Google Analytics 4 Promises Powerful New Insight – Start Early to Ensure Your Eventual Migration is More Gain Than Pain

The launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is set to be the biggest shake-up in analytics since the arrival of UA in 2012, promising powerful new insights, including:

  • Combined website and app tracking in a single property will fix attribution issues and improve understanding of cross-platform customer journeys.
  • New ‘Analysis’ reports will deliver detailed insight, which was previously only available to GA 360 users.
  • Free connection to Big Query will provide access to raw GA data and enable you to run custom SQL queries
  • An ‘enhanced measurement’ feature offers automatic tracking of certain events – from scrolling to video engagement – without the need for additional coding.

Despite its promise, however, it’s hard to imagine anyone fully switching from GA4 just yet – despite the removal of its ‘beta’ tag, it simply isn’t yet ready for commercial use. For instance, ecommerce reporting isn’t fully ready, which is why it’s best to continue with UA for now.


Track in Parallel

But that doesn’t mean GA4 is something that can be put off and ignored for the time being.  In fact, I strongly recommend setting up a GA4 view now and running it in parallel with your existing UA set-up, for a whole host of reasons:

  • Historical data: The new reporting view in GA4 cannot collect data retrospectively – only from the date when your data stream(s) are connected to the new property – so you’ll be starting from ground zero if you leave your migration to the last minute.
  • Get your set-up right: A set-up wizard should make creating a new GA4 property reasonably straightforward, but this would also be a good time to reassess and tidy up existing Event structures – and learning to navigate a new interface is going to take time.
  • Learn the language: GA4 ushers in a new measurement model focused on users and events rather than sessions and page views. The technical details have been covered in minute detail elsewhere but certainly shouldn’t be underestimated – and getting to grips with such sweeping change will be akin to learning a new language.

  • Benchmark new insights: GA4 will deliver a host of new insights, like cross-platform tracking, but also replace familiar metrics - bounce rate will be replaced with an entirely new ‘engagement rate’ for instance.  But the true power of analytics data is in our ability to derive meaning from the numbers – to understand what they are telling us about real world customer behaviour.

    That’s where running both UA and GA4 properties will really come into its own. UA will provide an essential, well-understood point of reference against which to benchmark and uncover the meaning behind unfamiliar GA4 insights.

In summary, I can’t stress enough the importance of setting up a new GA4 property sooner rather than later - to explore the advantages, avoid the pitfalls, and get to grips with the new measurement model, so you can rely on GA4 with confidence when the time comes.

- Jimmy Montgomery, Senior Data Analyst


Leave Nothing to Chance

At Biglight, we’re already helping a number of brands to navigate this process, which for some has proven confusing and uncertain – helping them to double and triple check that GA4 is ready to deliver reliable, useful insight.

So, if you need support with anything from initial set-up to final migration and beyond, get in touch – we’re more than happy to help.