Started week 10 with new courses in the digital analytics Mini degree course.
The new course in this mini degree program was Google Analytics 4.
Google Analytics has been around for about 15 years and everything you know about it is about to change. There’s features that have never been available to marketers before at this level, including access to your raw data in BigQuery, which opens up advanced data science components, predictive analytics, machine learning, and all sorts of other things. We have new features users of Google Analytics have been asking and begging for forever, including better funnels, better pathing reports and other components. And I’m going to teach you everything that you need to know so that you can begin to utilize. So with that, let’s go ahead and start with our lesson today. Our first lesson is to have an overview of what this new next generation version of Google Analytics is.
We’re going to start off, and I’m hoping to teach you what is new in this new version of Google Analytics and how it’s different than Universal Analytics. Our lesson objectives for today are kind of three key areas. I want to introduce you to this new version of Google Analytics. We’re going to learn what it really is. And we’re also going to discover how it’s different than Universal Analytics. I’m going to do that by showing you all of the new features that have never really been available in Google Analytics before. And I think you’re really (audio cuts)At the end I’m also going to give you advice on when and how you should get started.
This is going to be really key for our lesson. So with that, let’s introduce this new version of Google Analytics called Google Analytics 4.And with that, another key component is that Google Analytics has actually been deprecating some of the features in it, particularly around mobile, and encouraging customers to move over to Firebase. So we’ve had these two different platforms, and again, they have two different user interfaces and very different capabilities, and arguably features that everyone wants to have. So the first key component of what Google Analytics 4 is it’s the reunification of our measurement platforms. So when we talk about Google Analytics 4,the name used to be App + Web and that’s because Google was reunifying the mobile app and the web capabilities into a single platform. Another thing that I wanted to address is the name Google Analytics 4.
Really everything about it’s changed. Now, one thing that’s interesting is, as I mentioned Google had these two measurement platforms, right? Universal Analytics, as well as the Google Analytics for Firebase for mobile app. Google Analytics has historically used a hit based data model. When we think of tracking, we track things with hits, like a page you hit or an event hit or a social hit (audio cut)Now Firebase uses an event driven data model where everything you would track in Firebase, you track that with an event.
Even a page view is an event. It’s just a type of an event. Many newer flavours of analytics platforms today use event driven data models where events really drive GA4 is moving away from that hit based data model and moving completely towards internet driven data model. In fact, it is simply adopting the Firebase model. If you actually have Firebase today you can upgrade your properties to GA4and it carries all your historical data with it and unlocks it and puts the new user interface on top. So what is GA4?Well, it’s simply the adoption of Firebase as the new primary model for GA4with a brand new UI that wasn’t available in Firebase.
So now it’s the reunification and it’s the addition of the web and the measurement protocol and all the other capabilities that we didn’t really have before. So it’s that reunification of everything. That data model is going to be very important. This new concept of an event driven. So now let’s move on to the next part. We’re going to talk about what is new in Google Analytics 4,and to do that I’m going to focus on how it’s different than Universal Analytics, or the version of Google Analytics almost everyone’s using. And this is going to be important because in the lessons to come, I’m going to show you how to use all of these exciting features, how to get access to them, what you need to set up in order to use them, and everything you kind of need to know around that.
So with that, let’s start. So automatically it’ll try and track scrolls. It’ll try and track Halbach clicks, downloads, it’ll even try and track single page apps and the correct kind of page fragments, and a few other things as well, like video. And again, this kind of happens out of the box. And we’ll talk about how you can customize this later and what the data actually looks like from this. But what this means is when users get started with GA4 for the first time, they’re going to have more than just page views out of the box. So this is a nice improvement over how GA (audio cuts)Now, as I mentioned, everything about GA4is kind of new and rebuilt. So of course the UI has been completely re-imagined. You have more data. So before we didn’t really ever have custom dimensions with Realtime. We now have user properties or the new kind of user scope dimensions. So you have more and more flexible data. And again, a more polished UI. There’s also an API that just launched for this.
