Google Analytics 4 Makes Machine Learning Mainstream for Web Analytics
The comprehensive tool streamlines best practices, and most importantly, is a proactive response to a cookie-less future.
Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service on the web. It launched in 2005 and has steadily grown to nearly 40 million sites, including the site you’re on right now. Throughout the years, the service has issued numerous updates to make the experience more detailed, seamless and reliable. However, its recent launch of Google Analytics 4 or GA4 (formerly known as App + Web) is poised to be the most disruptive yet. The comprehensive tool streamlines best practices, and most importantly, is a proactive response to a cookie-less future.
A Cookie-Less Future
Cookies have been a critical tool for marketers for more than 25 years. They provide information about consumer behavior that improves targeting. However, growing concern over consumer privacy has prompted Firefox and Safari to block third-party cookies, and sometime in 2021 Google Chrome will drop cookies altogether. While this change will undoubtedly disrupt the marketing industry making it harder to collect valuable consumer information the old-fashioned way, GA4 takes a new approach to tracking and analyzing insights through machine learning.
How GA4 Uses Machine Learning
Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. GA4 is harnessing machine learning to improve existing App + Web features and offer a comprehensive user analysis. For example, GA4 offers more customer-centric measurements that aren’t fragmented by device or platform. It also provides clearer insights throughout the customer journey that automatically surface based on what they believe is most valuable for the end-user. We’re also pleased that it allows us to better comply with user deletion requests without having to remove more data than necessary.
Traditional Google Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4
See the differences between the existing Google Analytics service and Google Analytics 4.
|Legacy Versions of Google Analytics||VS.||Google Analytics 4|
|Breaks user activity into broad categories, such as sessions and page views, that are fragmented by device and platform||User Engagement Measurement||Seamlessly rolls up user-centric data across all devices and provides a more complete view of the customer journey.|
|Allows users to opt-out of submitting cookies and data to Google Analytics.||Data Privacy||Prepares advertisers for a cookie-less future through added granularity on collecting and using Analytics data.|
|Uses machine learning to scan data and provide automated insights, saving you time.||Machine Learning||Puts machine learning at its core to glean insights from audience subsets and fill in data gaps of larger populations.|
|Tracking updates must be manually applied to tags in Google Tag Manager or through code.||Event Tracking Tags||A global site tag enables you to add expanded tracking features that automatically deploy to your site, without needing to install new tags.|
GA4 is primed to offer the best in web analytics; especially as consumer privacy concerns continue to grow. As such, Adept is in the process of adopting the new service, but not without hesitation. We don’t doubt the sincerity of Google’s new offering, but we’re not willing to lose data due to unforeseen glitches. As a solution, we will continue to work within the existing service while we test and compare the data and measurement provided by GA4. Machines may be smart, but our analysts are smarter.
In the new year, our client teams will be sharing information about updates to reports that reflect information provided by GA4. It is our hope that we will be able to help our clients be more proactive and better reactive to the customer experience.
If you have questions about analytics and your campaigns, contact us.