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Google Analytics 4: What you need to know about the future of analytics?

by Otilia Crizbasan

July 7, 2022

We're now less than twelve months away from the retirement of Google's Universal Analytics and its replacement by Google Analytics 4. Which makes this month a critical one for marketers who want to understand year-on-year performance. Dora Moldovan, Managing Director of data technology agency Braidr, discusses what impact the changes will have on business and marketers and why this month, July 2022, is the right time to prepare for Google Analytics 4 and a cookieless future.

The cookieless future is here and marketing professionals are being asked to reconsider everything they do. Measurement is one of the aspects that has been primarily reliant on cookies previously and it’s more clear than ever that this paradigm needs to shift in order to match the requirements of the future.

Why is Google Analytics changing?

Why is this happening? Regulatory changes, browser privacy controls and users’ focus on privacy and data control are shifting the paradigm in which data is being consumed, shared and measured. All of these actions are introducing gaps in the way web analytics work. So to mitigate all of these factors, plus to fill in the gaps, Google Analytics 4 introduces machine learning algorithms that will introduce a predictive feature so we can understand the full extent of the data we are collecting.

When is this change happening?

Google has announced that they will sunset Google Analytics Universal from the 1st of July, 2023. This means they will stop collecting data into the old systems starting with 30th June, 2023.

For marketers, this means that from July 2022, we should be able to collect the data in the new system. If we want to compare data historically, everything in the way we measure and collect data will change. So there is no point in comparing the two systems. The time to act is now.

What’s new in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics 4 brings a lot of new features.

It is built on new technology. Google Analytics Universal is already 10 years old and it was built on the old code base of Urchin. That is the company that Google bought to create Google Analytics. That itself is around 18 years old. So we're talking about the big revolution in the way.

The technology before web analytics will work alongside this change. Google introduces the tracking on web and app. So Google Analytics 4 will work just as well on your website, as well as on your app. Google Analytics 4 brings a focus on privacy. Recently, we've seen Twitter receiving 150 million pounds find due to the practices around data collection.

This of course, alongside GDPR & CCPA and all of the other privacy laws, brings data collection and data practices to the forefront of every business's mind. Google Analytics will help businesses be more accountable, improve their data collection processes and respect all of the privacy laws.

What does this change mean?

As a business - you might be interested in the privacy controls that allow you to be able to collect, use and activate the data in a way that is compliant.

As a marketer - Google Analytics 4 brings deeper integration with Google Ads through deeper sharing of audiences between the systems. Also, Google Analytics 4 means the end of last-click attribution, using data-driven attribution as its default attribution model.

As a technology practitioner - the deep integration between Google Analytics 4 and BigQuery means the data can flow from your analytics systems into your data warehousing at the click of a button.

As a data enthusiast - the feature that might get you the most excited is the predictive nature of Google Analytics. Google Analytics Universal had a lot of gaps in terms of collecting the data and reporting on it. Given the privacy issues, the GDPR expectations and simply users choosing not to be tracked, Google Analytics 4 will change this because it comes with machine learning algorithms able to predict the right level of data and the right level of conversions that your website is actually collecting and converting.

Is Google Analytics 4 all you have to do in order to be ready for the cookieless future?

No, absolutely not. The cookieless future deals with how you collect the data, how you activate the data and how you measure the data. Of course, Google Analytics 4 will cover a lot of ground when it comes to the measurement of your data.

In terms of data collection, you will need to look into your practices, into your data privacy controls and you will need a cookie management platform. When it comes to data activation, it's up to you and all of the channels that you activate to make sure that you are capturing all of the first-party data and activating it in order to mitigate the loss of cookies.

Our team at Braidr can help you mitigate the risks of the migration, ensure that you're doing the migration in the right fashion and help you navigate the new interface as well. Get in touch with our team here.

Tags

Google Analytics
Data analytics
data strategy
Digital Marketing
analytics