Google Analytics 4 presents significant improvements compared to its predecessor, Universal analytics. It was developed around user privacy, machine learning, audience strategies, and changes coming to the digital industry (deprecation of 3rd party cookies and browser updates around privacy).
In the list below we will present you with some of the highlights GA4 has to offer. If these highlights do not get you excited yet, keep in mind that the list is non-exhaustive and that the GA4 roadmap has a lot more features coming up in the future!
1. Integrated reporting between Web and Mobile
The main highlight of Google Analytics 4 is the combined mobile and web data available in a single Analytics property, thanks to the event-driven data model and data streams. In Universal Analytics, you would have to look at these separately in different properties.
This is incredibly powerful as it enables more robust cross-device and cross-platform tracking and therefore a better understanding of a user journey and acquisition across devices.
2. Codeless event tracking
GA4 gives you the ability to track some events automatically, without having to add code or set up event tracking in Google Tag Manager. These predefined user activities include page views, scroll, outbound clicks, site search, video interactions and file download. To enable these, make sure that you have activated “Enhanced measurement” in your GA4 interface.
3. Live debugging with DebugView
GA4 now provides you a way to debug your site, directly from your Google Analytics interface using “DebugView” (you can find DebugView under the Configure tab in your GA4 property). It will show you what hits are being received by your property in real time. To enable this, you can launch the preview mode from GTM if you have it implemented on your site, or you can set “debug_mode” to true for your tags and GA4 configuration.
4. BigQuery exports
Previously only available to GA360 users, GA4 now gives you the ability to easily export all your data directly to BigQuery for advanced analysis, once you have set up your product linking. As mentioned, you will then be able to perform advanced analysis on your data, but also store your data in BigQuery (Google Cloud), join and enrich with other marketing data, visualize your data in tools like Tableau or PowerBI and use your data as input for machine learning models.
5. Display and Video 360 product linking
Recently released and for the first time in Google Analytics, an integration with Display and Video 360 is now available in GA4. This is a crucial integration for users of both platforms, as they will now benefit from the following advantages:
- Analytics audiences will be exportable to DV360.
- Conversions recorded in Analytics will be exportable to DV360.
- DV360 advertisers will appear as traffic source in your Analytics cross-channel reports
- DV360 campaign and cost data will be automatically imported in Analytics.
To benefit from the above, you will need to first complete your product linking in the admin section of your GA4 property.
6. Exploration Reports
Previously known as Analysis Hub, Exploration Reports represents a paradigm shift regarding the way reports are used in Google Analytics. Instead of having too many pre-defined reports which can feel inflexible at times as seen in Universal Analytics, GA4 rather provides you with fewer but simpler overview reports, as well as some AI-driven insights, while giving you the ability to build more advanced custom reports that suits your business needs, thanks to Exploration Reports.
You will benefit from predefined analysis techniques for your reports including Funnel Exploration, Segment Overlap, Path exploration and User explorer.
7. Granular user data controls
Google Analytics 4 also provides you with more options to manage your user data which helps advertisers comply with data regulations such as GDPR. For example, IP anonymisation is now enabled by default and user data retention is limited to 14 months (you can always save your data in BigQuery if you want to keep it for a longer time). You can also delete an individual user from Analytics directly from the user explorer if you receive a request to do so or use the data deletion requests in the admin panel, where you schedule data deletion for specific events or parameters, without having to delete more data than needed.
Sprout Performance is an independent digital performance & consulting agency and a certified Google Marketing Platform Partner.
For more information visit www.sproutperformance.co.za.