized digital experiences.

Google’s latest version is the future of analytics. The new GA4 module reflects the way in which consumers engage with brands. Placing customers first and privacy of data has never been more important.

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Rawnet is a digital agency that defines, designs, delivers and drives strategic products and services that create a long-term positive impact.

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