Now another area around improvements to GA4 that I really love is some of the improvements they’ve made to debugging. So previously, if you’ve ever had to figure out,” What’s going on with my tracking?” Like “Why is there an issue?” And trying to figure out,” Is something not collected at the right time? Is it missing a piece of information? Where in my tracking is it going wrong?” The only real way we as marketers had to do debugging was to open up our browser, kind of load up the developer console and start looking at network hits or maybe use an extension. Wasn’t really a lot of options to do any sort of debugging in GA itself. Now, Google has brought over another Firebase component called Debug View and made it available for web as well. With DebugView, you can enable this by either simply using the Chrome extension, which is the Google Analytics debugger, entering preview mode and Google Tag Manager or sending a debug mode flag that you’ve manually set on one of your events. And when you do that, it’ll actually stream the detain real time into this DebugView report.
So this allows you to easily seethe chronological order of everything that happened, drill in for more information, and allow you to kind of pinpoint whether your tracking is working as expected, or if not, exactly where maybe something went wrong. So this is a lot easier for marketers to actually see and experience how that data is being recorded (audio cuts)If you’ve ever attended a training or a webinar or any sort of topic ever done on Google Analytics I almost always talk about the segmentation and audience building capabilities in Google Analytics. And when I talk about that feature I kind of view it as Google’s most powerful and most important feature in the platform, and what differentiates a beginner GA user from an intermediate and advanced user. I can tell whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate user by whether or not you know how to use Advanced Segments.
Now with GA4, Google’s taken Advanced Segments and kind of taken that to the next level. We have a brand new Audience Builder and they’ve added components that have never been available to you before. We can now do hit scoped segments. That’s something that users who have used Adobe always like to brag is a feature that they’ve had. Now, Google has that too so you can identify easily the exact set of hits that met kind of advanced conditions. In addition, they’ve added new capabilities around this for doing kind of temporary versus permanent excludes. So why is that important? Well, if you’ve ever done a remarketing, normally when we do remarketing we exclude users who might’ve purchased something. It’s kind of the classic example of remarketing. Now the question is should we kind of permanently exclude those users or might we temporarily want to exclude those users? So let’s say someone purchased something and then two months later, they come back to our website and they start looking at products again or maybe a different product type entirely.
At that point, you might want to have the flexibility to allow that user to be re-eligible for your remarketing audiences. And that’s what this new flexibility around permanent and temporary exclusions allow you to do. And lastly, one of my favourite improvements here is how GA4 is going to handle the concept of time. In current GA we typically measure time for time on page or time per session. With GA4, session time or time in general, user time, just time is way more flexible. An example of that is in your Audience Builder you can use time as a component on the fly. So if you wanted to isolate a set of users who completed your checkout experience in under five minutes or users that have spent four minutes or less reading your blog content or users that started to fill out a form and completed filling out that form within a week, you can start to scope conditions around time in ways that really weren’t possible in GA before. We’re going to come back to elapsed time a few different times throughout our time. Another big improvement with GA4is around conversion tracking.
So conversion tracking has been completely rebuilt. Before in GA we used to define conversions off of a certain page that someone viewed off the URL or perhaps the event category (audio cuts)In GA4, you can simply go in and for any of the events you’re capturing, there’s now a simple toggle. So if you know you want a certain event type to be a conversion, just toggle it on. Another big change here is Google Analytics used to only give you 20 goals per view, and those slots, there wasn’t really any way to reuse those. So that created problems for users that had been using the platform for a long time. With GA4 you can now archive goals which free up slots, so way more flexible, and in addition, there’s even more powerful components around modifying events, creating events, creating conversions from segments, all sorts of exciting features that’ll take conversion tracking to a level that was simply not possible in GA before. And we’ll cover that in a later lesson.
Now for some of the really exciting things. And with that, what I want to do is just kind of recap our lesson and what we went through. So it’s important to note Google Analytics 4 is a completely new version of Google Analytics. It’s completely different than the Google Analytics you’ve always used. It’s got that brand new event driven data model. The UI is completely different. So things that we’re used to like views and properties are very different’ cause now we have streams and we have a property, and streams not functioning the same way as views. We also have those new components like BigQuery integrations, right? So complete re-imagining of the things you can do with Google Analytics. In addition, remember we want to dual-tag. We want to implement GA4 in parallel to our existing version of Google Analytics. And we can also expect many things with GA4to change over time.