You Ask, I Answer: When to Switch to Google Analytics 4?

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You Ask, I Answer: When to Switch to Google Analytics 4?

Brian asks, “When should a company really consider shifting over to Google Analytics 4?”

Interestingly, reports from Reddit say people setting up new properties are not given an option for GA 3 (aka Universal Analytics, it is available as an ‘advanced’ option) so we’re already seeing Google pushing hard for GA 4 adoption.

You should deploy it as soon as possible to begin collecting data in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics properties. You should also consider setting up a training property you can muck around with.

You should begin using it as the standard of measurement once you can replicate everything that mattered to you in GA 3. That will take some time as the configuration and setup to do so will take a little while. This also requires proficiency with Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio.

Everyone who works on the affected team should take and pass the GA 4 migration course available for free from Google.

You Ask, I Answer: When to Switch to Google Analytics 4?

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Christopher Penn 0:07 In today’s episode, Brian asks, When should a company really consider shifting over to Google Analytics for? That’s a really good question.

Because Initially, I was saying that, you know, give yourself a lot of time to get used to it and things like that.

But over on Reddit in the Reddit analytics subreddit, people are setting up new properties are not being given an option for ga three.

And agencies are saying clients, big clients are asking asking for asking to switch over.

I guess having heard of the the presumed benefits of Google Analytics for so we’re already seeing an adoption push for the technology for Google Analytics for and funnily enough, when I went over to my Google Analytics account here today, when I went to go here, and go to create a property, guess what it’s now Google Analytics for so anyone creating new Google Analytics accounts, is being shown this and getting set up by default in Google Analytics for which, if you watch other videos in this series, can present a bit of a challenge, right? If you’re not familiar with it, now, Google Analytics three, aka Universal Analytics is still available.

It’s under the advanced options here.

So you can also create an older legacy account as well.

But clearly, Google has decided that GTA four is what people should be using, there’s even an upgrade option here to convert a Universal Analytics account, do not do this.

Do not upgrade your universal account just yet.

Create a new property for GTA four and have them run in parallel for a little while.

And here’s why.

We’ve talked about this a bunch of times.

But the the measurement philosophy in Google Analytics is very different, very different from Google Analytics, three, in the sense that things are measured differently, configuration is done differently.

And if you’re not proficient in that philosophy, Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio, then moving to Google Analytics, four could be a bit of a learning curve.

And by the a bit, I mean, a greased wall made of marble.

So when should you be doing this? When should you be making the leap? Well, you should be deploying Google Analytics for as soon as reasonably possible, given any challenges you have in your culture and an organization.

Because, as with everything with Google, nothing is retroactive.

So the sooner that you can deploy it and get it collecting data, the better.

Even if you don’t fully configure it, just get it out there and get it listening and gathering up information.


So that’s one.

And it should be done ideally, in parallel with your existing accounts.

Don’t touch that upgrade button, just don’t do it.

And you probably should also set up a training property as well, you’re allowed, you know, 80 or 100 properties per Google Analytics account.

So set up a Google Analytics for core account, and then label one your training ga four account and that can be the one that you mess around with and blow up and, and you’ll accidentally create all sorts of chaos on but have those two setup in parallel, it’s a good practice to get into is have a training ground.

If, as in this case, you’re not resource constrained, so that you have a place for you and your team to be experimenting, and nobody’s gonna feel bad like, Oh, dang, we just nuked all of our company’s data by accident.

That will necessitate because the property and operate to the property level that will necessitate duplicate tags and Tag Manager for your training in your Live account.

So just keep that in mind that you’re going to need those the duplicate sets of tags.

So that’s the deployment side.

The bigger question, the one I think you’re really getting at Ryan is you should begin using Google Analytics for as a standard of measurement as like this is the now the the system of record.

Once you can replicate everything in GA, for that matter to you in ga three.

This will take some time.

Because the configuration and the setup requires Tag Manager proficiency requires Data Studio proficiency requires organizational change behavior proficiency because you are talking about going around and interviewing stakeholders and saying, Hey, what did you use to use in ga three that was really important to you.

One of the most important things you can do if you’ve been using Google Data Studio for a while is embed a Google Analytics tracking tag in there to see just how you know how often are people using it right if people remember that it even exists.

If you’ve got a Christopher Penn 5:02 really important dashboard for marketing purposes, I would, I would suggest the one of the best practices there is have it be people’s homepage tab, right? When they open a new browser tab, boom, there’s their dashboard just pops up, that’s their starting page, they remember Oh, it exists.

certainly better than putting it up like in the lobby of an office and having it be on the big screen TV.

You know, back when we went to offices, having in someone’s browser makes it very apparent that oh, this, this is the important stuff.

So I would say, that’s when you should start using it as a standard of measurement.

Once you are getting the data.

And you feel confident that everything is set up, right.

And you’re you’ve been able to replicate all the, the custom values in the parameters and everything in ga for the use of rely on in ga three, that’s when you can say, Okay, now from this day forward, we are now at ga for shop.

You should also make sure that people go anyone on your analytics team goes through and takes the free course from Google the next generation of Google Analytics, for course, it’s it takes about an hour to get through it.

And you get a cute little award at the end.

But it helps make sure that everybody understands the differences between the systems and understands how, how they’re designed to work.

I don’t think personally, the course does a great job of explaining the measurement philosophy kind of have to figure that out yourself.

But at least it gets to the nuts and bolts of like, what used to be this is now this, for example used to be sessions and users and, and pages now all events up and down.

And you’ll see some other changes in the measurement philosophy too.

For example, channel groupings and are completely gone, Google has decided that the medium is effectively the new channel grouping.

So part of that standard of measurement.

What about when to switch over? And not is when you have really good governance around source medium control when you’re doing tagging and tracking? Because now more than ever, you need to have that be pristine? Because if people are I’ve seen ad agencies like do you know, social media is the source of Facebook as the medium like no, that’s totally backwards.

The medium is the broadest category of UTM tracking code, the source gives detail about the medium.

So a consideration for that standard of measurement is Is everyone on board with governance, about tracking codes, tags, and syntax and structure it all your partners on board with it, you know, agencies and contractors and software tools.

Because if everybody’s not on board, and you still got people just kind of doing their own thing in ga four, that means your data is going to be even more of a hot mess than it already is.

Because you now you don’t have the channel groupings.

To roll things up nicely.

You will want to for example, if you if people have come to rely on Channel groupings as a form of reporting, like you know, social and referral email, in Data Studio, you’ve got to build that yourself now to replicate it so that you have clear ideas of what you want to report on.

So these are a lot of the considerations that go into, you know, when are we ready to make the switch? replicating everything that’s important to you also means knowing what’s important to you.

So auditing your own reports would take a look at the reports you publish for your stakeholders every, you know, week, every month, every quarter, have you replicated all those things in ga for so that you can produce that report again? Because even if you yourself have made the transition to ga for and how it’s thinking chances are your stakeholders have not and they want to see something that looks more or less like an apples to apples to the previous report so that they can say hey, x went up this month.

So if you if you were reporting on sessions and now you know you’re looking at page visits, you’re gonna get a very different number.

Even though page visit is one of the the core events in ga four, so there’s a lot of not only what has become what but can we make it as close to Apples to Apples so that when people do comparisons, they know what they’re looking at.

And finally, from a process perspective, you know, making sure that you’ve got everything documented, as much as it sucks.

I don’t like it either.

But document everything in ga three accounts so that when you’re working in g4, you’ve got it all clear.

So there’s a lot to do, but that’s when you should switch when you can do all that stuff.

Got follow up questions, leave in the comments box below.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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