Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics

Google has unveiled its new Google Analytics 4 product as “the future of analytics”. According to some experts, Universal Analytics has already become obsolete and can be safely sent to the mezzanine. Is it so? Why is the new free service better? What are its advantages?

In the current environment, expectations from marketers are constantly rising and business is rapidly moving online. Important, informed decisions should be made based on up-to-date information, real data about buyers. The new approach proposed in Google Analytics 4 allows you to effectively analyze user behavior based on a large number of devices, restrictions on access to personal data.

For active business development, it is important that your customers see the product and be able to purchase it when it is convenient for them. Today the company’s brand – it’s not just having a website, an app on a mobile phone, a YouTube channel, or a social media profile. This is something more that you can get with Google Analytics 4. The new service takes into account business trends, helps track user behavior on various platforms.

The developers claim that this version is quite suitable not only for doing business on the site, but also in the mobile application. Exploring the capabilities of Google Analytics 4, changes are immediately noticeable:

  • updated interface;
  • data model changes;
  • the ability to track metrics;
  • changing the resource type, which makes it possible to track user activity on various platforms and devices.

Now you can study exactly how customers interact with your resource and make effective adjustments based on the analysis.

New interface and integration with Google Ads

Changes in interfaces are visible to the naked eye. The left menu has been reduced in size and taken on a more simplified version: the developers have removed numerous menus with reports, grouped them around events, a custom conversion path, and user data.  This is a more productive approach to business development. The settings have become flexible, because now there is access to custom event parameters.

Despite the fact that the functionality of seamless integration with other products from Google has not yet been finalized, it is available and is already showing itself well. This includes the improved integration of Google Analytics 4 with Google Ads.

The new version uses ML machine learning to alert marketers when data changes. Now you can:

  • see anomalies in generated reports;
  • predict conversion probability;
  • to learn about a possible increase in demand for products;
  • monitor and prevent churn.

Today, ML hints and predictive metrics are available.

To see alerts or hints, the user simply needs to press the “Hints, Projections” button. The drop-down menu allows you to see not only all the necessary information, but also the search bar.

Via the “Analysis” tab located in the menu on the left, forecasting indicators are available. More updates from Google are planned with improved features, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the updates.

Google Analytics 4 allows you to control access to information in your own account. He also decides whether to use the data to personalize ads or use it only to evaluate the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.

Three levels of identification

Real users can interact with your brand not only in browsers, but also across platforms. These are the three levels of identification:

  • Google Signals;
  • User_id;
  • Device_id.

Google Analytics 4 functionality allows you to evaluate, combine, and eliminate duplicates when interacting with users. This gives a real insight into customer behavior.

Differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics

I propose to compile a list that will show the clear differences between the new and previous generation of applications from Google:

  1. Service structure. There is no concept of “views” in Google Analytics; and related filters. At the same time, the new version has accounts, resources, organizations and data streams.
  2. All work in the new generation of analytics is built around events, and in the previous version it was session-oriented.
  3. Changes in the tracking code: new identifier format – G-XXXXXXX, instead of the string UA-XXXXXXX-X.
  4. IP address anonymization is enabled by default and will not be disabled in the new version.
  5. There is a new – Engagement Reports, which lets you see summaries of user interactions with your brand, and more.
  6. The section in Google Analytics 4 with improved statistics provides data on the actions of site users.
  7. Now there is no data sampling in reports, which used to be a real pain for marketers.
  8. In Google Analytics 4, there is no separation between advanced and regular ecommerce. Noticeable changes in the structure, parameters and names of events. Now you can’t just copy the settings.
  9. The previous version allowed historical data to be stored indefinitely. The maximum retention period is now up to 14 months.
  10. Google Analytics 4 integration is only available with Google BigQuery and Google Ads, while there were more options before. But at the same time, now all users have access to data transfer in GBQ, which was previously paid.

Are there any disadvantages in Google Analytics 4?

Of course, they exist and one of the main drawbacks of – this is a beta version, that is, the new service has not yet been finalized. There are some things that need to be changed. For example, the possibility of importing data with information about expenses at a selected point in time is not implemented. That is, you will not be able to analyze non-Google campaigns for their effectiveness.

There is also no integration with key products such as Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360 and Google Optimize. Google Analytics 4 allows you to export data to Google BigQuery, but there is a nuance – the main parameters of users and events are stored in attachment fields. More data sources will be needed to process and analyze this information.