First things first - What’s with the 4?
Well, it’s worth remembering that there have been two major overhauls of the platform since it was acquired:
- 2007: Transition from Urchin to the classic Google Analytics
- 2012: Transition from classic Google Analytics to the current Universal Analytics (UA)
In the last year we’ve seen a third major overhaul from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, thus creating the fourth version.
Google Analytics 4 is now pretty much a year old, so the question is - have you adopted it yet? At the very least, please tell us you have it set up and running on your site… Please?
Because here’s the thing - Google Analytics 4 will eventually be the only GA platform option around! And while there’s no indication that the traditional GA (UA) will be going anywhere anytime soon, new properties already default to GA4. This is a strong sign that Google Analytics 4 is worth prioritising.
BTW, did we mention that the new GA4 does not populate data from your existing Universal Analytics? This means it needs to be set up separately to start tracking.
Google Analytics 4: What’s Changed?
In short… a lot.
It obviously looks a bit different, but the key is that GA4 now uses a very different data structure and data collection logic - everything is built around users and events (not sessions, as we are used to). That’s great news, because not only is the event-based model more flexible and better able to predict user behavior, it also provides major benefits to marketers, such as cross-platform analysis (yay!).
Another fundamental change in Google Analytics 4 is the way ‘properties’ are handled. Universal Analytics forces you to create a separate property for each of your online entities.
So, if you have an iOs app = property. Android app = property. Website (you’ve guessed it) = property.
In GA4, properties are created using data streams. A data stream is used to pull data from an online entity and push it into your property. The good news - each property can have multiple (up to 50) data streams. That means all of your data lives in one place and you see it all together in order to get a better picture of your users’ journeys!
Should you switch to Google Analytics 4?
In case you’re asking yourself - do I need to switch to Google Analytics 4 right now?
Our answer is: Yes. Yes, absolutely, a thousand times yes.
Setting up a GA4 property now means you can run it in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics. Even if you don’t plan on using GA4 right away, collecting data and strengthening its machine learning models will make future analysis more meaningful.
Always remember: better data collection = better-informed marketing strategies.
Now, you may not know (or love) GA4 yet, but in order to prepare yourself for a UA-less future it’s imperative that GA4 is set up ASAP.
Goes without saying that Potting Shed is here to help, should you need a hand. Just get in touch with any questions and we’ll happily shed some light.