Google Analytics 4 is here! GA4, as it’s being called, officially launched in October 2020 and it has caused some chaos and confusion among marketers ever since.
Timeline of Google Analytics
There have been 4 versions of Google Analytics, which originally launched back in 2005:
- GA1: Urchin, 2005
- GA2: Classic, 2008
- GA3: Universal, 2013
- GA4: Latest version, 2020
Initial Evaluation of Google Analytics 4
- out of the box events already set up
- visually A LOT more data; superior charts/graphs
- detailed, user-based funnel tracking
- much more engagement data per user, which allows us to get away from an overreliance on the misleading “bounce rate” metric
- debugging tool that syncs with GTM to more easily troubleshoot tracking issues
- merges data from apps and desktop/mobile into one report, plus e-commerce data is far superior to the last version
- overly reliant on custom reports to glean even relatively basic data, such as landing page visits and even conversion by source
- you have to use Google Tag Manager for all conversions
- missing or lacking basic attribution, filtering, and secondary dimension functionalities
- many 3rd party reporting softwares are limited in what they can pull in from GA4 (not surprising given how new GA4 is)
- no ability to look at historical data. This is big as it signals tome that while this will one day be the only version available, they can’t just eliminate the previous version until they have historical data or at the very least have given people ample time to gather data on this new version
Google Analytics 4 is still a work in progress so we have yet to see the finished product. I’m sure the engineers at Google will tackle some of the cons noted above, but given that GA4 uses a completely different model than its Universal Analytics predecessor there’s no way to merge them. The only solution would be to blend the data from both into a Google Data Studio dashboard.
This makes me hesitant to believe that GA4 is replacing Universal (GA3) anytime soon. You can’t effectively gauge performance without historical data and I don’t see Google forcing all users to rely on Google Data Studio to blend data. Still, it makes sense to start to familiarize yourself with this new version because at some point it will replace the last version.
Get Your Plan in Place for Upgrading to GA4
If you haven’t added a new Property for GA4 yet, I recommend it even just for testing. Google will walk you through the steps to get started with their “Setup Assitant.”
If you’re looking for more in-depth training check out this article.
Struggling with Analytics? We Can Help!
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