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How To Get Started with Google Analytics 4

We have always been a frontrunner in adapting to the latest technology and tools that can give our customers the much-needed competitive edge. In alignment with our goals for continuous improvement and excellence in business intelligence, we bring you another tool, the new Google Analytics 4, to help your businesses harvest the best value from your web traffic data.

Here is an overview of the features and updates Google Analytics 4 brings and the initial steps to start with it.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics is a widely known analytical platform that has been the default data tool used by businesses worldwide to track user interaction data across their websites, applications, and offline APIs. This original analytical platform is called Universal Analytics. It has been providing a rich set of monitoring and reporting features that help you track web data and measure a wide range of KPIs and metrics.

However, the Internet has evolved a lot more in recent years. Data flows from multiple sources, devices, and use cases. There are also growing concerns for privacy and regulatory compliances as more and more personal data gets used for analytical purposes. Google’s answer to deal with these growing challenges comes in the form of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

GA4 is not just an update over the traditional Universal Analytics (UA). It differs on a fundamental level in the way data is collected and processed. It uses AI to assist data collection and also places a heavy emphasis on privacy. The following three major characteristics set it apart from its predecessor:

  • Privacy-first data tracking

  • AI-based predictive data modeling

  • X - Channel measurement

GA4 is built on the App + Web properties platform and is set to become Google’s sole data analytical platform by July 1, 2024. While users acquainted with UA can continue using it, you should remember that all data collection via UA will cease in a year, and you can only access legacy data.

Moving to GA4 can help you get ahead of the curve and ensure you are ready when the support for UA is completely stopped.

What’s New in GA4?

  • Powerful AI-based insights

GA4 uses AI-based data modeling to fill in the gaps in collected data and helps you predict user behavior.

  • End-to-end user interaction tracking

It is designed to give a comprehensive picture of the user’s journey across multiple devices.

  • Future proof

GA4 is designed to work in a cookie-less environment, thus making it suitable for the changing web landscape where cookies are to be used less and less due to privacy concerns.

  • Event tracking

GA4 allows you to track user behavior with the help of event-based data tracking for actions like clicks, scrolling, and so on.

  • A new UI

GA4 presents an updated UI that lets you track events without needing onsite code editing.

  • Cross-domain tracking

GA4 lets you track data across multiple domains and devices without requiring you to do any kind of code editing.

  • Deprecated IP logging

GA4 has completely deprecated IP address logging to comply with the GDPR requirements

  • Support for granular location and device data collection

With GA4, you can enable or disable the collection of certain data points, such as location data, browser versioning, and more. This allows you to stay compliant with local regulatory laws.

As you start using GA4, you will realize that many of the older ways of thinking are replaced by a privacy-first data collection model presented by GA4. Older metrics, such as bounce rate and session duration, are deprecated. You will have to use new metrics, such as engagement rates and engaged sessions, to understand user behavior.

Views replace the previously used page views. The way session information is collected has also changed. The way data is presented is more aligned with events and a lot more new features that all combine to provide you with a much more nuanced and insightful picture of your online presence.

Benefits of GA4

As mentioned earlier, GA4 presents a unified view combining the app and web properties. This helps you establish more consistent metrics and dimension scopes.

The upgraded UI is much simpler and provides several easy-to-use reporting tools.

The advanced level of privacy data controls lets you decide which data to collect, thus letting you stay compliant with the region’s local regulatory laws.

Getting started with GA4

Whether you are already using UA or just getting your teeth into Google Analytics, it is necessary to move to GA4. While new users can directly start using GA4 as it is the default analytical platform from now on, old users of UA can continue to use UA along with GA4.

GA4 is not a simple update over UA; hence, you cannot just upgrade your UA setup with a single button click. You will have to set it up as a separate platform. The migration from UA to GA4 can be a little challenging, given the fundamental differences in the data structure followed by these two platforms. While you can choose to use the mirroring service provided by Google, it may not always be reliable.

Let us help you and walk you through the steps to adapting to GA4:

  • Login to your Analytics account with your existing website property

  • Go to the Admin section and navigate to the Account column > Select an account

  • Go to Property > select the UA property for your site > click on upgrade to GA4 from the prompt. If you cannot find the upgrade option, you can create your own Property for “Web +App” and make it a GA4 property.

To enable data collection, you can connect your existing tracking data or add new tags.

  • Go to GA4 property > Select Data streams > Add stream to select the type of data to be tracked.

  • Enter the domain name and click on Create stream.

You can use the existing Google Tag Manager integrations to add tracking for your properties. This can be applied by default for sites that are using Tag Manager. For sites that don’t use Tag Manager, you must upgrade the analytics.js file on the site to gtag.js. This can be achieved by using the Tag Manager.

If your apps use any Firebase SDK integrations, these will also have to be updated.

Your Turn

Adapting to GA4 can be challenging as it transforms how data collection and modeling are carried out. It provides a completely new way of handling analytics; hence, it is best to take time to understand the insights it provides and its nuances. That's precisely why we're launching a dedicated blog series on Google Analytics, diving deep into its intricacies. Stay tuned for more insightful content coming your way!

That said, if you need assistance getting started with Google Analytics 4 or want to explore invincible ways this data analytics platform can enhance your operations, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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