In July 2023, Google will end of life the current version of GA–Universal Analytics–and replace it with Google Analytics 4. Why you should migrate soon.
Millions of businesses rely on services like Google Analytics to understand their customers and create better experiences for them. With the industry focus moving towards user privacy & cookie-less browsing, providing accurate analytics on customer behavior is set to become challenging. And, Google Analytics 4, powered by Google’s advanced machine learning models, might very well take center stage in a privacy-centric future.
How will Google Analytics 4 work and what are the benefits?
Unlike Google Analytics’ previous version – Universal Analytics (UA), which used a session-based data model to distinguish between users and collect user-centric data, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) relies on an event-based approach to achieve the same results. According to Google,
Here are some of the highlights of Google Analytics 4:
Reduced dependency on cookies
In its effort to stop using third-party cookies, GA4 only depends on first-party cookies to distinguish between users. It is evident that Google is looking at a cookie-less future with proposals like Topics API for targeted marketing. On 25th January 2022 Google introduced the Topics API, and instead of using cookies, Topics API uses web browsers like Google Chrome to collect 3 user interests over a 3-week period from the pages they visit and share these interests with stakeholders.
Cross-platform identification of users
GA4 uses Google signals, which capture data across sites and apps, of users that are signed into Google and have Ads Personalization turned on. This allows Google to collect event data across mobile and web.
GA4 supports multiple streams of data and stores all incoming data in a centralized reporting interface. The architecture of GA4 allows users to install cross-device tracking and unify the data across multiple touchpoints. This allows cross-device reporting, cross-device remarketing, and cross-device conversion.
Predictive analytics through machine learning
With advanced machine learning models that process customer page events, GA4 is set to provide businesses with predictive analytics on customer behavior. GA4 supports predictive metrices such as:
Purchase probability: The probability of a user that was active in the last 28 days (about 4 weeks) to make a purchase in the next 7 days.
Churn probability: The probability that a user who was active in the last 7 days will not be active in the next 7 days.
Revenue prediction: The revenue expected from the next 28 days (about 4 weeks) from users active within the last 28 days (about 4 weeks).
What are the advantages of creating a GA4 account now?
Universal Analytics will stop processing data on July 1st, 2023. Currently, there is no direct upgrade path from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, and there is no way to export historical UA data transfer to GA4. To ensure you have data for year-on-year analysis, set up a GA4 account alongside your current UA account before July 23, 2022 or as soon as possible. Also, this will give you time to familiarize yourself with the new user interface, reports, and metrices.
As users take their privacy increasingly seriously, customer data collection via instruments like cookies seem to be on its way out, and GA4 is designed to operate in a cookie-less world. Leveraging Google’s advanced machine learning data models across data streams to better understand customers gives businesses the edge they need to create future-proof strategies.
To ensure continuity of critical data, plan your switchover from UA to GA4 well ahead. Here are 3 steps that you should follow for the migration to GA4:
- Set up a parallel Google Analytics 4 account.
- Start gathering data and get familiar with the new interface & reports in GA4.
- You can use both GA accounts in parallel during the transition year.
- Seamlessly transition to Google Analytics 4 on or before July 1, 2023.
Milestone has already migrated hundreds of accounts, has a proven playbook, and can manage the migration to GA4 for you.