Just when you thought you were a wizard at Google Analytics…Google decides to launch a brand new version of Analytics! Great. Actually, while this change can be a shock to some – it is 100 percent necessary in today’s changing environment of increased privacy.
The snippet below is taken from theofficial announcement from Googleand explains the major difference between the Google Analytics you have grown accustomed to, and the new version, Google Analytics 4.
“…It has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms. It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on Analytics even as industry changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers create gaps in your data.The new Google Analytics will give you the essential insights you need to be ready for what’s next.”
Sign me up.
The new Google Analytics is the default experience for new properties that are created. To get started with the new Google Analytics for an existing property, you’ll need to create a “Google Analytics 4 Property.”
Here is a link to a Google-provided set-up guide:https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/10089681#start
What’s Different? Everything.
The focus of Google Analytics 4 appears to be mostly for Ecommerce as well as those who have a website and a mobile app. GA4 allows you to bring all of the data together in one seamless tool. For homebuilders it is certainly less intuitive than what we are used to, especially given that we (IMO) typically need less tracking/tech compared to Ecommerce or other industries who might see substantially more leads & sales volume.
For this blog post I am going to attempt to find comparable reports we are used to seeing in Google Analytics to show the differences.
Report #1: Traffic Acquisition Report, screenshot below.
As you can tell – this is quite a bit different. What is great about this report is you can see the line graph for each traffic source – very convenient for quickly seeing a spike in traffic or decrease in traffic from where you advertise. Though, you can also set this up in Google Data Studio.
Take a look at the table beneath the line graph. Notice how the metrics are different? Where is Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, Session Duration and the rest we are all so familiar with?! Google Analytics 4 fundamentally includes ALL events as “equal”. In Google Analytics the Pageview is the standard “event” in which users or sessions are counted against. Compared to GA 4, users & sessions are counted against all Events. Events are essentially any action that take place on the website.
Report #2: All Events, see screenshot below.
Continuing the thought on Events, see the report below for the “All Events” report. All of these events are automatically tracked based on what the Google Analytics Tag can read on your website. As you can see below the standard “page_view” event does account for the majority of events. Remember the page_view event is what the traditional Google Analytics tracks for the majority of reports as well as bounce rates, pages/session & session duration.
Report #3: Analysis Hub, see screenshot below.
The Analysis Hub essentially allows you to create your own reports just like you would within Google Data Studio. There are default reports available in the “Template Gallery”. It seems promising – however I’d still advise to use Google Data Studio as we can pull in the metrics we are used to using to make decisions for marketing.
Is Google Analytics 4 worth the learning curve and time investment? No.
The traditional Google Analytics is not going anywhere. Google Analytics 4 is designed to bring together data from websites and apps into a single resource. I do recommend setting up a Google Analytics 4 property – however there is not a need to spend time learning the differences. For better reporting and deeper analysis than what Google Analytics offers, I’d recommend spending your time working in Google Data Studio.