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time is ticking: google analytics 4 is coming

Since the first iteration in 2005, Google Analytics (GA) has played a vital role in the digital space. Offering unparalleled insight into user behaviour and campaign performance, Google Analytics should be in the toolbox of every single marketer and online business. If you have a website and you think GA isn’t something that impacts you, ask your SEO, PPC or marketing team.  

Much like everything, Google Analytics must roll with the times. After 18 years in the game, GA has seen multiple changes and updates to ensure they are evolving with an ever-complex digital landscape. While some updates require little input from those who use the platform, their latest change is set to shake things up like never before. 

In this article we’ll discuss the move from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and why, if you haven’t already, migrating should be top of your agenda... 

kiss goodbye to universal analytics 

Unless you’ve been walking around with blinkers on, it’s likely you’ll have heard the expression ‘the sun is setting on Universal Analytics’ and the much-anticipated change to Google Analytics 4. And while this update has been in the works for years, many people remain blissfully unaware of just how important the move to GA4 actually is.  

why the big change?  

There are many reasons but one of the main factors is undoubtedly the shift towards more privacy online. As the world moves away from cookies, third-party data will soon become a thing of the past. While this is a great thing to ensure our individual online privacy, it does make things a little trickier for those on the other side of the web. UA relies heavily on third-party data, meaning, as we transition away from this, new platforms must fill the gap.  

Welcome to the chat, Google Analytics 4. 

Originally announced in 2019, GA4 is the latest form of analytics. Geared towards user privacy and complying with GDPR, GA4 will use machine learning in a bid to provide better insights and will integrate across other Google marketing products. Alongside this, the new platform has oodles of new features all geared towards providing marketers with better tools to excel online.  

so, what’s all the fuss about? 

The change from UA to GA4 isn’t as simple as a quick upgrade. The very core of what the two platforms do and the type of data, features and reporting they offer are vastly different. Leaving it until last minute to migrate, or even leaving your fate in the hands of Google’s automatic migration, means you're starting on the back foot come 1st July.  

  • It’s all in the data: The biggest change comes from the need for online privacy and the shift from cookies and third-party data. GA4 will move completely away from this meaning how you use the platform and your paid media campaigns need to be stripped back and readjusted based on the change. In essence, how you market to your audience must change. 

  • Get acquainted with GA4: Leaving it until D-day to become familiar with the platform means you have nothing to work with from the offset. With a new interface, new features and a huge change of focus, moving to GA4 is more than just a simple switch. Without taking the time to learn the platform and all its wonderful new ways of working, you’re diving in headfirst come 1st July without any room for error. 

  • Looking back helps you move forward: Historical data cannot be carried over from UA to GA4, meaning the longer you leave it the less data you have to work with. With the deadline fast approaching, you’re already late in the game to gather any new data on GA4 before 1st July. But all hope is not lost, you can download your historical data from UA giving you some sort of benchmark for future data. Those who choose to auto migrate and fail to collect any data will be completely in the dark when UA ceases to exist. 

If you’re still feeling puzzled by the change and why it matters so much, we spoke with our Head of Paid Media Tom Walkden to provide us with some insight on the issue: 

“There’s a whole heap of information out there about the move to GA4 and what this means. It can feel overwhelming for people to wade through the noise and get to grips with what it actually means for their business.  

The way I've been explaining it to our clients is very simple, imagine you’re on a train and the train is your paid media campaigns. You've got into a good rhythm; you're flying down the tracks and building momentum. The tracks are Universal Analytics Goals, powering all the smart bidding that you feed into your campaigns.  

Then one day, the tracks simply stop. But your train keeps going, without guidance. We don’t need to explain the obvious impact this would have, and that's what will happen to your campaigns if you don’t prioritise the move to GA4.  

It would have been ideal for people to make the switch last July to provide year on year data. But it's better late than never and I would urge businesses to re-evaluate their priorities and start taking GA4 seriously.” 

don’t panic, we’re a google premier partner  

Analytics and all things Google are second nature to us. As a Google Premier Partner, we’re in the top 100 agencies in the UK. How does this help you? Alongside the fact it means Google recognises us for our top-notch work, it also means they provide us with extra tools in our belt to ensure we are giving our clients the very best information and support. 

We're working closely with our clients to ensure the transition to GA4 is as seamless as can be and that come 1st July, they are ahead of the curve with their paid media campaigns.  

If you’ve not started to consider how Google Analytics 4 will impact your business and have left it until now to get the wheels in motion, get in touch. Our team of experts can put a plan in place to ensure that your move to GA4 is as painless as can be.  

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