Apr 20, 2022
It is a small revolution preparing for all people who work directly or indirectly in digital: the transition to the new generation of the data analysis tool Google Analytics 4. Expert Augustin Delporte, moderator a free online conference on May 13 and training on 2 June and 4 on this topic sheds light on these issues.
What explains the increase in news about the move to Google Analytics 4 lately?
Augustine Delporte: In October 2020, Google opened the new version of Google Analytics to the general public, which previously only existed in beta. From now on, this is the version suggested by default when you start using this tool.
The question that remained, however, was: what would happen to the previous version, Universal Analytics? We just got the answer: Google announced it would no longer be usable by July 2023. In other words, there is no choice anymore, everyone has to switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by then.
How complex is this transition?
ADVERTISEMENT: This does not necessarily have to be a technical question. In itself, it is enough to install the new version and configure it in such a way that the data is collected. No, the main problem is that these two versions are not compatible with each other, you have to create a new property.
We are starting from scratch with Google Analytics 4, it is impossible to recover the data and history from Universal Analytics. That’s why I recommend that you don’t wait any longer and upgrade to GA4 as soon as possible. It is very useful from a marketing point of view to analyze the data from one year to the next. The sooner the switch is made, the sooner it is possible again.
And are there any major differences in usability between these two versions per se?
ADVERTISEMENT: Yes. I will also address these topics and address the fears expressed during the free Midi Express conference on May 13. The changes are many and far-reaching because it is no longer the same data model and the parameters will have to change. For example, events, which enabled the collection of personalized data with Universal Analytics to analyze interactions on a platform, have become even more central with GA4 and their operation has changed.
How to explain this massive overhaul of Google Analytics?
ADVERTISEMENT: We could make the analogy between a petrol car that you want to switch to electric: you can’t just change the engine, you have to rethink everything. It’s kind of the same with Google Analytics, which had to revise its data model to meet the new requirements.
The aim is to comply much more with international and, above all, European rules, which are the most far-reaching in this area. Canada will do it too. It was therefore necessary to get rid of version 3 which was outdated and was still more than 10 years old. So GA4 is an answer to privacy issues. The tool no longer stores IP addresses, user data expires after 14 months and will focus less on cookies.
What is the first reaction from users who have tried Google Analytics 4?
ADVERTISEMENT: I’d say most don’t really like this new version. The interface is certainly simplified, but there are many elements that we cannot find. As always it will take some getting used to.
Personally I like it. I think it brings a new granularity, it’s a new way to collect personalized data, and it gives more options in terms of privacy management.
So yes, there are a few changes that will be difficult for some people to accept. For example, the analysis of the bounce rate (percentage of users who only consult one page on a site) will disappear. This information has been central to some managers’ strategy, but from now on, web sessions will no longer be defined in the same way.
It will be replaced by a more positive metric: the engagement rate. Which corresponds to one of the following 3 actions: stay on a page for more than 10 seconds, have made a conversion or have visited at least two pages. It performs more or less the same function, but many industry professionals will have to adapt.
What are GA4’s other notable new features?
ADVERTISEMENT: I find this makes it easier and more attractive to have custom reports, which previously only existed in the paid version. In addition, GA4 includes a larger layer of artificial intelligence with the ability to obtain predictive statistics, reserved for e-commerce data for now. But this is likely to evolve very quickly with new features to be added in the future. Finally, the interface has been simplified.
What is your recommendation to Google Analytics users?
ADVERTISEMENT: It is now necessary to start the migration as soon as possible. For my part I have been doing this since October 2020 and I can finally have historical data that I can analyze from year to year. In addition, the training I provide on this topic is now devoted only to Google Analytics 4.
Don’t miss Augustin Delporte’s free conference on this topic on May 13.
Nor his education: