Google Analytics 4: What has changed?

Now that Google Analytics 4 is available, we’re going to help you understand the fundamental changes that are happening behind the scenes before diving into the new features. Understanding the fundamentals will save you time and effort when explaining this new paradigm to your clients and stakeholders.

Now, it’s important to note that Universal Analytics isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s likely to be around for many more years, but it’s clear that Google Analytics 4 is the future of Google Analytics. Aside from the new tool parts, there is actually a lot more to be done. So, let’s take a closer look at the big four changes:

  • Device support for mobile and web all in one
  • A new, more unified data model
  • New reporting views inside the tool
  • A new perspective and a different approach to analytics

Track Multiple Devices on One Platform

Tracking mobile devices has always been a difficult task in Google Analytics. Because of the different technology, we needed a different approach. There has always been another version of Google Analytics for mobile app tracking, such as Google Analytics for Apps, Firebase Analytics, and the latest is Google Analytics for Firebase. The big problem was that these versions were very different from Google Analytics tracking for websites. They were so different that it was difficult to implement monitoring on both platforms.

So, the first big change we have to mention is that you can now send multiple data feeds to Google Analytics 4. Now you can track not only your website but also your mobile devices in one account. There is an SDK for iOS and Android, as well as a Gtag-based JavaScript library for tracking your site. And now you can measure and archive incoming data in a single reporting interface and analyze it across devices. This is possible thanks to a new architecture that allows us to establish monitoring between devices and unify data points on these different devices. In addition, this includes the ability to track a user across multiple devices. Now, tracking page views, bounce rate, or time spent on site isn’t exactly the right fit for tracking a mobile app. This brings us to the second change, the new data model.

Unified Data Model

To unify all of these data collection methods and the data coming into the system from different devices, we have completely rethought how Google Analytics works. This is because mobile apps produce completely different data than mobile websites, using different charts and graphs to track data on both sides. So Google Analytics 4 gets rid of page views, transactions, social interactions and combines them under one concept.

Google Analytics 4 got rid of page views, transactions, social interactions and unified them under one concept. These are called events. Now, this is very useful because the event can be anything. You can call your event a page view, a screen view, or an app view. And then you can send all the data you want.

With each triggered event, you can also send additional information that describes the event in more detail. They are called event parameters. Mobile device with simplified tags for various events. You may be familiar with Universal Analytics options such as dimensions. For example, a purchase event might have properties such as order ID, receipts, items purchased, and so on.

They are written as key-value pairs, so you can use them for segmentation, filtering, or searching in later parsing steps. Event parameters with key-value pairs in Google Analytics 4. Additionally, these properties can be found in other events. Then you can ask them together and compare them against each other. This makes things more flexible in the long run. It also makes the system promising for any other type of device you might want to control. This includes devices such as Internet of Things devices, POS systems or smart shopping. But it also means that you need to pay more attention to setting up your events in order to analyze them later. Therefore, proper planning is an important component of working with Google Analytics 4.

New Views for Reporting

The next big change in Google Analytics 4 is how you can view data coming from different resource streams. New views in Google Analytics 4 help you make sense of these event data. You may remember that Universal Analytics had many reports to answer your questions about your data. But now that the event data can be anything, it can be harder for the tool to make assumptions about what data is coming into the system. That’s why, at least for now, you’re seeing fewer standard reports in Google Analytics 4. Instead, you’ll be working with the Analytics Hub, which allows you more flexibility in querying your data.

Google Analytics 4 will no longer be a reporting interface where you simply view your data. It’s moving towards providing DIY tools for your referral so you can create one yourself. However, if you want to gain a deeper understanding of your data, Google Analytics 4 allows you to export raw data to Google BigQuery. Google BigQuery is a data storage solution. From here, you can take the data further, combine it with other data sources, perform custom analysis, and more. Of course, you can also export data from Google Analytics 4 to Google Data Studio, then view it and create reports for your clients and stakeholders. This is a very useful tool if you want to effectively present your data.

A Different Approach to Analytics

As you can see, Google Analytics 4 is different from our previous experience with Google Analytics. It’s a new tool that offers a fresh perspective on data and how it represents the new digital world. The simplified data model gives you more flexibility in handling the information sent to the system. It also allows Google to link this data to their existing machine learning systems to provide us with predictive information. So we don’t have to ask questions; instead, Google Analytics 4 gives us the information right away.

In addition, Google Analytics 4 is less stubborn about which device or activity we track. This makes it independent of assumptions about the type of business we have or the website we use. This opens up a lot of customization options, as setting up Google Analytics 4 won’t be the same as anyone else’s.

If you want to find more help with all things marketing, get in touch with a digital marketing agency to speak to the experts.