The Largest Google Analytics Product Update Since 2012

What is GA4? 

GA4 is a more advanced, event-based reporting property aiming to provide marketers with a holistic view of their users across multiple platforms. The property is setting the stage for tracking within a cookie-less world. 

While there is a lot to unpack with GA4, and with new features and functionality still rolling out, Direct Agents has identified four (4) core features that separate it from the UA (Universal Analytics) we have all become accustomed.

AI & Machine Learning:

Although UA provided some ML capabilities, GA4 was built with ML as a core component; empowering marketers with the predictive insights needed to make meaningful and actionable business decisions. As of now, some of the notable models include Demand Surge, Churn, and User/Segment Value. 

However, it is expected that more features will continue to roll out in the coming months; including, advanced modeling to fill in the inevitable data gaps that will emerge due to the phasing out of 3rd party cookies.

Cross-Platform Data Collection

This feature is arguably one of the more important GA4 upgrades. Marketers are now able to gain a holistic view of their users by having web and app data streams feed into a single Google Analytics property. The feature provides brands and marketers alike with complete datasets and views into user behavior performances across both web and app-based properties. 

Until now, web and app data has been a very disconnected part of the Google Analytics ecosystem where app tracking would live in separate properties (Google Analytics for Mobile Apps) and even platforms (Firebase).

Funnel Reports

GA4 provides advanced funnel reporting features that were previously only available to GA360 users.  These funnel reports are extremely flexible and most importantly retroactive. Meaning, if there is a funnel that you want to analyze on the fly, it can be created and viewed using historical data. 

Funnels also come equipped with a new “Elapsed Time” feature that provides details into how long it takes for a user to go from point “A” to point “B”. This can be extremely useful in answering core business questions such as “How much time passes between transactions?”, “How long does it take to go from product add-to-cart to purchase?”. 

Google Big Query Export

Historically reserved for GA360 users, GA4 users now have free access to the GBQ integration. This allows brands to stream raw data directly into GBQ, which in turn opens up a new realm of possibilities into the types of predictive models and analyses that can be done using GA4 data.  

Switching From UA to GA4

For the time being, UA will continue to work as normal. However, the powerful and new features that GA4 provides will not be available within UA Properties, and therefore, a new GA4 Property must be created.

Unfortunately for many, the subtle importance of what was just said — “a new GA4 Property must be created” — may go unnoticed, but the fact that a new property must be activated creates a problem and a need for brands to consider switching over to GA4 as soon as possible. Direct Agents recommends activating GA4 as soon as possible while letting it run in parallel with UA.

The reason being that Property level data is only available from the time of implementation. This means that if a brand decides it’s time to switch over to GA4 next year, data will only be available from the time of activation. For brands who wish to switch over to GA4 but do not have the necessary expertise in this field, Direct Agents offers actionable solutions.

Direct Agents will provide full guidance on the process for brands switching over to GA4 Properties. From consulting with web developers to adapt site code to implementing GA4 events and naming structures via Google Tag Manager to getting the most out of the new features of GA4, Direct Agents will be there every step of the way to ensure your brand’s data is clean, comprehensive and ready for actionable analyses.

– Jeff Ciesielski, Senior Analyst at Direct Agents

If you have any questions about GA4, please contact us at [email protected]