How Does Google Analytics 4 Work? 

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Vicki Nichols

Digital Marketing Lead

Exploring Google Analytics 4: The New Era of Analytics

If you’re nervous about Google Analytics 4 replacing UA then you’re not alone. This blog will explore how GA4 works and its core concepts. It will also cover a little of how it’s different from Universal Analytics.

Why are analytics so important?

In the digital landscape, data-driven insights play a vital role in shaping business strategies and optimising online performance. Google Analytics has always been a go-to tool for marketers and website owners hoping to understand their website users.

With the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a new era in analytics has begun. It’s a way of protecting your valuable data from privacy concerns and a fantastic way of measuring cross-platform and cross-device.

How Google Analytics 4 allows you to track cross-device

Understanding Google Analytics 4

What are the core concepts of GA4?

To understand how does Google Analytics 4 works, you first need to understand its core concepts of it.

1. Measuring behaviour using events

You’ll recognise a lot of UA in Google Analytics 4, however, the more recent release has shifted to focus on events. These are actions that a user will take on your website or app and could be anything from pageviews to purchases. It’s a fantastic way to get really granular in your analysis of user behaviour.

2. Unifying data to provide a fuller picture

Another key concept of GA4 is the emphasis on unifying data across platforms and devices. The customer journey has become more fragmented than ever, with more touchpoints than ever before.

Many users will often begin browsing using one device, before moving to another device to finish. They might even want to visit your website or apps multiple times before converting.

So how does Google Analytics 4 work to combine and unify this data? Well, the first step is to allow full reporting across devices. Using user identifiers it discovers, it unifies sessions together from the same user.

This way you’re able to follow a user’s full journey with all of your digital touchpoints. This means you’ll be able to analyse and measure the data across multiple devices and potential platforms.

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3. Utilising machine learning to fill in the gaps

Machine learning is also hugely focused on GA4. Google recognised that many times there will be measurement gaps where data falls through the cracks thanks to many reasons. This is why a big focus now is on automation and machine learning to help business owners and marketers fill those gaps.

4. A bigger focus on privacy than ever before

Lately, there has been more of an emphasis on protecting user privacy. And with that, you’ve seen less support from browsers with cookies.

So to future-proof analytics, GA4 now helps to combat concerns by anonymising IPs, disabling data collection and even allowing you to set data retention periods.

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Is GA4 better than Universal Analytics?

In many ways, yes. It has identified many common concerns from marketers and business owners about what might affect analytics in the future and has provided solutions to combat them. That’s not to say it is without fault though. It’s definitely fair to say that Universal Analytics offers a much ‘simpler’ look at things. However, when utilised correctly, Google Analytics 4 can be extremely powerful.

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