Google is rolling out a major update for Google Analytics that’s designed to help you make smarter marketing decisions and increase ROI. Google Analytics 4 uses machine learning to deliver more powerful insights and identify trends while providing more granular data controls and deeper integration with Google Ads.
Google cites a Forrester Consulting survey where marketers say that improving analytics is their top priority while existing solutions “make it difficult to get a complete view of the customer and derive insights from their data”. The new Google Analytics aims to solve this problem for marketers by filling in the gaps with automated insights.
Introducing the new Google Analytics
The new Google Analytics receives a modest visual redesign, further refining the minimal interface we’ve become used to in recent years. The first change you’ll notice is the new navigation menu on the left, which represents the shift in focus for Google Analytics 4.
The new Life cycle category of reports aims to provide a complete overview of the entire customer journey. While the existing version of GA puts a heavy focus on acquisition, the new Google Analytics places acquisition as the first crucial stage of the customer journey but recognises the role of engagement, monetisation (turning leads into customers) and customer retention.
With previous versions of Google Analytics, you had to put in some extra leg work to create reports for engagement, conversion tracking, customer retention and marketing objectives beyond the first touchpoint. Google Analytics 4 provides reports for each stage of the consumer journey, by default, and places them within a navigational structure that reflects the multi-channel nature of modern marketing.
Smarter insights powered by machine learning
Behind the visual redesign of Google Analytics 4, the most significant updates are sitting behind the interface. Powered by machine learning, the new GA alerts you to important trends in your data, such as the rising demand for one of your products or emerging customer needs.
It can also perform predictive calculations on your behalf to inform key marketing actions.
“It even helps you anticipate future actions your customers may take. For example, it calculates churn probability so you can more efficiently invest in retaining customers at a time when marketing budgets are under pressure.”
Google says it will continue to add new predictive metrics, including the potential revenue you could earn from specific groups of customers, allowing you to prioritise the highest-value audiences.
With Google Analytics’ machine learning insights, you can make informed marketing decisions based on trends and predictions you might otherwise have missed or simply lack the data to calculate.
Deeper Google Ads integration
Greater insights from Google Analytics allows you to define audiences with greater accuracy and deliver more compelling ads across the entire consumer journey. Thanks to a deeper integration with Google Ads and smarter insights from GA, you can pinpoint high-value audiences at a more granular level of touchpoints.
“A deeper integration with Google Ads, for example, lets you create audiences that can reach your customers with more relevant, helpful experiences, wherever they choose to engage with your business.”
The new Google Analytics measures interactions from websites and apps. This means, for example, that you can view conversions from YouTube against views that take place both on the web and in-app within the same report.
You can compare these conversion reports alongside conversions from Google and non-Google paid channels, and organic channels like Google Search, social and email to get a complete picture of how your marketing efforts are working together – both paid and organic.
360° customer-centric data
Google admits that previous versions of Google Analytics only provided fragmented data for devices and platforms. This makes it hard for marketers to understand the entire customer journey as users switch between devices and engage with brands via Search, social, YouTube and a variety of platforms.
Google Analytics 4 wants to solve this problem by providing a genuine 360° view of the customer journey.
“It uses multiple identity spaces, including marketer-provided User IDs and unique Google signals from users opted into ads personalization, to give you a more complete view of how your customers interact with your business.”
For example, when a customer first discovers your brand through a paid ad on the web, then later installs your mobile app and makes an in-app purchase later one, you’ll be able to see and attribute these touchpoints. This means you can give the appropriate credit to ads and other marketing actions that generate initial leads and contribute to the purchase.
With privacy laws rapidly changing and Google removing third-party cookies from Chrome by 2022, the analytics landscape is evolving at a faster rate than ever before. The new Google Analytics provides data controls that provide marketers with the insights they need to inform key decisions while respecting the privacy of individual users.
“With a new approach to data controls, you can better manage how you collect, retain and use your Analytics data. More granular controls for ads personalization let you choose when to use your data to optimize your ads and when to limit your data use to measurement. And of course, we continue to offer users control over sharing their activity with Google Analytics.”
The new Google Analytics is ready to adapt to a future without cookies and user identifiers, which is looking increasingly likely. By implementing machine learning models now, Google will be ready to fill in the gaps left by the loss of cookies and user tracking.
How do I start using the new Google Analytics?
Google Analytics 4 is now the default experience for new properties. You can start using it by creating a new Google Analytics 4 property, which will run alongside your existing properties. This way, you can start gathering the data you need to make the full transition over to the new Google Analytics while still maintaining your current implementation.
As of yet, the Analytics 360 version of Google Analytics 4 is currently in the beta stage and we’re awaiting more information about when this will open to all users. In the meantime, you can create your Google Analytics 4 property and get a feel for the new platform until more details are available.