The Next Evolution of Google Analytics
As the digital world advances, platforms constantly evolve. One platform going through changes is Google Analytics. From beginning in 2005 to launching Google Analytics 4 (GA 4) in October 2020, the program has undergone many changes to get where it is today. Since analytics are the way we measure engagement, the switch to GA 4 is monumental.
How GA 4 Came to Be
In 2005, Google gained possession of Urchin, the web statistics and analysis program used to analyze web traffic. In 2006, Google added the ‘Measure Map’ to the program to provide bloggers with the information needed to understand blog engagement.
In 2007, GA 2 was released at the Emetrics Summit in San Francisco. Through GA 2, data was presented more clearly and users could view individual reports. GA 2 also included custom dashboards, the ability to schedule and export data as pdfs, trend charts and the ability to email dashboard reports.
Seven years later, in 2014, the 3rd stage of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics (UA) launched. With UA, users were able to view their platforms across devices, while also having access to cross-channel measurement, metric integration and the possibility to use an application programming interface (API).
Finally, in October 2020, Vidhya Srinivasan, Vice President and General Manager of Google Ads announced the 4th generation of Google Analytics. This generation is the most detailed version with features such as:
- Event based data
- Cross device tracking
- Machine learning technology
- First-party cookies reliant
GA 4 has a more sophisticated user dashboard, granular data, better integration with Google Ads and all features are available to everyone.
How are UA and GA 4 different?
While UA and GA 4 are similar programs, GA 4 is more comprehensive, organized to measure how users engage with your website. Universal Analytics was built for the desktop world while GA 4 is able to measure data across all devices without being as reliant on cookies. The fourth generation of Google Analytics is powerful as it dives deeper into understanding relevant data.
What does this mean for me?
GA 4 has already been released, but will completely replace UA on July 1, 2023. By this date, users who want to continue using Google Analytics to process and store data must switch over to the new version. While users still have a year before the complete switch to GA 4 takes place, it’s best to begin the process now, so that your account can gather all the information it needs to better help you, as it can take anywhere from 6-12 months to transfer data. In July 2023, users will not be able to access old information and transfer it. With GA 4, agencies will be able to access data more simply due to the organized space.
Future of GA 4
Google Analytics is a multifaceted platform evolving daily. The fourth generation of Google Analytics is the future of Google Analytics. GA 4 offers more flexibility and privacy, and provides more capabilities than previous analytics. As technology advances, GA 4 will continue to add more features, giving users the best experience in analyzing user data.