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Google Analytics 4 – Future-proof tracking

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Earlier than expected, Google made its first version of the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) available in October 2020. The new GA4 was originally announced for 2021. According to Google, one of the main reasons is the changed data protection situation due to the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in America.

By virtue of the early publication, GA4 can already be used in productive operations, but experts expect the full range of functions in the end of 2021 at the earliest. Concurrently, the existent version of Universal Analytics (UA) will no longer be developed by Google.  

What does that mean specifically for you?

We recommend all companies to start a parallel implementation. Thus, you can use the advantages of the enhanced measurement in advance and build up a solid database for GA4 for the future. A retrospective recording or a link to your old UA data sources is not possible. Even if GA4 is still under development, you can already benefit from many advantages today.

What is new in Google Analytics 4?

An important technical innovation in Google Analytics 4 is the ability to record anonymous user behavior in a GDPR-compliant manner without the use of cookies (cookieless tracking). Until now, users had to be given the option of rejecting corresponding analysis cookies using a cookie consent tool.

Further changes are the switch from session-based tracking to user-based tracking (a different type of counting) and the change from page views as a standard metric to an event-based system. Everything that users do on your website is now recorded as an event, including when a page is accessed.

Underneath its surface, Google has integrated new machine learning algorithms to enable a more precise analysis of the data and to be able to add missing data. The simple real-time analysis dashboard from Universal Analytics has been replaced by a much more complex one that offers extensive evaluation options in real time. In addition, the reporting functions have been greatly expanded to gain even deeper insights from the data collected.

Start future-proof in parallel operation!

If Universal Analytics is already integrated into your website via gtag.js or you are using Google Tag Manager, you can create a new Google Analytics 4 property without further adjustment or update your existing property (the old one and its functionality remain). With this parallel operation, you can continue to use your usual web analysis, but you are already collecting data and experience with the new GA4.
In the long term, a change to GA4 is inevitable, as only this version is actively being further developed by Google and, with the dispense of cookies, users can also be tracked anonymously who would otherwise disagree to the data collection. Standard metrics can be captured instantly. However, advanced functions such as submitted forms, downloads or the tracking of e-commerce data must be implemented separately in Google Analytics 4.

Your company is ready for GA4 if ...

  • Google Analytics or the Google Tag Manager are already in use.
  • Future analysis in GA4 should refer to data from today.
  • detailed insights are to be determined from your collected data.
  • You want to reduce the analysis effort through AI-supported forecast reports or automatic anomaly detection.
  • You want to analyze usage behavior in real time, e.g., to observe the success of campaigns, promotions or newsletters live.
  • several touchpoints are to be evaluated (cross-device tracking).
  • You want to analyze your users in accordance with GDPR (cookieless tracking).

Are you unsure or do you need help? We gladly support you.