Get Ready for GA4

Google is making another change. If you have not yet read or heard the acronym “GA4”—you will. This acronym stands for the iconic search engine’s dramatic update to both the name and operation of “Google Analytics 4.” The sooner you’re prepared for this change, the better, as this will this will be Google’s only proverbial game in town for tracking and measuring marketing performance. What must you know? Is there an alternative?

The change to GA4

The story behind Google’s need to make radical changes truly underlines the “worldwide” part of the term “worldwide web.” Universal Analytics (UA) is Google’s current model for measurement and tracking. As reported by Scott Clark in CMS Newswire, DSB, the Austrian-based data authority, ruled that UA—in all circumstances—violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This has necessitated Google’s response to make particularly strong changes to its technology for analyzing data—which some might even call an overhaul—to GA4. What can be expected? (For a primer on GA4, watch this explanation from Jim Pasqualone, Senior Director of Development at EGC.)

How does GA4 work?

Through GA4, a single user journey is created that associates all data from the same user ID. This user ID is implemented across all reports, insights, and analyses—without the need for a separate User-ID reporting view. The web and app data will use the same schema, which in turn will create stronger tracking across devices and platforms. This strengthened connection is the answer to the initial complaints by the DSB, which focuses on an issue that has plagued users since the invention of the Internet: Privacy.

Privacy first

Yes, online privacy is the number one concern everywhere, and Google’s transition to GA4 is in also line with its plan to do away with third-party tracking. Russell Ketchum, Director of Product Management at Google Analytics states that businesses must prioritize user privacy as they make necessary adjustments to reach customers. Unlike UA, which has a comparatively general set of privacy-related controls, privacy will in fact be at the very core of GA4.

Countdown to 2023

While marketers have until the end of 2023 to replace their third-party strategies with alternatives like first-party data, Google Analytics 4 will completely take effect on July 1 of that year. Time is therefore tighter for marketers and data analysts who must be ready to make this transition from UA. Despite the benefits and stronger privacy that GA4 will provide to users, this major migration—which must be accomplished in short time frame—has been met with a lot of pushback.

Marketers are unhappy and uneasy about the transition from UA to GA4

The major shift to GA4 is creating a lot of inconvenience and many unanswered issues for marketers who were accustomed to using UA. As listed by Mr. Clark, these issues include:

  • The data between UA and GA4 will not be directly comparable.

  • All existing reports set in UA will no longer be updated after the official launch of GA4 on July 1, 2023.

  • GA4 is based on events, unlike UA—which was based on measurements of pageviews.

  • Tags established in Google Tag Manager will need either updating or replacing.

  • As with reports that will not be updated, new Google Analytics properties will need to be created for storing data, as older properties are being deleted.

  • A major difference between the interfaces of GA4 and UA will require marketers and data analysts to invest a lot of time and effort in readjusting by relearning.

So, if you use the current Google Analytics model of UA for your tracking needs, you’ll have your work cut out for you in transitioning to GA4. Many marketers will make—or at least attempt—this change. On the other hand (to answer the second question in the introduction of this blog), there is an alternative.

Meet Raydeus Local

If you are not familiar with Raydeus Local—a state-of-the-art analytics platform that specializes in retail, franchise, and multi-unit location marketing—now is the time to find out. (Keep in mind: July 2023 is not that far off.)

Monitored and curated by a team of retail marketing experts, one particular service of note that’s offered by Raydeus Local is the Digital Dashboard, which can connect all of your marketing campaigns in one place and have round-the-clock information on the performance of your business ready for you at any time. Additionally, metrics from every type of campaign—social media, paid search, and email marketing, among others—are yours for the viewing.

So, if the prospect of making the transition to GA4 seems too overwhelming a task—whether because of time restrictions or complexity—the Digital Dashboard service of Raydeus Local may be the alternative you’ll not only want—but need.

Interested to learn more? Raydeus Local can help. Contact us to learn more.