Google Analytics 4 has already begun to replace Universal Analytics, in what Google has called its “biggest upgrade” since the launch of Analytics. This means that businesses will have to adapt to a new way of measuring website data. While GA4 will pull some data over from Universal Analytics, businesses are encouraged to set it up as a new property to fully leverage the benefits of the upgrade.

What will change with GA4?

The switch to GA4 means reports will need a more privacy-conscious approach to data collection, with GA4 offering more emphasis on modelling users and their behaviour. The upgrade provides a bigger ecosystem of measurement for businesses when it comes to measuring campaigns, giving a stronger picture of how different parts of the business interact to generate the resulting data. 

With automatic optimisation for Google Ads and better tracking of unique users, there is the potential to better understand and optimise campaigns. However, GA4’s reporting won’t hold businesses’ hands in the way Universal Analytics did, and users may need time to get used to it. It is recommended that businesses break down and map what they want to track, and understand what success looks like for them, to ensure they can make the most of the new system.

What does this mean for businesses?

With the switch to GA4, businesses need to be aware of the changes that need to be made to maintain their data. Universal Analytics will no longer be available after July 1st, with the resulting data being held for six months after being closed completely, meaning businesses need to adapt quickly to avoid losing data. Google is also encouraging businesses to move over to GA4 before the end of April 2023, as this is when Universal Analytics’ automatic bidding on Google Ads will end. 

The reporting from GA4 will show a drop in certain stats such as unique user numbers at first, as GA4 reflects more accurate reporting. Of course, the earlier your business adapts to the new model behind GA4, the stronger your data will become in the future. But it is more important for businesses to be careful with their data and take GDPR into consideration when deciding on their GA4 settings, as the much more powerful systems offers a larger range of data reporting. Also, watch out for the trap of data overload with the upgrade’s new capabilities offering so many shiny new options!

What to learn more?

The switch to GA4 is a once-in-a-career opportunity to get data right for businesses. It is important for businesses to make the switch as soon as possible to fully benefit from the upgrade. While Google Guides have good information on adjusting to GA4 to make the transition smoother, experts recommend getting technical help on transferring or setting up GA4 for your business. 

Faith can help you navigate the change, set up the new property, strategically plan the best ways to leverage the new data available, and ensure your data is protected while making the most of the new opportunities that GA4 presents. Drop our Head of Digital, Tom, a line today to find out more how we can help you.

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Katie Sessions Account Executive
At Faith, Katie is responsible for helping to manage client accounts and deliver communications plans, alongside continuing to craft compelling stories that resonate with audiences.