Web marketing

Why web analytics is about to adopt Google’s GA4 platform

Calling all marketers: have you made the transition from Google’s Universal Analytics system to its current platform, GA4? and if not, why not?

There are many reasons to complete the migration now. Google is set to retire its market-leading Universal Analytics version on July 1, 2023. Meanwhile, GA4 is a very different system, and marketers will need time to learn the new interface and methods. data collection.

Additionally, according to Google, data collected in Universal Analytics will remain accessible for at least six months only after the expiration date. The sooner GA4 starts tracking data, the more data will be available for historical comparison once GA4 becomes the only option.

Google’s move to GA4 is the latest in a series of major developments that continue to transform web analytics and the entire digital marketing landscape. The demand for greater consumer data privacy protection is fueling many changes and is the subject of DAC’s recent white paper in Ad Age, “The Marketer’s Guide to Web Analytics in a Privacy-First World.”

Better tracking of user behavior

The new features of GA4 should significantly improve the marketer’s ability to collect and analyze customer data. And for that reason, GA4 can help brands fill the void of lost third-party data, which includes clearing cookies from Google’s Chrome browser and unique IDs from major mobile advertising platforms.

While Universal Analytics’ session-based model primarily tracks website visits and page views, GA4’s event-based platform allows marketers to track user behavior with up to 50 different settings. This promises to provide a much more detailed picture of a customer’s web interactions, including the steps leading up to a conversion or a sale.

Additionally, GA4’s new e-commerce tools, deeper integration with Google Ads, and the ability to connect web traffic to mobile app data all provide a more comprehensive view of the end-to-end customer journey.

Button, text, color, URL: a GA4 leader

Google’s old system limited event tracking to three basic parameters: category, action, and label. In GA4, marketers can dive much deeper into the descriptive actions that occur during a particular session.

“Any action you want to track can be an event, whether it’s visiting a page, clicking a button, or watching a video,” said Mario Lyn, web analytics manager at Proove Intelligence. DAC.

While Universal Analytics defines a conversion around a single action, such as clicking a button, GA4 can attribute multiple characteristics to that same action, such as button text, color, page URL, etc. . Careful analysis of this data would reveal which variables within the button click were most effective.

“With Universal Analytics, you show the screen and it’s the same type of data for everyone,” Lyn said. “But with GA4 you can add more layers on top and more traits to that individual data. So you have to think a lot more about what you collect and how you collect it.

Strategies to sustain the organization

With GA4 comes both greater responsibility and greater opportunity for marketers to take ownership of their data and overall web analytics practice. According to Dan Temby, Senior Vice President, Technology and Analytics, DAC Group, today’s marketers need to “fill the intelligence and loyalty void” lost by shrinking third-party data.

“All the changes we’re seeing due to privacy legislation are forcing people to go down the road of a truly integrated marketing technology stack, as opposed to a series of independent platforms designed to do independent things,” he explained.

“Traditionally, web analytics has existed outside of advertising functions such as data management platforms and demand-side platforms,” ​​Temby noted. “Now everyone is discussing the need for an integrated series of signals versus an integrated customer profile. The only way to achieve this is through an interconnected martech stack, and web analytics is the cornerstone of this ability.

Organizations have other ways to prepare for any additional privacy-related changes to come. They can, for example, build stronger data relationships with publishers, who have access to demographic and behavioral information about site visitors that marketers may not have. They can also work more closely with their own data scientists and engineers, not only on implementing GA4, but also on new statistical approaches for budget decisions and ROI calculations in an online digital media environment. evolution.

Last but not least, marketers need to focus on what they can control. Cookie-free advertising solutions come and go (remember FLOC?). It’s not necessarily a good idea to try to get ahead of the next big thing. By the time you do, it might not be that big.

Ultimately, marketers will always find ways to talk to people interested in their products. Understanding who those consumers are in the first place, regardless of channel, is about as future-proof as marketing can get.