On July 31, 2019, Google released an exciting insight about creating a new Google Analytics experience that would unify website and app analytics. Little by little, details about this new approach began to emerge. What would create this experience was a new Google Analytics product: Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Google Analytics has been in our lives for a long time and has a large market share in digital marketing. It is clear that a well-established tool that appeals to such a wide audience leaving its throne to a new product will have revolutionary effects in the field of marketing.
However, it will not take many years for us to observe these effects. Because the standard Universal Analytics properties will stop data processing as of July 1, 2023. This means that in the not-too-distant future, all Universal Analytics users will have to migrate to Google Analytics 4.
It is natural that this change creates question marks for Google Analytics users. Because using a completely new product means planning new daily routines and creating new marketing strategies.
In this article, we'll talk about the impact of Google Analytics on marketing and what Google Analytics 4 means for the marketing world.
Of course, when you want to collect different data from different devices and analyse this data correctly, primitive data collection methods are insufficient. Unlike the previous product, which carried out the reporting and analysis process through page views and sessions, Google Analytics 4 is much more user engagement oriented. From now on, organisations will be able to perform much more accurate, event based user behavior analysis via Google Analytics.
This new data collection method is called Events. And Events provide advanced customization according to how and under what conditions you want to collect data. Moreover, for many basic Event options, there is no need to do extra operations via Google Tag Manager.
Of course, the new model requires more detailed thinking than the simple data collection mechanism of the previous product. But Google Analytics 4 in turn gives you a much more modern and detailed pool of data analysis options.
Previously, Google Analytics users needed an additional tool to collect data from mobile. The data collection mechanisms available for web properties were not multifunctional for mobile devices. For this reason, tools with different data collection mechanisms were needed for different devices.
Google Analytics 4 uses new forms of data collection and reporting to allow analysis of data from web and app on a single platform. Thus, it offers a much easier experience for users who need analytics for multiple devices.
Google Analytics 4 goes one step beyond the reporting options we are familiar with from Universal Analytics. Since we obtain data from many different sources with new data collection methods, it is very difficult to standardise the reporting of these data.
Therefore, Google has created a much more flexible structure in the reporting center. Now, beyond a simple reporting tab, we are faced with a mechanism where users create the most accurate reporting format in line with their organisation's needs. Although it complicates the learning curve, it is a fact that this model offers much more advanced reporting possibilities.
In its new product, Google has also benefited from AI technologies that are likely to shape the future. The new predictive metrics model, based on machine learning, enables you to make more accurate forecasts for the future of your organisation and makes your future planning much easier. Google predicts that this new model will have a radical impact on monitoring user journeys, especially in the e-commerce sector.
Although these are the glaring new features of the platform, it is possible to obtain more detailed feature information from Google's resource base.
If you are hesitant to switch to Google Analytics 4, we have some good news to put your mind at ease. It is possible to use Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 together! In other words, if you want to benefit from the advanced capabilities offered by Google Analytics 4, but are not ready to give up your data and reports from the old product, you have the opportunity to use these two products at the same time.
Considering that you will eventually have to switch to Google Analytics 4, it is in your best interest to start using the new product when you have a long time to grasp and master it. Unfortunately, the new Google Analytics data collection mechanism will not benefit from your historical data. For this reason, the sooner you take action to use the new product, the faster the product starts the data collection process.
Of course, switching while the basic development journey of the product is still in progress will also make it easier for you to observe what Google signals on product development strategies and make your own planning accordingly.
It's important to note, though, that moving to a new product requires a tiresome manual setup process and there is no guarantee that your existing data structure and the way you collect data will adapt quickly to the new product.
Therefore, giving up on Universal Analytics completely may not be the best option, and creating a slow and fluent transition process by using two products together is always an option.
Google Analytics still remains the most used tool in the field of marketing. According to W3Techs, Google Analytics' market share among traffic analysis tools is over 85%. So, there is no doubt that the evolution of a platform with such a large user base will affect the marketing field in general.
The fact that user expectations and preferences move in a direction that emphasises privacy will be a significant advantage for Google, which is moving from cookies to data-driven predictive analysis. Of course, there have been companies and tools that have moved in this direction before Google, but there is no doubt that Google will change the current dynamics in this regard.
One of the most important factors that made Google Analytics attractive was its near-perfect compatibility with the Google environment. However, their data collection and reporting capabilities were insufficient in the eyes of users looking for more advanced possibilities. A combination of Google's existing compliance capabilities with advanced data collection and reporting potential could be a red alert for competing tools.
As has happened before, the fact that such a common and free tool incorporates some of its competitors' signature features can trigger a wave of innovation due to the nature of competition. This wave of innovation could lead to the creation of much more advanced marketing tools. So Google Analytics 4 could mean the start of a new era for the entire digital marketing industry.