The Importance of Updating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

For digital marketing, Google’s umbrella covers a number of vital tools that we all need in order to achieve success. As the internet and digital culture evolve, so do Google’s tools and requirements. This in turn necessitates that we all regularly update our digital marketing and digital presence in order to maintain best practices and maintain our position on the cutting edge of our respective industries. 

Currently, we’re facing another major shift in Google and the tools it offers us. In October 2020 Google announced that GA 4 would become the new standard for analytics, replacing the then-current Universal Analytics (also known as Google Analytics). While this change doesn’t take full effect until July 2023, it does have implications for those using Google and anticipating the shift to GA4. Updating as soon as possible is a must for most of us; we’ll explore why here.

What’s Different About G4?

Universal Analytics/Google Analytics has been in use for about 10 years and was likely well past due for an upgrade. As G4 rolls out, it offers a number of improvements and advantages over its predecessor: 

  • A New Future-Proof Data Model. Moving past a conventional, cookie-based approach, the new model is more effective and future-proof in a changing digital landscape.
  • Integrated Google Big Query Linking. Previously a paid feature, in GA4 users will be able to send their data to Google’s data warehouse, Big Query, quickly and easily. This allows for greater integration of your data, low-cost storage, and an enhanced ability to analyze your data alongside your other digital marketing efforts.
  • Incorporated Web and App Analytics. As part of an overall streamlining of the user experience, G4 incorporates web and app analytics into the same view for an easier, more efficient approach to your data.
  • Cross-Channel Data-Driven Attribution Models. G4 will make use of machine learning algorithms to enable credit conversions across channels, rather than the last-channel approach utilized by its predecessor. This in turn enables users to make critical marketing and management decisions based on data about the best-performing channels, updated quickly.

G4 is a clear step forward, offering a more powerful experience, better tools, and greater flexibility than Universal Analytics/Google Analytics. However, while these improvements are reason enough to make the change on their own, there’s another driving force pushing us all to update.

A Time Sensitive Update to Google Analytics 4

The whole point of both Universal Analytics/Google Analytics and G4 is the collection, analysis, and preservation of data. As this is a hefty change–again, Universal Analytics/Google Analytics has been around for 10 years–there are some potential risks to the transition. In brief: unless users set up their G4 accounts and sync them to their Universal Analytics/Google Analytics data prior to July 23, 2022, they will lose all data from that date forward when G4 becomes the standard in July of 2023. A year’s worth of data is valuable, and a potentially catastrophic loss to many businesses. 

The transition to G4 is a time-sensitive affair, and we are recommending that all users set up their G4 accounts as soon as possible. For professional guidance about the G4 transition, or any other aspects of your digital marketing, please get in touch with us today.