Algorithm Rolled Out: Still In Progress

Algorithm Overview: Overall Gist

Google Analytics 4 is a web analytics solution that allows you to track traffic and activity on your websites and applications. This documentation contains implementation instructions and reference resources aimed at developers.

What Do We Know So Far?

Google’s official release covers the details, but there’s a lot to take in – so here’s what is important.

  • On January 7, 2023, your “old” Analytics (GA3 aka Universal Analytics or UA) will stop tracking new data.
  • Because GA4 is a whole new system, you will need to arrange your tracking and reporting to operate with it. 
  • GA4 connects with GTM (Google Tag Manager). 
  • Your Universal Analytics data will not migrate to GA4.

GA4 Is Getting Ready For A World Without Cookies.

Universal Analytics relies on cookies, and if the ‘Cookie Apocalypse’ occurs, we will no longer be able to gather data using cookies.

As a result, the Google team was obliged to rebuild the whole Google Analytics infrastructure.

Unfortunately, this will not move your current GA data to GA4 (unless you use Firebase) because of this new start.

Because the tracking and reporting systems have been completely revamped, your old tracking will need to be completely reset.

Rebuilding your existing conversion, eCommerce, and other tracking from Universal Analytics to GA4 will need extensive planning, testing, and reconfiguring of any external sources linked with GA (such as your Google Ads or reporting dashboards).

GA4 Is Still A Work In Progress.

At the time of writing, the GA4 platform was still under development and lacked critical functionality seen in Universal Analytics.

The following Universal Analytics functionalities are not available in GA4 as of March 29, 2021:

  • Annotations
  • Multi-Channel / Attribution Funnels
  • Calculated Metrics 
  • Channel Groups (Custom/Editable) 
  • Adsense Connectors 
  • Campaign Manager 360 Connectors 
  • Display & Video 360 Connectors
  • Google Ad Manager Connectors 
  • Google Optimize Connectors
  • Salesforce Connectors 
  • Search Ads 360 Connectors
  • Emojis 
  • Filters 
  • Hostname DimensionIP Filters (Regex Support) 
  • Landing Pages Report
  • Product-Level, Session-Level Custom Dimensions 
  • Measurement Protocol – IoT Tracking
  • Exclusions for query parameters
  • Roll-Up Characteristics
  • Reports on Site Searches 
  • Store Visits 
  • Stream-level User Permissions 
  • Views

What You Need To Do To get Ready For GA4

Migrating to GA4 is not as straightforward as replacing the tracking code, and we propose a phased/thoughtful approach.

Step 1: Install the GA4 tracking code 

  1. Create your GA4 property – the property should be created in the same account as your Universal Analytics property.
  1. Install the base GA4 code on your site using Google Tag Manager – do not remove your Universal Analytics tracking code; you should retain two sets of Google Analytics tags firing until you have fully migrated all reporting to GA4 and have enough historical data.
  1. Enable “Enhanced measurement” – the GA4 base tracking code lets you track pageviews, scrolling, outbound clicks, site search, video interaction, and file downloads directly without special GTM tracking.
  1. Include links to your other items, such as Google Ads and the merchant center.

Your site will now have a basic pageview and click event tracking.

Step 2: Design your GA4 custom events.

GA4 tracking is event-based, so you’ll need to put up new events to track (and report on) anything more than simple page views and the native “enhanced measurement.”

Unlike Universal Analytics, which enables you to fire off and gather event data at a whim, GA4 requires you to tell it what event “names” to watch out for and what parameters to anticipate before collecting them.

This is excellent since it means we are no longer limited to “Category,” “Action,” and “Label.” Still, it also means you must carefully design your events before diving beneath the hood.

Before you begin, we recommend setting a tracking migration plan and describing your events with explicit naming standards.

  1. Create your form events – If you previously had GTM set to record form submission events for your GA installation, you should be able to utilize the same event triggers to trigger the events themselves. Once the events are set to fire, add custom events in GA4 to gather the data and confirm that the parameters are appropriately recorded.
  1. Set up your eCommerce tracking (if necessary) – utilize the GA4 ecommerce tracking guidelines to gather and upload your eCommerce data to GA4 through GTM.
  1. Custom events – As a starting point, use the current GTM UA event triggers and tags and ensure they are properly rebuilt as GA4 custom events.
  1. Set your goals – Use the events to set your goals.

Alternatively, Google provides this migration script that might aid in the analysis and migration process.

Step 3: Consists Of Testing And Reporting.

Now that your base-level tracking is configured, you must ensure that: 

• You use your Universal Analytics to monitor for any discrepancies and irregularities – and adjust your tracking accordingly 

• You take advantage of the new GA4 reporting tools and migrate away from your Universal Analytics Data

• Alternatively, Google provides this migration script that might aid in the analysis and migration process.

Why Do We Care?

Even though the Universal Analytics sunset date has been established for 1/7/2023, Google Analytics 4 is still a work in progress, with features changing daily.

We urge that you subscribe to Google’s newsletter to stay up to date on updates to the GA4 platform and avoid being caught off guard on July 1, 2023!

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