Google has announced that from July 1, 2023 the only existing version of Google Analytics will be Google Analytics 4 (GA 4). Universal Google Analytics will be discontinued and will not record any data after July 1, 2023. If you want to retain your year long data then you will need to switch to GA 4 by June end.
The GA 4 comes with many new innovative features and covers the important trends which affect SEO. The main being the policies regarding user privacy and the use of smartphone applications.
The features of GA 4 are as follows:
1. It uses a data driven distribution model which is available on GA 360. This option will now be available to all accounts. This will help to get insights into your audience and the touchpoints will not be missed out in attribution.
2. It allows brands to build a holistic view of the customer journey and aid advanced analysis. Brands can do privacy-safe tracking and modelling and see the touchpoints which are lost due to GDPR and browser changes (including ITP).
3. GA 4 model uses artificial intelligence and machine learning and this helps to fill in the gaps in data. It gives better insights into the customer behaviour.
4. You can track the website and mobile applications and this allows you to better understand the customer lifecycle. You can combine data from the website as well as the mobile applications in a single property.
5. GA 4 properties allow you to customise events and easily implement cross-domain measurements without manually editing a website code.
6. It uses a more flexible measurement model which is based on events and parameters.
7. It has built-in roll-up reporting where data can be reported in aggregate form from multiple digital properties (website, mobile app). You can view the data in one reporting view and see the aggregate performance metrics. The reporting is more reliable and accurate.
8. It helps you to understand the customer’s purchase journey across platforms and thereby offer a better user experience. It allows you to measure the number of customers who start their journey on the mobile app before they visit the website to make a purchase. You can find the marketing channels that get the most customers across the website and the mobile app.
9. In GA 4 the web and the app use the same schema. Its roll-up reporting allows cross-device and cross-platform tracking.
10. It has an built-in ‘enhancement measurement’ feature which allows automatic tracking of certain types of events without any additional coding. You can automate tracking of these events: scroll tracking, outbound clicks, site search tracking, video engagement and track file downloads.
11. It allows you to modify any event or create a new event based on the occurrence of other events and parameters.
12. It provides a ‘DebugView Report’ through which you can validate your analytics for a website or a mobile app within the reporting interface. This makes debugging simple.
13. Its reporting view provides a new set of metrics that can accurately track user engagement with websites / apps. Some of the metrics are Engagement Rate, Engaged Sessions, Average Engagement Time and Engaged Sessions per user.
14. In GA 4 the IP anonymization is built-in and you cannot disable it. It does not log IP addresses. It allows disabling the collection of Google signal data on a per-region basis. In this you can set the ‘User and Event data retention’ setting to a maximum of 14 months.
15. GA 4 has the free connection to BigQuery, this feature is available with GA 360. Now you can access raw GA data and run SQL queries on them.
16. It has a new set of reports called the ‘Explorations’ which allow you to do advanced data analysis. The analysis techniques supported are Free Form Report, Cohort exploration report, Funnel exploration report, Segment overlap report, User explorer report, Path exploration report and User lifetime report.
17. With GA 4 you can track conversions easily by marking any logged event as a conversion.
18. You can create conversions based on Pageviews, Events, Duration and Pageviews / Screen per session. You can create conversions based on multiple conditions.
19. Users may open a website in a tab and then move to another tab to some work and come back. GA 4 can capture this kind of behaviour. GA 4 sessions can start with or without pageview / screenview. It can track user engagement more accurately.
20. You can easily set up cross-domain tracking and no additional tagging is required.
21. GA supports 50 event scope custom dimensions and 50 event scope custom metrics. It also supports 25 user scoped custom dimensions.
22. With GA 4 you can use Predictive metrics. They are derived using the machine learning algorithm which measures the conversion progress. You can use this metric to identify users and their actions on your website / app that would most likely lead to a purchase. This can help you discover more users who may want to purchase in the next 7 days. The Predictive metric supported are Purchase probability, Churn probability and Revenue prediction.
23. GA 4 has improved funnel creations and analysis capabilities. The GA 4 Funnel Exploration report provides a visualisation called the ‘Trended funnel’ which helps you to determine how the funnel is performing over time. You can create a funnel on the fly in GA 4.
24. GA 4 focuses more on the user journeys and the events triggered by them. You can measure user interactions across all platforms.
25. GA 4 has better data visualisation capabilities. These capabilities come from the various Exploration reports through which you can create reports.