Google Analytics 4 (GA4): What Is It and Why Should I Use It?


Google Analytics 4 (GA4): What Is It and Why Should I Use It?

Google Analytics 4 featured image.

*** UPDATE: Google has announced that “all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023. 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on October 1, 2023.” This announcement makes updating your Google Analytics tracking even more important. ***

You may have started to hear about GA4 (Google Analytics 4) and wondered what it is and how it might impact the digital marketing strategy for your business. In this brief article, we’ll help you understand Google Analytics in general, how GA4 is different from the previous versions of Google Analytics, and how you can use GA4 to benefit your digital marketing efforts.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool made by Google that helps you analyze your website traffic, ultimately helping you to measure the ROI of your digital marketing efforts, including digital advertising. It provides you access to details about your website visitors such as how they got to your website, what they did once they were there, and if they took an action such as filling out a contact form, making a purchase, or calling your business. This data can be used for anything from doubling down on strategies that are working to focusing on improving strategies that aren’t currently working well. If you have a website up and running, there is a good chance Google Analytics is set up on your site.

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google is now offering Google Analytics 4 (formerly known as “App + Web”). It is a new kind of property that has different reports than you currently see in Universal Analytics properties. The advantage: Google Analytics 4 properties can be used for a website, an app, or both a website and app together. For reference, Universal Analytics properties only support websites. Another advantage is the new data modeling feature. It uses AI to fill in gaps in data when traditional analytics may be blocked by cookie-consent rules or blocked Javascript.

What Are the Major Differences Between GA3 and GA4?

  • While GA3 tracks users via sessions – or set periods encompassing everything a user does on your site – GA4 is event-based. Instead of creating a new session when a user returns to a site, GA4 records all events they complete, allowing Google to emphasize what users actually do on your site, rather than just caring that users get there.
  • GA4 has top-level reports built-in but provides an analysis tab that allows you to build reports based on the data most important to you.
  • GA4 allows you to garner data from your apps and website by placing the same tracking code on the different properties allowing for consolidated tracking. 

How Can GA4 Benefit Your Digital Marketing Efforts?

GA4 is focused on giving marketers a more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices. And it seems that it’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey, and not just individual metrics across devices/pages/segments. And with privacy concerns front and center, GA4 is designed to be future-proof, and work in a world without cookies or identifying data.

While GA4 is fully functional and the default property type when creating a new Google Analytics property, it will only collect data from the time of creation. So time is of the essence to get GA4 working for you.Need someone to walk through GA4 for your business? We can help! Contact us for a quick chat or email Andrew.