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Google Analytics - GA4

Google Analytics (GA) is a web analytics service offered by Google that helps website owners track and analyse user behaviour on their websites. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of the Google Analytics platform that offers new features and capabilities compared to the previous version, Universal Analytics (UA).

The data model and tracking methodology used by GA4 is different from the previous version. This means that the new reports generated by GA4 will be different from those generated by UA.

Many of us track our client-sites activity and produce monthly dashboards for the key stakeholders within the organisations that we work for. For this reason, we should look at the changes and benefits to help justify the potential loss of continuity across reports.

What can we expect to see in these new reports? Here are some of the key differences between UA and GA 4:

1. Data Model: GA4 uses a new data model that focuses on user behaviour rather than pageviews. It tracks events and user interactions across multiple platforms, including mobile apps, websites, and offline data sources, and uses machine learning to provide more accurate and actionable insights.

2. Tracking: GA4 offers improved tracking capabilities that allow for more detailed event tracking and measurement of user engagement, including scroll tracking, video engagement tracking, and file download tracking. It also offers cross-domain tracking, which allows for more accurate tracking of user behaviour across different domains.

3. Reporting: GA4 has a redesigned reporting interface that offers more customisable and flexible reporting options compared to the previous version. It also offers real-time reporting and provides insights into user behaviour across multiple platforms.

4. Integration: GA4 offers better integration with other Google products and services, including Google Ads and Google BigQuery. It also supports data import from third-party sources and allows for custom event and user property definitions.

5. Cookie-less: GA4 is designed to be more privacy-focused and supports a cookie-less tracking model that uses machine learning to fill in data gaps caused by cookie restrictions. It also offers more granular controls over data collection and processing.

Overall, GA4 offers new and improved features that provide a more comprehensive and accurate view of user behaviour across multiple platforms, while also being more privacy-focused and adaptable to changes in the digital landscape.

On July 1, 2023, standard UA properties will stop processing data. In the meantime Google has encouraged website owners, managers and app developers to start using GA4 alongside UA. GA4 is the future of Google Analytics, and Google has made it clear that they will continue to invest in its development and improve its functionality.

It's worth noting that even when UA is eventually retired, website owners and app developers will still be able to access their historical data through the Google Analytics interface. However, they may not be able to generate new reports or view real-time data once UA is switched off.

On that day the King will be dead. Long live the King.

Alan Macdonald


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