Prepare For Google Analytics 4 And The End Of Universal Analytics
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is here! It is the latest iteration of Google's analytics product and has been in beta for a while. Earlier this month, Google announced that new analytics accounts will now be created using GA4. To prepare for this transition, review the changes mentioned below:
Users and Events
In Universal Analytics, users and events were the same things. Google Analytics 4 has made their separate categories. Users are people who visit your website or app, while events are actions they perform (such as clicking something).
The event object is the same as it was in Universal Analytics, so if you've already set up event tracking scripts for your site or app then most of what you need to do is update those scripts with new parameters that reflect the new user/event structure.
Event Functions are used to define the actions that you want to track. For example, if you want to track when a user clicks on an image or video thumbnail on your website, you can use an Event Function for this purpose. You can also use Event Functions for events such as eCommerce transactions and social sharing activities.
Google Analytics provides several built-in types of event tracking that provide a variety of event definitions:
Clickthroughs - A clickthrough occurs whenever a user clicks on an element without interacting with any other elements prior to clicking it. This includes clicks within links, buttons, and other elements that trigger navigation through pages or lead users out of your site or app (e.g., purchases).
Outbound Links - An outbound link is triggered when a user follows another URL from their current page to another page on the same site (i..e., internal linking), or when they follow a URL from one site onto another site (i..e., external links).
Pageviews - A pageview occurs whenever someone opens up a new browser window containing an entire web page without viewing any other pages since starting up their browser session; however, it excludes images/videos unless they are clicked directly by the visitor before loading fully into viewable space onscreen
Event Parameters and Attributes
In the past, you could only send data to Google Analytics using events. However, there were two different ways to go about doing this: you could use event parameters or event attributes.
Event Parameters - This is the data that is passed to the event as a result of an interaction with your website. It can include things such as a user’s name and email address, what they clicked on, how long they stayed on your page, etc.
Event Attributes - This is the data associated with an interaction with your website that doesn’t change from one interaction to another (for example: if someone visits your homepage and then later visits a specific product page).
User Properties and Audiences
You might be wondering what the difference is between User Properties and Audiences, or if it even matters in your case.
Let's start with some definitions:
User Properties are used to define the user's profile and can include things like their gender, age range and location. They can also be used to define a user's interest area (e.g., sports) or behavior on your site (e.g., whether they’re new or returning).
Audiences are sets of users defined by their shared characteristics (e.g., people who have visited pages X, Y and Z). The data they contain is generally more specific than that contained within a User Property
Migration from Universal Analytics
The good news is that you have time to prepare for the update. Universal Analytics will be supported until September 2020. However, it’s important that you prepare now so that your implementation of Google Analytics 4 is a smooth one and doesn’t cause any long-term issues with your analytics data or reporting.
Universal Analytics was created as a temporary solution to address some of the issues with Google Analytics 2.0 (GA2). GA2 was released in 2009 but did not include support for mobile devices, which caused significant problems for marketers when using this version of Google Analytics because more than half their traffic was coming from mobile devices at the time! To fix this issue, Universal Analytics was released in 2012 as an interim solution until GA3 could be released along with support for mobile devices and other enhancements such as enhanced eCommerce tracking capabilities (as well as some new features).
Google Analytics 4 is here, and all new analytics accounts will be created in this format.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you've likely heard that Google Analytics 4 was released on March 8th. If not, then check out our post about it here.
If you already use Google Analytics (and if not, why?), you'll probably be aware that there are two versions: Universal Analytics and Classic/Web. When Universal Analytics was released in 2012, it replaced Classic/Web as the standard for all new accounts created on the platform. The old version of GA is still available if you want to create an account for some reason (maybe for historical data), but new accounts will always be created with Universal Analytics enabled by default from now on.
Google Analytics 4 is here, and all new analytics accounts will be created in this format. If you are currently using Universal Analytics, Google recommends that you migrate as soon as possible to avoid any potential data loss. The only exception is if your current Universal Analytics account has been set up with BigQuery integration. In that case, Google recommends waiting for their next announcement about BigQuery support for Google Analytics 4 before migrating.