After what is an eternity for Google, there is a big change to the way that analytics will be measured and quantified in the coming years. Gone are the days of cookies and measuring bounce rates in Google Universal Analytics. Google recently launched Google Analytics 4 for measuring analytics for website properties. Many people are still confused as to why Google decided to make this change. Some users are finding it hard to give up their old data from Universal Analytics by Google. So is it worth the change? What do you need to know? We break it down for you in this quick tutorial.
What Are Analytics Anyway?
Analytics is data collected by your website with information about end users on the internet and puts that data into reports. Those reports are then used by businesses then use to profile their visitors. Analytics helps website owners track what end users are doing on their website. They then use what they find to develop marketing strategies.
What is an IP Address?
Google Analytics uses IP addresses to obtain geolocations of the visitors to your websites. Each device for each user is assigned a unique IP address that allows Google to collect information about them while protecting their identities online. For additional security, end users can mask their IP masking so that Google Analytics. Google then is only able to collect a portion of an IP address, protecting end users even more.
Analytics are Changing Due to Privacy Laws.
The reality of privacy laws in the United States and abroad has changed the way that Google collects data from internet users. Just like last month they announced an and to the remarketing ads that people have come to loathe at Christmas time when that watch you just bought your husband shows up on Facebook for weeks (example not of my own experiences…)
The way that our browsing habits, the way that they profile us has changed. The way they can use our information has changed and Google is changing with it. Thu,s the new Google Analytics 4 platform. This new platform is separate from the old version. It is designed with all the new privacy data laws in mind, and it is still very much a work in progress.
Google Universal Analytics is Not Going Away.
Users can still choose to gather analytical data from the more widely known Universal Analytics platform. In fact, Google has not set and end of life date for the older version of analytics, it has simply added an additional platform that is brand new for users to try.
Pro tip: create a new property for your analytics instead of merging your current property in the administration settings on Google Universal Analytics. If you merge, you lose your legacy data which still has a lot of value for site traffic.
Google Analytics 4 is a Shiny New Car.
If you choose to try the new Google Analytics 4 make sure you know that your data from the original does not migrate to the new. They are completely different systems. I was trying to think of an analogy for why the data does not transfer and the simple visual I can think of is that millage is unique to the car for which it was driven. When you buy a new car the milage starts at 1 again. The new platform is a new shiny car that leave the old car in the dust.
New Features You Should Be Aware of in Google Analytics 4.
Google announced it is getting rid of the cookie feature after increased pressure from privacy advocates. While Google is working hard to adjust to the new model it will base the data it collects on events and conversations more than the traditional way we have looked at data.
By changing the strategy to measure events rather than random clicks through sites Google is preparing for the” scarcity” of data in the future. Google will try to fill in this missing data by means of artificial learning, measuring results of actions rather than page views.
Cookies are no longer needed to map users with these changes, complying with the new regulations Google has faced. It streamlines result driven marketing efforts. The jury is out on how much the result driven data will be able to tell us about our potential customers.
What is Considered an “Event?”
“Events are user interactions with content that can be measured independently from a web-page or screen load. Downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to analyze as Events.”
In Google Universal Analytics, data was measured in page sessions. So if someone stayed on a page for longer than ten seconds for instance, the AI assumed that the page held some interest for the end user. One of the big measurements in the old analytics was called a “bounce” which measured the traffic that landed on your site and immediately left. It also assumed a lot when the page remained open, but no actions were taken by the user.
In the event driven model of the new Google Analytics 4, you solve this problem. Now, Google will be able to measures if your user scrolls down on a page. The longer your users read, the more interesting they may find the information on the site.
Why Do These New Measures Matter?
Google uses this data to then rate the quality of your website. Those who have deeper interactions from the user, will rank higher in the organic search results. The content you create matters, and Google is counting on you to develop content that people want to see.
Pageviews and bounce percentage are not great indicators of page quality. That is why Google is switching completely to the event-driven data model. We would not be surprised if these indicators phased out over time with the new platform.
Google Promises Deeper audiences and better integration with Google Ads and Apps
With GA4, Google offers online marketers the opportunity to better specify target audiences in general by grouping them into categories. For instance, now that we are not using data to re-market through Google Ads, we have to track specific events instead, like page scrolls and conversions.
Is Now the Right Time to Set Up Google Analytics 4?
Yes, but make sure that you keep your legacy data safe on the previous version too. That way you can monitor data the old way, while learning the new features on Google Analytics 4 as they continue to evolve.
If we have learned anything from Google, it is that they are never done making changes for improvements. The tools change, the data we can collect changes, and the way we use that data evolves with the tools. It can be exceedingly difficult to navigate, and you would not be alone in wanting some help understanding your options. We are here to help if you need it.
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