The dynamics of change taking place in online marketing and analytics today is almost unimaginable. Analysts are therefore faced with new and growing challenges. Among the devices used by modern users, mobile ones have definitely dominated in recent years. In addition, the number of traffic sources to websites is clearly increasing. Because of this, the user path is becoming more complex, longer and more difficult to measure properly.
New chapter in web analytics
Another challenge for analysts is the process of changing online privacy regulations. The increasing complexity of user paths and changes in privacy have not only necessitated a different approach to web analytics. They have also forced the adaptation of the tools used in online analytics to the new reality.
One of the most spectacular changes in this area is the emergence of a new, fourth version of the best-known tool used in web analytics – Google Analytics. Google itself advertises GA4 as a service designed for the future of web measurement.
That’s not much of an exaggeration. Its predecessor, Universal Analytics, was created a decade ago. In digital marketing, it’s practically prehistory. Universal Analytics primary task was to measure website traffic for desktop and laptop users. Today, the model of web content consumption has changed dramatically. This caused UA to leave more and more questions posed by analysts unanswered. The utility of the tool was insufficient.
So there was a need to completely revamp the data collection model. The idea was to take into account both desktops and laptops, as well as smartphones, tablets and mobile applications.
The biggest changes in Google Analytics 4 compared to the previous version
The most significant difference is the use of a completely different data collection model. Google Analytics 4 collects data from both websites and apps. It also gives the ability to analyze users moving between a company’s website and its mobile app. Data collection thus takes place across an organization’s entire digital ecosystem.
The new version of Google Analytics uses event data, rather than session data, as before. This is undoubtedly a revolutionary change, as the previous web data collection methodology has been completely overhauled.
Universal Analytics had a hierarchical data collection model: session – page view or session – event. In GA4, there is no data hierarchy. All user interactions are recorded as events. In GA4, we also have much more flexibility in terms of passing the parameters of individual events (the characteristics of an event). UA only allowed us to pass on the category name, action and label of an event, and these could be used to define an event in more detail. GA4 gives us much more options for differentiating event types.
GA4 introduces two major changes to improve the data limitation situation:
Consent Mode and Data Modeling used in GA4 allow, in a sense, to defend web analytics against, as some say, the “analytics Armageddon” that is to come as a result of a drastic reduction in the data flowing into analysts’ tools.
The phenomenon of media convergence, which has been proclaimed for years, takes on an even fuller dimension
GA4 allows the aggregation of a much wider range of data. A range that will provide a reprocessed basis for making data-driven marketing decisions based on increasingly detailed information.
At the same time, using this tool will require greater data analysis skills. It will be important to have solid training in the new performance indicators and the benefits they carry in the long term.
Google Analytics 4 is an analytics tool that meets the most actual marketing needs. It helps you better understand how users interact in apps and on websites in a unified way. In doing so, it respects privacy and operates in a “cookie-free” environment.