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You Ask, I Answer: Predictive Analytics in Google Analytics 4?

Kaylee asks, “What kinds of predictive analytics modeling is in Google Analytics 4?”

You Ask, I Answer: Predictive Analytics in Google Analytics 4?

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In this episode, Kaley asks, what kinds of predictive analytics modeling is in Google Analytics 4.

So this question has two answers.

For the end user, you and I, very little, if you go in the Explorer hub, there is the ability to do anomaly detection and a little bit of forecasting.

In Google Data Studio, you can do things like slap trend lines on data.

But for the most part, there isn’t a lot of predictive analytics that is accessible to the end user in such a way that you can use it to forecast what’s likely to happen.

There is really good anomaly detection.

So you can program Google Analytics, even on an hourly basis to say like, Hey, when, you know, traffic gets the exceeds 500% of the previous period, raise your hand.

That stuff works really well.

But in terms of predictive analytics, not a whole lot.

The second answer is that behind the scenes, there’s quite a bit of predictive analytics going on.

Google is using a lot of imputation algorithms to deal with missing data.

Because, you know, on average, like 2030 40% of the data that we collect from our websites and stuff is missing, right? Privacy, things consent not being given for tracking bugs, ad blockers, you name it, there’s so many different technologies that are built to take data away from marketers, that software like Google Analytics has to essentially fill in the blanks.

It’s best guesses based on the behavior of people on your site and matching that of people who have been on your site previously to have those same behaviors, looking at the demographic and psychographic and stuff data that they would have had.

So you have this known audience.

And you have this unknown audience that the unknown audience behaves exactly like the known audience.

Google’s predictive analytics says, Okay, this unknown audience probably is like this known audience.

So this is all Asian guys 40 to 50 years old.

And this group here behaves exactly like Asian guys 40 to 50 years old, this group is probably asian guys 40 to 50 years old.

As a rough example, if you want to leverage predictive analytics yourself.

With Google Analytics, you’ve got to get the data out of the application yourself.

And use your own forecasting software to do things like forecasting by channel or forecasting by campaign, and so on, and so forth.

And if that’s a doable thing, Google Analytics has inversion for the GA for Data API.

And it’s pretty good.

There is a lot of useful data in it.

It’s not sampled, like Google Analytics 3 data is.

And so you can do some pretty robust forecasting off of it once you can get the data out of the application.

But the challenge there is that for a lot of folks, that’s a bit more technical, heavy lifting than a lot of folks are accustomed to doing.

Now, that said, there is no shortage of third party vendors that are offering some kind of software for sale, that can can do similar things.

But the data is there, it’s all done the same way you take data out of the GA four API, you clean it up, you format it into a time series and say, Okay, let’s forecast, let’s predict what’s likely to happen in the next 3045 6090 days, based on back data.

In some ways, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that there isn’t predictive analytics, but to do Google Analytics, 4.

Because predictive analytics, as we all know, can be really, really wrong.

Sometimes, particularly when you are in an uncertain environment, when you’re in an unstable environment.

For example, there’s one client that just spent a whole bunch of money on a campaign and that that campaign, in the historical data creates this massive distortion, that kind of screws up forecasting, because you know, for a month, their results like crazy high, and then they ran out of money, and they all they turn the dials back down.

And they they don’t, they can’t replicate that.

And so we can’t forecast from that, because it’s an anomaly.

We actually have to remove it from the data so that it doesn’t screw up other forecasts.

And that’s not something that Google is going to roll out to the end user anytime soon, because it requires data cleaning, right? It requires subject matter expertise.

It requires knowing what your company did, and so it will be very easy for Google to forecast the wrong things.

Christopher Penn 5:01

because it doesn’t know what happened behind the scenes, it doesn’t know that your your cmo got drunk one night and swiped a credit card and put a million bucks in your Google ad system as an example.

Right? He doesn’t know that.

So it can only forecast the day it’s given.

And there’s so much uncertainty that it’s it’s very challenging.

So, no, there’s no substantial predictive analytics modeling capabilities exposed to the end user in Google Analytics 4.

You’ve got to do that yourself.

Good question.

Thanks for asking.

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