Google Analytics 4 marks a major shift in thinking about how web and app properties are tracked. Formerly called “App + Web properties” in beta, Google Analytics 4 builds upon the foundation of cross-device unified measurement introduced in July 2019.
Acknowledging the increasing overlap between web and mobile app development and content, as well as answering marketers’ needs for unified data, Google Analytics 4 seeks to eliminate the need for manual stitching and workarounds between platforms.
Previously, Analytics was divided between web properties (traditional Google Analytics) and Analytics for Firebase to specifically cater to app needs. Perhaps most importantly, Google Analytics 4 seeks to set property owners up with flexible, yet powerful analytics tools within the bounds of cookieless tracking and consent management.
In other words:
Google Analytics 4 is ready for the future.
Top 3 Benefits of Google Analytics 4
1. Unified Metric and Dimension Scopes
The single biggest advantage of Google Analytics 4 is the unified view between app and web.
Collection methodology is united to “events” with traditional pageviews on a more even scope with behavioral events. Prior versions of Google Analytics required separate tagging and separate properties, with inconsistent (by default) metrics and dimensions.
Keep in mind there won’t be historical or 24h+ data when you first get into the new GA 4, but you’ll start to see data populate over time.
2. Updated User Interface
Perhaps more importantly to marketers and web analysts, with the rescope of methodology, GA4 has brought several new reporting tools. The existing web and app reports have also been reorganized in the platform UI. Of course, the biggest benefit is the unified user view between app and website, but Google has also revamped their custom reporting tool to an “analysis hub”, which offers a bit more flexibility with custom and ad hoc reporting.
3. Embracing the Future of Data Collection and Analysis
Unified user journey and reporting across platforms has been a difficulty since the dawn of app and web development. Google has answered (finally!), and seems to understand that these needs will continue to increase, especially with the challenges of data collection.
As 3rd-party data collection is criticized by privacy advocates (and we observe certain platforms implement tracking restrictions), Google is prepared to shift towards using anonymized first-party data, along with consented tracking. By unifying properties, collection scopes, and recently announcing significant server-side capabilities, Google is shifting away from client-side dependencies.
When to Migrate to Google Analytics 4
As of October 14, 2020, Google Analytics 4 is now the default analytics platform, superseding the previous “Universal Analytics”.
The good news is that you can run the two in parallel, and Google has not yet announced deprecation dates for Universal Analytics. So, you’ve got time and your data isn’t going anywhere. However, many strategic questions need to be asked:
- Should you migrate to serverside tracking?
- Is your existing Tag Manager or gtag integration collecting all of the data it should?
- Is your app running the latest version of the Firebase SDK?
That said, since there are so many changes to the user interface and methodology, the sooner you start planning, the better. Even if basic code is set up on the site/app in parallel, it will allow users to familiarize themselves with the nuances of the new platform.
Requirements for Migrating to Google Analytics 4
A separate tracking code needs to be added to properties. This can be done within existing Google Tag Manager integrations, and there is no immediate need for code development on sites that are already running Tag Manager successfully.
Sites without Tag Manager will need to upgrade their site from analytics.js to gtag.js. We recommend considering Tag Manager if this is the case, for ease of implementation for all site tags (not just Analytics).
Existing Firebase SDK integrations will need to be updated to the latest version for Google Analytics 4, and apps without Firebase will need to be implemented.
Get in touch now to see how Tinuiti can help you assess readiness and migrate to GA4.