GA4 and the future of analytics

Web Analytics Tools + Data Privacy: The Big Shift to GA4

Why are analytics + data so important for marketers?

Data and analytics are the key to better understanding your marketing efforts. Tracking campaign performance with data analytics tools allows you to understand and refine your strategies, optimize your efforts, and maximize ad spend. 


There are a number of web analytics tools in the market, many of which use machine learning and A.I. technologies to identify patterns and provide insights. 


Our MarTech, or Marketing Technology team, along with our Data Analytics and Search Engine Optimization teams, thoroughly tested and considered several of the top data analytics tools available, including Google Analytics 4 (GA4), to give you a basic understanding of these technologies and show you how your organization can benefit from Google’s best-in-class tools, see which alternative might be right for you, or find the combination of platforms that will give you the most accurate insights possible.


The Switch to GA4 + What it Means for Your Data


Google launched Google Analytics 4 as a new generation of their analytics platform and sunsetted Universal Analytics, GA4’s predecessor. GA4 contains a number of new features that clients might find advantageous in gathering insights across multiple devices, including websites and apps. There is also an increased emphasis on data privacy as third-party cookies are beginning to be phased out. 


However, there are some speedbumps Google still needs to work out with the latest rollout and some obstacles to data gathering that may always be in place. There likely will always be something in place that allows users to block all cookies. So, even with third-party cookies phasing out, tools like GA4 (a first-party cookie) will not always capture a complete picture. The danger of relying only on GA4 for your analytics means that the numbers might not always add up to the actual number of viewers or visitors on your site due to the ability for users to block it. This means that you are getting a warped view of your traffic when solely relying on GA4 for data collection. Despite this obstacle in measurement, this tool and others like it are still incredibly useful. Rather than relying on it as a singular source of truth for actual numbers, we recommend using GA4 to look along trend lines to make the most of the data you’re able to collect.


Additionally, the menu on the newest generation is completely different, and while this accommodates new features, it is still a bit clunky to use and not intuitive. For organizations who waited until now to migrate over, you may run into several issues, including the steeper learning curve that the new menu presents.


How to Prepare (or Back Pedal if You’re Late)


Another issue that you may find yourself in if you’ve waited until late in the game to migrate your data to GA4 or used the automatic setup without customizing anything, is that you may not have the data collected that you need. GA4 runs on machine learning from months of data gathering to then produce the pattern recognition and insights organizations can view and analyze. But this only works if you give it the time required to do that and if the right things are set up to be tracked.


If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you are not alone. While you may not be able to recover lost data, it’s not too late to get your analytics back on track moving forward, and the Media Cause MarTech team can help you do that. 


Why You Should Consider Using Web Analytics Tools Other Than Just GA4


At times, the use of a combination of platforms or alternatives to GA4 is the right choice. An agency can help you distill what you need for your program and what the right option or combination is. We’ll be sharing our recommended platform combinations, comparisons, and use cases for each in the near future, but for now, below are a few top alternatives for you to consider.

1. Plausible
2. Matomo


Data Privacy + the Future of Analytics


Data privacy and consent is more important now than ever. Ensuring that your data is collected ethically protects your organization and audiences, as well as the validity of your data. 


With the transitions happening in privacy, like the phasing out of third-party cookies, there may be less information around targeting. We recommend cultivating and trusting data that you uniquely own through a CRM platform, like Hubspot, or a Customer Data Platform, like Segment, to make your insights more reliable. When you reframe the strategy behind measurement and start investing in owned information, in addition to using data analytics tools to identify trends, your measurement will be more accurate and actionable. You will begin to uncover the answers to your ‘why’s’ for any changes you see in performance and use that to level-up your strategy. 


Looking for More Help with Data and Analytics?


Our job is to understand our clients’ programs and needs, and our goal is to train and empower them to understand the types of data they need in a way that isn’t overwhelming. 

Our marketing technology and data analytics experts will guide you to the best solution for your organization. Learn more about web analytics tools, data privacy, and reporting today.


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