Five features of Google Analytics 4 you need to know about (and how to get started)

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In part one we told you all about the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4)  and what the changes in the way it interprets web activity could mean for the way the web is measured and modified.

Now we detail what the new features it has in store mean for you - and what you should do next to keep hold of your vital legacy data...


GA4 is described by Google as 'a new, more intelligent Google Analytics' with 'machine learning at its core' as well as being 'privacy-centric by design and built for the future'.

With this there are, as you would expect, a load of new data features for marketing tech and data geeks to get our teeth into. 

Here are five of the most important ones to start thinking about 


1. New & improved reporting and navigation

The new UI is quite a big improvement on the previous one we’ve become used to. While the change to the way data is collected may mean saying goodbye to some previously loved reports and metrics, the new offerings should be more than enough to make up for this.

The new reports are divided into three categories; Lifecycle, User and Events.

Each built-in report now comes with an option to customise it which is a welcome addition to GA4.


2. Flexible event measurement

In Universal Analytics if you wanted to track anything outside of the basic page view hits, then you needed to implement event tracking. So for example if you wanted to track scrolls down a page, or a video view, you needed to configure a separate event hit to be sent to GA. The new codeless event measurement feature allows you to configure such events within GA, without having to make any changes to your site or in your tag manager.


3. Cross-platform analysis

If you’re managing both websites and mobile applications then GA4 has been designed with you in mind. The new property will allow you to roll up the data from multiple platforms into one place, with all of the data using the schema for easier reporting.


4. Smart insights and alerts powered by machine learning

Insights powered by AI have been gradually making their way into GA for a while, however the latest update will see them take much more of the limelight. Alerts will automatically inform you of significant changes in trends in your data, whilst also powering new predictive metrics such as churn probability and potential lifetime revenue.


5. More granular user data controls

With huge recent shifts in privacy standards due to new laws such as GDPR, it’s no surprise to see GA’s data controls being given a spruce up. A new consent mode will allow sites to provide separate opt-ins for analytics vs ads, and there are now greater options to deal with data deletion requests from users.


How do I get started?

If you’re interested in getting started with the latest version of Google Analytics then you have a couple of options for getting set up. You are able to utilise your existing Universal Analytics implementation to set up your new GA4 property, however this approach is not recommended by Google.

The recommended approach is instead to create duplicate events for your new GA4 property that are in line with the new schema. Depending on your in-house expertise, the setup can be a little tricky so contact your analytics agency for support (if you don’t have one - get in touch!)

Duplicating the events means you will be running your old and new Google Analytics properties in unison for the foreseeable future. This gives you plenty of time to get to know the new features, whilst still having the familiarity of the Universal Analytics interface to fall back on.