Google Analytics 4: The Business and Future Focused Analytics Tool

March 2021

In October 2020 Google Analytics 4 was announced as Google’s new default analytics platform for websites. GA4 is groundbreaking and the new default version of Google Analytics – which is why it should be on your agenda sooner rather than later. 

For the past year, we have implemented and supported GA4 for a number of clients, picking up valuable lessons along the way. GA4 is an entirely different product than Universal Analytics (UA). It is a business-focused analytics tool, and its adoption will enable you to ensure a future-proven digital analytics setup, allow your organization to gain more control over your data, and pave the way to advanced reporting and data activation use cases.

Since phasing out Universal Analytics is just a matter of time, we are launching a 4-part GA4 newsletter series to help you get started and keep you informed about recent updates. You can find the most recent updates here. If you’re new, make sure to sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss out!

Not sure how to get started with reporting on your GA4 data?

GA4 Newsletter Series #1: Most Recent Updates (March)

GA4 was released with an incomplete set of features compared to Universal Analytics, but it is rapidly catching up with constant updates coming up. In this newsletter, we provide you an overview of what has been recently added. If you are looking for a first introduction to GA4, we recommend that you have a look at Google Analytics 4: Are you ready to implement it? first, and then come back.

GA4 Data Studio Connector

The Data Studio connector for GA4 properties now lets you use the beloved Source, Medium, and Campaign dimensions for traffic analysis. Both on user as well as on session scope. Have you built a GA4 dashboard already, but dearly missed these?

This update enables you to assess your marketing campaign performance in Datastudio and keep your stakeholders informed about their marketing campaign performance.

Keep in mind that you can now connect your GA4 raw data in BigQuery with Datastudio. This opens up a wide range of use cases for a totally new level of reporting compared to your former Universal Analytics dashboards. We are stoked, since this opportunity has only been available for GA360 users up until now.

Modify and create events in GA4 – Dazzling new feature

Have you already put in the work to update your GTM setup to GA4, but later realized that you are missing a crucial event?

There is an easy fix for this now: Modify and create events directly from within GA4.

This again is a great example of the flexibility we gain by adopting to GA4 and its inherent event-based tracking model.

Custom Dimensions in GA4 – Closing the gap

To consolidate the user experience of Google Analytics 4 with that of its predecessor, Universal Analytics, Google has morphed the user properties data model into User-scoped Custom Dimensions.

You still collect data to the custom dimensions by defining User Properties in the code (or the tag), but the outcome is that they appear (and need to be configured) as custom dimensions in the reporting interface.

Currently, e-commerce businesses are missing product-scoped custom dimensions to enrich their product data. We recently learned that Google has session- and item-scoped custom dimensions on their roadmap.

In the meantime, consider the newly added Data Import feature to achieve the same outcome.

Do you feel like now is a good time to start collecting e-commerce data in GA4?
You are absolutely right and you are welcome to reach out to our Web Analytics team to learn more about the advantages of GA4.

GA4 API – Automate recurring tasks

Are you tired of pulling the same data over and over from GA? Do you want to build customized dashboards and manage GA4 access at scale?

Our very own Mark Edmondson has got you covered! Take a look at his most recent talk, titled GA4 API FTW, to learn about the latest updates of the GA4 API. In this video, Mark will walk you through the intricacies of the exciting world of GA4 APIs, giving tips on how to get started and outlining potential use cases.

Closing thoughts

With all these exciting updates, GA4 is definitely an inevitable tool for your analytics tech stack in 2021 and beyond. With little to lose and valuable experience to gain, we hope this first part of our newsletter series has provided you with valuable insights of the GA4 roadmap and clear arguments to justify starting your implementation as soon as possible:

  • Gain and preserve historical data – the sooner you start, the more data you will have.
  • Start your learning curve now and gain a competitive edge with the benefits.

  • Stakeholders need time to adapt to new ways – be responsible and start early.

As always – let us know if you have any feedback and drop me a line at gunnar@iihnordic.com if we can help you further.

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Gunnar Griese

Gunnar Griese

Analytics Specialist, IIH Nordic