What’s the deal with Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

What’s the deal with Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is now available – but what’s the deal?

Preparing for a world without cookies

GA3 relies on cookies – and once ‘Cookie Apocolypse’ hits it will mean that we won’t be able to collect data using cookies anymore.

As a result – the Google team have been forced to re-build the whole Google Analytics platform from the ground up.

Unfortunately, this fresh-start means that (unless you are using Firebase) your existing GA data will not be migrated to GA4.

Because the tracking and reporting systems have been fully overhauled – your existing tracking will need to be reconfigured entirely.

Re-rebuilding your existing conversion, eCommerce and other tracking from GA3 to GA4 will require significant planning and testing – and you will also need to ensure any external sources that are integrated with GA (such as your Google Ads or reporting dashboards) are also reconfigured

GA4 brings more powerful reporting features

GA4 unlocks powerful reporting, audience segmentation and analysis features, check out some of the fancy new reporting examples below.

Example 1 – reporting on cohorts of different user segments behaviour along important journeys, like comparing level completion rates of free and paid users.

Example 2 –  If your Google Analytics 4 property is linked to a Google Ads account, you can now explore campaign data, like impressions and clicks, alongside user behaviour data in the Analysis module.

GA4 – a work in progress

At this stage, the GA4 platform is still a work in progress and lacks crucial features which are available in GA3. As of 29/03/2021 – the following GA3 features are not available in GA4:

  • Annotations
  • Attribution / Multi-Channel Funnels
  • Calculated Metrics
  • Channel Groups (Custom/Editable)
  • Connectors: Adsense
  • Connectors: Campaign Manager 360
  • Connectors: Display & Video 360
  • Connectors: Google Ad Manager
  • Connectors: Google Optimize
  • Connectors: Google Search Console
  • Connectors: Salesforce
  • Connectors: Search Ads 360
  • Content Groups
  • Emojis
  • Filters
  • Hostname Dimension
    IP Filters (Regex Support)
  • Landing Pages Report
  • Measurement Protocol – IOT tracking
  • Product-Level, Session-Level Custom Dimensions
  • Query Parameter exclusions
  • Roll-Up Properties
  • Site Search Reports
  • Store Visits
  • Stream-level User Permissions
  • Views

Where do we go from here?

Do not burn your bridges with the ‘old’ GA just yet!

Instead – you should get your developer to configure GA4 to run in parallel with GA3, and track/report in both systems.

By setting GA4 up now it will ensure you have a long data source, so when the switch does happen, you will be able to report on historical data within GA4.

Once you have the ‘basic’ GA4 setup implemented, you can then work on properly plan and testing the migration of your eCommerce and conversion tracking to GA4.

Then (hopefully in the near future) when GA4 is ‘finished’ you can work to decommission the GA3 implementation.