The upcoming platform change from Google Analytics UA (universal analytics) to Google Analytics 4 is rolling out next summer. That might seem like too much change in too short of a time, but it’s for the best. As great as Universal Analytics is at collecting and organizing user data, GA4 is even better. It will replace UA and become a key tool in your digital marketing repertoire with a number of impressive extras like robust reports, extra powerful tracking and reporting, and more. What’s new in GA4? How good is Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics? How will this affect your ecommerce PPC management efforts? Generally, the best way to describe GA4 is that it’s different, but better.
Events, Not Hits
With GA4, expect to get a more comprehensive picture on your site’s users and how they interact with your site. Unlike UA, GA4 will report events on your page rather than different types of session-based hits. That might seem like a small change, and perhaps even a vague one. In practice, however, you’ll notice the difference as it is the core of how data is collected and processed in analytics. So you’re losing some of the session data, but gaining more event and interaction data. The biggest benefit is that you’ll collect different, more detailed, and more actionable data while your users’ privacy remains protected. You’ll still know whether someone clicked a link, of course, but GA4 goes a step further. You’ll know whether someone scrolled your page, and what percentage of the page they viewed. This can tell you what draws their attention and keeps it, and what’s failing to engage them. Other recordable events include video starts and stops, file downloads, form fills and submissions, and more. If you’ve configured your events and conversions, then you’ll see them in your reports. Another big plus is automatically tracked events are baked right in. There’s no need to send anyone in to add extra code to your website.
Going Above and Beyond
We’re long past the days when all purchasing is done on a desktop computer. Knowing whether your customers are engaging with your site through their laptop, tablet, or phone can make the difference in developing your campaigns. GA4 offers more advanced tracking capability than UA with built-in support across devices. After implementation, it will be easier to see and track users across several devices and platforms. as long as your users are signed in on the same Google account on their phone, tablet, and/or PC. This provides better insight on the conversion process and a more complete picture of how customers use your site. For example, you may see a higher percentage of users beginning their buying journey on a mobile device before converting on a laptop.
More Data Processing Power
With billions of dollars in commerce taking place every second, Google needs to be ready to provide plenty of data processing power. GA4 uses Google’s BigQuery, a data warehouse that’s far more powerful and scalable than Universal Analytics’ original data processing structure. Through BigQuery, GA4 can provide faster and more reliable reporting. Previously, with UA, running a larger report took much longer to load. GA4 can reduce that to a fraction of the original time. What’s more, each report can contain more data than before. And the more information you have about a situation, the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision about campaigns and website changes.
On the Face of It
Naturally, you should expect any new system to be a breeze to use. GA4 provides a revamped and cleaned-up user interface that’s better organized and more navigable than the previous system. GA4 makes it simpler to get the information you need and to generate reports. Speaking of reports, there’s understandable anxiety among marketers about the old reports going away, leaving them to decipher an entirely new format. True, the formatting will change, but even though it looks different, you’ll find very similar information as before, and then some, , in a fresh format that we’ll take a little bit of getting used to.
Those are the basics on what’s new in GA4, and how good Google Analytics 4 is vs. Universal Analytics. New things can be intimidating, but overall GA4 is more robust and user-friendly, and includes new and exciting features. For instance, Analytics Intelligence and Insights, which employs machine learning to help you quickly understand and act on your data.
Google plans to roll out GA4 on July 1, 2023. On that date, standard UA properties will stop processing new hits. You don’t have to wait until then to set GA4, however. You can set up your GA4 property now to have it overlap with UA, so you can practice and get used to it. If you’re still concerned about setting up GA4 with your ecommerce PPC ads and other digital marketing efforts, get in touch with Logical Position for a free consultation. We’re an ecommerce PPC consultant with extensive experience in running Google Ads campaigns, search engine optimization, website development, graphic design, data feed management, and social media marketing. Contact us today!