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Say hello to GA4, the future of data tracking.

Say goodbye to Universal Analytics, and hello to the next generation of data tracking with Google Analytics 4 or GA4. This innovative approach from Google was designed to be the future of data measurement—and will be replacing the current version of Universal Analytics as it sunsets into retirement on July 1, 2023. Not exactly sure what this means for your business? That’s okay, we’re here to help.

First, to fully unlock the power of data with your analytics tool, you need to understand what its benefits are, how to use it, and ways you can maximize its offerings. What makes GA4 such an advancement in data collection and analysis? Not only does it offer some of the same attributes that people already love about Universal Analytics, but it also hosts a multitude of brand-new features created to fully take advantage of what’s possible using big data and machine learning. And while Universal Analytics relies on sessions-based data—meaning a visitor’s series of page views—GA4 is driven by event-based data in the form of page views and clicks, forms submitted, and custom events defined by the user. This change opens up the door to more data, insights, and the ability to track almost anything and everything from web traffic to beyond.

GA4 hosts a variety of unique advantages; see the most important ones below:

  • Ability to track website and app data across platforms easier with direct integrations to media platforms that help drive actions on your website or app. GA4 allows you to track a visitor’s journey from start to finish, no matter their device or platform.
  • Advanced privacy controls, including cookieless measurement. In addition, GA4 does not log or store IP addresses.
  • Better measurement with an event-based data model versus the current session-based data. By tracking events, or the ways a user is interacting with a brand, GA4 offers more accuracy and flexibility in reporting, giving a more complete picture of a visitor’s interactions with your brand.
  • Predictive capabilities for easier guidance within a simpler model. GA4 uses machine learning to combine data from different sources for better insights, meaning its results will only become more accurate over time.
  • Nearly unlimited storage capabilities with GA4’s integration with BigQuery. Export your data into BigQuery for nearly unlimited storage and advanced data analysis.

With GA4 being such a step in a different direction from Universal Analytics, it can be a challenging task to know where to start when setting up or switching over to a GA4 property for the first time. In order to best leverage powerful year-over-year insights, it’s recommended to set up GA4 a full year in advance of Universal Analytic’s departure date in June 2023. With this article being written in November of 2022, that means now is time to switch over if you have not yet.

If you haven’t, don’t worry—it’s not too late set up GA4. To make this process easier, we’ve compiled a checklist of steps for consideration to ensure your data tracking is up to date and ready for what’s to come:

  • Step 1: Set up or switch over to a GA4 property.
    Google has detailed articles on how to set up GA4 for your websites or apps. If you’re setting up a GA4 property for a site that’s already using Universal Analytics, check out the GA4 Setup Assistant Wizard article to help you get started.
  • Step 2: Utilize automatic event-tracking and custom events.
    A custom event can be phone number clicks, form submissions, specialized video views, and more. If you are a previous Universal Analytics user, this is when you can map your existing custom events, goals, and conversions into GA4.
  • Step 3: Keep your business goals top of mind.
    When finished, reassess (and continue to regularly) your account from a marketing perspective to ensure your overarching business goals and desired outcomes are being met.

Are you ready to take the next step with GA4, but still are looking for some guidance along the way? Download our infographic below for a quick reference guide of GA4 and it’s impact on analyzing data. If you still have questions, or need a step in the right direction, reach out to our team at 19ideas.com/connect, we’d love to help.

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