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GA is dead, long live GA!
1L’art de la gestion de projet2Un projet à succès commence par une bonne gouvernance3Cascade, agilité, demandes de changement?

GA is dead, long live GA!

  • TECHNICAL LEVEL

Every change carries its share of uncertainties, risks and challenges, especially when the change is effected by a third party like Google. But with a little preparatory work, such difficulties can be transformed into opportunities to evolve.

Today we’d like to suggest a list of important aspects you should consider in order to form a solid opinion on the value of Google Analytics 4 and its potential benefit for the future of your organization when it comes to marketing, business intelligence, e-commerce or any other department with a highly digital “flavour.”

Risks to be considered

Deciding not to migrate to GA4 involves a good deal of risk, to put it mildly! To help clarify the situation, here are the main obstacles with which you might be confronted.

 

Data loss

As Google just announced, Universal Analytics properties will no longer collect data starting from July 1, 2023. If your tracking is solely based on Universal Analytics, this means you’ll no longer have the capacity to observe traffic on your platforms nor have even the slightest idea about your web performance or what drives it. Without the visibility data regularly provides, it will be a lot harder to make clear business decisions.

 

The processing of your data history

It’s possible you haven’t realized this yet, but the data models offered by Universal Analytics and GA4 are very different. Reconciling the data between these two environments will therefore present a number of issues, particularly with regard to “feeding” the dashboards you use.

The unification of your Universal Analytics history with the new GA4 data is in itself a significant project that you really shouldn’t take lightly. That’s why we recommend not procrastinating: The more quickly you migrate to GA4, the more quickly you’ll accumulate a data history that will eventually help you perform your historical comparisons with ease.

 

Impact on connected assets

Do you have several dashboards connected to Universal Analytics? BigQuery tables fed by your property? Integrated remarketing audiences?

All these must be closely considered during your migration to GA4, because you need to reconnect your ecosystem with this new data source. Also, as we mentioned previously, the data models for the two versions of Google Analytics are different. In addition to connecting GA4 to all the necessary tools, you also have to unify the data, and sometimes even rework them. When it comes to the migration itself, there are therefore a number of interconnected projects in store, and projects mean time! So give yourself the time you need to efficiently organize each of these stages and execute them.

 

Change management

We can never say it enough times: GA4 is a completely new platform that needs to be tamed first. The interfaces are different, some new metrics are available, and the skill and expertise you acquired on Universal Analytics cannot all be applied to GA4. This is why this migration deserves to be treated as a major technological change that necessarily involves a period for change management. You need to plan time to adapt followed by a period for learning. You cannot perform your analyses on GA4 right away—give yourself time to find your bearings! And don’t forget: The earlier you migrate to GA4, the better equipped you’ll be in the summer of 2023.

Dazed by an avalanche of problems and questions? Don’t panic!

The new GA4 era also brings with it some great opportunities! 🙂

 

Gains to be realized

Many great business opportunities will be available following your migration to GA4. Here’s a brief look at what lies ahead.

 

New free integrations

BigQuery, Display & Video 360 (DV360) or even Search Ads 360 (SA360)—these new free integrations will enable you to take things further when it comes to creating your data ecosystem. Your media data can now be connected to your behavioral web data, which will let you take things further when handling your media audiences. Thanks to BigQuery, you’ll also be able to more easily unify your digital data with those from your internal systems, which will allow you to produce a truly 360 view of your customers. What the big players in the industry have been able to do for years will be within your grasp too, now that you can access these integrations.

The GA4 data model will be less complex and also promises to facilitate integrations with suppliers of third-party data, as was the case during the Salesforce integration.

 

Evolving technology opens new vistas on the coming decade

The last data model in Universal Analytics, launched around 15 years ago, came at a time when cloud computing had not yet developed into what it is today. GA4 was built to be more robust and scalable, in addition to including a larger share of artificial intelligence. Google is making use of AI to produce probabilistic measurements and thereby reduce its dependency on visitor identification data, a level of precision now lacking.

For the very first time, Google is adjusting the attribution model by default: The data-driven model will be the privileged option for attributing conversion credits according to a calculation based on the Shapley value. This change will facilitate a fairer portrait of the return from each marketing channel through different interfaces, such as from the web and apps, but also from offline.

In the years to come, data suppliers will face issues regarding the production of data defined as personal. Because Google is one of these suppliers, the giant will use its strength to orient Google Analytics towards the cloud and its benefits, thereby hoping to remain relevant.

 

An even more powerful audience tool

On the eve of the cookie apocalypse, being able to rely on your own internal (first-party) data is now more than ever a competitive advantage. Thanks to the GA4 audience tool, you’ll now be able to build strategic segments that you can then activate on your various media platforms.

The possibilities in terms of inclusions and exclusions will help you define your audiences with greater specificity and, therefore, deploy more effective media strategies. Once again, thanks to the new free integrations, you can improve the management and activation of your audiences based on your business objectives.

 

Personalization, personalization, personalization!

Your organization has particular needs. So why not use an analytics tool made just for you?

That is, at any rate, the promise GA4 is making. With its exploration module, you can create personalized reports that are adapted to your needs. How many predefined Universal Analytics reports do you actually use? GA4 will help you get down to brass tacks and better position yourself amongst all the information by enabling you to choose which data really matters to you.

Furthermore, personalization is also available in the default reports. You can modify the main interfaces based on your needs, selecting the visualizations, metrics and dimensions that mean the most to your organization. Prepare yourself to experience a tool that is customizable and understands your needs!

 

The ideal timeline

ga4-timeline

 

Next steps

All these new changes brought by the arrival of GA4 may give the impression that your workload is now much larger than it really is. In this article, we believe we’ve clearly proven that now is the time to start laying the foundations of GA4, since this tool is sure to be an essential element of your digital marketing stack in the coming decade.

I suggest we start discussing it now in order to create an agile plan of action and ensure that most of your data assets are ready for 2023, notably by beginning the groundwork for this long-term project this summer in 2022!

In the meantime, here’s some reading material with a few articles discussing the inner workings of GA4 and the effects it may have on your operations and business success:

Official announcement

Latest blog posts from Adviso:

January 2022 – Get a 360 view of your customers with GA4, BigQuery and Google Tag Manager Server-Side

November 2021- Why it’s already time to migrate to GA4

July 2021 – What is the effect of the Google announcement to end third-party cookies by 2023?

June 2021 – The end of cookies: 3 specific solutions (video)

February 2021 – 4 Big Reasons to Activate Google Analytics 4 Before 2022

January 2021 – Why You Should Export Your Google Analytics 4 Data to BigQuery

 
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