Google Analytics 4 may just be a “new version” of Google Analytics to you, but there’s a whole lot more to this update than you may expect.

First of all, Universal Analytics, also known as GA3 is no longer going to process data from the 1st July 2023. So, it’s important that you get switched over soon.

GA4 is now the default Google Analytics when setting up any new properties.

But if you set yours up a while ago and are using Universal Analytics (you will notice that your ID starts with UA-), then you probably will want to switch – more on how to do that later.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google describes GA4 as “a new property designed for the future of measurement”. The idea is that Google Analytics won’t just be about tracking traffic that comes to your website, but it will have a whole lot more data that will allow digital marketers to analyse a whole customer journey across multiple platforms.

GA4 uses AI and machine learning to gather information on how your website and app users interact, while being more focused on customer privacy, by enforcing controls like cookieless measurement.

What are the new features found in Google Analytics 4?

A new dashboard

The first thing you will probably notice when logging into a new GA4 property is that the dashboard looks different.

It’s definitely a lot more streamlined and a lot of the reports that were previously on the LHS have been moved or have disappeared.

All measurements are now “events”

With Universal Analytics, you will be used to tracking page views and this would be considered to be the most important metric. However, in GA4, all the measurements are now called “events” and they are much more detailed.

For example, Google Analytics now includes new metrics called “engagement metrics” and they track engaged sessions, engagement rate and engagement time. This means, you will be able to track customers throughout their journey and get a much more in-depth report.

Predictions

This is where all the AI comes in! GA4 now has AI-powered insights which can predict outcomes and highlight trends. This enables marketers to make data-driven decisions and come up with more effective marketing strategies as they are based on predicted behaviours.

The metrics include things like churn probability, purchase probability and revenue probability. These metrics can help improve a whole range of areas in your marketing, such as creating custom funnels on your website based on customers’ different behaviours, or targeting specific audiences with ad campaigns. 

Spam Protection

With Universal Analytics, spammers can send fake data using the Measurement Protocol. This would completely mess up your marketing campaign as you don’t have accurate data. You may have noticed this if you have seen a strange source in the referrals or a sudden spike of traffic.

With GA4, only hits with a secret key is able to send data, and this key is not available publicly – you can only get it from your GA4 data stream settings.

Cross-platform tracking

This is basically impossible with Universal Analytics, but with GA4, a unique user ID is assigned during the login of a website or an app and as long as an appropriate javascript tag is enabled, the data will be captured.

That means, you can track the whole user journey on both your website and app and see the acquisition, engagement and retention.

More control over data

After Google’s announcement about getting rid of third-party cookies, companies are adapting to a potential cookieless world. GA4 is all about cookieless data.

This makes it easier for marketers to comply with GDPR rules and to obtain consent for both analytics and the ads.

GA4 also has a customisable dashboard so you can create custom segments based on certain trigger events and see the reports that you use the most.

How to switch to GA4

If you’re creating a new property, you won’t need to make a switch as Google Analytics 4 is now the default.

However, if you’re using Universal Analytics and want to switch over the GA4 now to avoid losing any data and get a headstart on understand all the new features, then it can be a bit complication.

Rather than write out all the steps below, we decided to recommend this video by Benjamin Mangold, Co-Founder of Love Data: