Hello to Google Analytics 4

Today, Google announced that App+Web is being rebranded to Google Analytics 4. This sets the stage for Google to push GA4 more mainstream. Here’s how:

  1. Google Analytics 4 is now the main property type in Google Analytics. If you are creating a new property in your account, by default, it will be a GA4 property. You’ll still have the option to create a Universal Analytics property if needed though.
  2. Google Analytics 4 is the future. We don’t have any timelines yet, and based on how the GA team phased out Classic Analytics (when they moved to Universal Analytics) over several years, there is still time, but GA4 is not only the new default, but also the place where new features and development are focused. 
  3. There are a lot of exciting new features rolling out this week, more on that below.

For an overview of what and why, check out this video on Getting Started with Google Analytics 4 Properties:

New features recently launched:

Ecommerce reporting: I wrote an extensive blog post on this several weeks ago, but it’s one of the exciting new features prominently featured in GA4. Also, the Google Analytics team just published a new Ecommerce Migration Guide to help you move or dual tag from Universal Analytics to GA4. Check it out here

Data Studio connector: Again, I wrote about this one a few weeks ago. It’s great to finally have a native connector to GA4 in Data Studio. Note that parameter reporting is not yet available, but hopefully we’ll see some additional releases here soon to make this even more useful. 

New features launching now (and over the next few weeks):

New Reporting & Navigation: This is a huge improvement to GA4 and makes reporting look and feel a bit more like what we as Google Analytics users have come to know and love. You can also check out this Youtube video for a walkthrough of the new UI. 

Event Editing & Synthesis: This is a really cool new feature that allows you to create new events from data already collected directly within the UI, adding a ton of flexibility to GA4 and helping to streamline implementation and reporting for businesses. 

Cross-Domain Measurement: Long awaited to hit GA4! And, you’ll be able to set this up within the GA UI, which makes it even easier than setting this up in Universal Analytics. 

Measurement Protocol : This feature has been highly requested since App+Web launched more than a year ago, so it’s exciting to finally see it coming in GA4. 

Migration tools: There is a new setup wizard that allows you to link an existing Universal Analytics property to either a new or existing GA4 property, depending on what you select. If you choose to create a new property, the wizard will create the GA4 property and use many of the settings you have in UA to get you started. If you are currently tagged with gtag.js for your Universal Analytics property, the wizard will also use a feature called Connected Site Tags (CST) to enable your gtag.js code to work for your GA4 property, so you don’t need to retag to start collecting data. Pretty cool! Check out this series of videos to walk you through the setup wizard. 

There is so much more to dig into about what is now available in Google Analytics 4, and I’ll be doing following up blog posts over the next couple of weeks diving into these new features in more detail, so stay tuned!

If you want to learn even more about Google Analytics 4, sign up for the KS Digital newsletter to stay up to date on KS Digital Academy’s new course offerings, I’ll be launching a course specifically on Google Analytics 4 early next year.  

Leave a Reply

5 Comments

  1. Thanks, Krista… Excellent post! If we migrate our existing GA Universal Analytics sites by connecting them to new GA4 properties, is there any downside? With GA4 and in using the Connected Site Tags will we still be collecting comparable metrics (under the previous measurement framework) for month over month and year over year comparison? Will the, now legacy, universal analytics properties reporting UIs and their APIs work as they have?

    • Krista

      Hey Glen!

      Creating a new GA4 property, either from scratch or through the upgrade/linking process, will create a net new GA4 property, but won’t impact data being collected in your Universal Analytics property. The idea of using the setup wizard and Connected Site Tags is to import as many of your UA settings as possible into GA4 and start collecting data immediately. If you are using GTM, you’ll be able to import the settings, but will need to do additional implementation to ensure you are collecting data for GA4. All in all, no downside, and it’s definitely recommended to start setting up a GA4 property now to collect data side by side your UA properties so you can get familiar with the new property type.

      Reach out if you want to chat more, I’ve been helping clients setup GA4 (fka App+Web) for several months now and am happy to consult on how to think about GA4, the tagging infrastructure, etc.

      Best,
      Krista

      • Awesome…thanks, Krista. We’re definitely planning on getting dual tagging set up on all our properties before Jan 1st.

  2. Harry

    So regarding the option to create a Universal Analytics property…

    In one of the properties I manage, there was no clear info on upgrading to GA4 (I had thought I was using Universal Analytics for this property, but apparently not?). According to Google’s instructions, the option for GA4 access is to create a new property.

    Simple enough (though I do think Google could be a little more clear within the Admin section, but alas…).

    In this process, I see there’s a toggle option to “Create a Universal Analytics property” which is set to off by default, with the following note:

    “The Universal Analytics property is a part of an earlier version of Google Analytics and only supports web measurement. It is not recommended for new Analytics users, and it will not support app measurement. Turn this on if you’d like to create a Universal Analytics property.”

    Here’s what’s not entirely clear: to me this reads like the use case of creating a new property to track (say, a new website). What I’m unsure about is whether this would have any affect on previous data of an existing website.

    For instance, I wish the following was clarified from Google: with GA4 will ANY previous property data be imported? And if so, do I need to “Create a Universal Analytics property” in order to import said data?

    • Krista

      When you create a new property in Google Analytics, regardless if it’s a Universal Analytics property or a GA4 property, you will not import previous data. It will only have data for the time of creations (and code implementation) going forward.

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