The Evolution of Google Analytics with GA4
In the digital marketing world, technology makes advancements almost as fast as trends on social media move from one to the next. Especially after laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been formed, technologies that digital marketers all know and love are constantly evolving.
You may have heard of one of these platforms before: Google Analytics. Whether you installed that tracking ID onto your website years back and haven’t looked at it since, or you look to insights from the platform to make critical business decisions every day, big changes are coming in 2023 – here’s how to be ready.
The version of Google Analytics that most digital marketers are familiar with today is known as ‘Universal Analytics’, or UA for short. Google has announced that they will be “sunsetting” this version of Google Analytics for their new version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) at the beginning of July 2023. Meaning that websites running UA codes to track user data will no longer be collecting new data, and users will be expected to export their precious data out of the platform within six months before it vanishes for good. This makes it imperative for websites to begin implementing GA4 codes on their backend in order to start collecting historical data in the new platform before it is too late.
Switching tracking IDs is easy enough, but you may be asking, “what is the difference of UA to GA4?” There are many differences between both platforms, which Optimize Smart does a great job of pointing out. Not only did Google change the reporting interface of the GA4 platform, but they changed their entire measurement model. The authors over at Optimize Smart talk about how UA uses a measurement model based on sessions and pageviews, whereas GA4 uses one based on events and parameters (Optimize Smart, 2022). This means that pageviews are now being viewed as events, and there is much more detailed information tied to that like title of the page or user location (Optimize Smart, 2022). Marketers are also able to create custom or conditional events that may only pertain to their company’s unique marketing funnel, instead of having to only work with the tools given out of the box.
In regard to privacy, GA4 now incorporates IP anonymization automatically into the platform, with no option to turn it off (Optimize Smart). This means that companies will not have the last 3 digits from website visitor’s IP addresses in any Google Analytics reporting, which upholds user’s privacy more so than before. GDPR views IP addresses as personal data, which is why we are seeing Google align their products to comply with the new regulations.
There are many more new features and changes to the new Google Analytics platform known as GA4. Need help getting yours set up on your website to start collecting data before it’s too late? Reach out – we’d be happy to help.