As dawn broke on July 1, 2023, a new chapter began for the digital analytics community. The benevolent overlords at Google decided to shepherd us all into the future, ushering in a mandatory transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) for non-360 Suite users.
As the digital confetti settled, it was time to embrace the novelty, with a sense of cautious optimism in the air.
Now, four months deep into this new era, it’s high time we put on our analytical hats and evaluate our journey thus far. Has GA4 been a boon or a bane? Let’s unravel the tale!
One thing for certain is that GA4 continues to evolve, with multiple product “enhancements” announced each month; here’s our summary of the top 10 new features so far:
1. View and Delete AdSense Links (Aug 31, 2023)
This little update is great for those users who have Google’s AdSense modules installed on their website (that is you’re using Google to display ads on your website).
- Manage links between GA4 properties and AdSense accounts seamlessly.
- Enhanced visibility of AdSense data within GA4 reports.
2. Behavioral Modeling in Path and Funnel Reports (Aug 17, 2023)
One of the much-anticipated benefits of GA4 was future-proofing ready for a cookieless world (don’t worry we’re only talking about browser cookies not the choc-chip variety – the latter will continue on).
- Uses machine learning to model user behaviour, filling data gaps brought about by the slow demise of the cookie (lots of browsers already blocking third-party cookies).
- Facilitates accurate user behaviour and website traffic analysis, even without page hit data.
3. Match Types in Reports (Aug 4, 2023)
If you’re using GA4 with any degree of regularity, then you’ve probably had to dive into custom reports to fill in some of the gaps that exist with the new interface. These changes give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to building those custom reports.
- Enhanced report customisation with match types like ‘begins with’, ‘exactly matches’, and regex.
- Allows for precise report data filtering, catering to simple and complex filtering needs.
4. New Audiences Report (Aug 1, 2023)
Audience creation in GA4 allows marketers to create audiences based on various attributes, such as on-site behaviours, prior transactions, demographics, device info, and more. Within GA4, these audiences can be used to gain insights into campaign performance, user experience, and more.
- Enables identification of most engaged and profitable audiences based on various attributes.
- Facilitates data-driven marketing strategies by offering valuable audience insights.
5. GA4 Audiences in Google Ad Manager (July 27, 2023)
When referring to GA4, an audience is a group of users that you can club together based on any combinations of attributes or experiences during a particular time frame. These changes allow for better transfer of that data into Google Ads so you can use audience data more effectively in your advertising campaigns.
- Enhanced targeting and personalised advertising by leveraging GA4 audience data in ad campaigns.
- Optimised ad campaign performance through better audience understanding and targeting.
6. Set a Default Conversion Value (July 27, 2023)
- Streamlines the setting of conversion values, especially when specific event data isn’t available. You can set the default conversion value from within the conversions navigation in GA4 – super easy!
7. Ecommerce Dimensions and Metrics in Custom Report Builder (July 20, 2023)
As mentioned, we love eCommerce data, this, after all is the reason for being for many nonprofit fundraising teams – if you can’t see the exact value and type of donation then how can you make clear marketing decisions? Any enhancement to this capability is something we get really excited about.
- Create custom ecommerce reports or modify standard ones with a wide range of ecommerce dimensions and metrics.
8. Updates to Revenue Metrics in Explorations (July 20, 2023)
Yay, more additions to eCommerce capability, although this one comes with a few removals of existing metrics that you’ll need to get your head around, details of which are outlined below.
- New revenue metrics like Gross Item Revenue and Gross Purchase Revenue for better financial analysis in explorations.
- Gross item revenue (The total revenue from items only, excluding tax and shipping)
- Gross purchase revenue (The total revenue from purchases made on your website or app)
- Refund amount (The total amount from refunds given on your website or app)
- Google Analytics also removes the following duplicative revenue metrics from the Metrics picker in explorations:
- Ecommerce revenue
- Event revenue
To create explorations and see revenue from ecommerce transactions, use Purchase revenue. Existing explorations that use these removed metrics will continue to work, but new explorations should use the new revenue metrics instead.
9. New Import Conversions Recommendation (June 28, 2023)
You should always import conversions from GA4 to your Google Ads account (and Ad Grant account). This will make your Google Ads optimisations much more effective and we usually prefer it over the alternative option of using custom Google Ads tracking (after all why set up tracking twice if you can make use of existing data).
- Simplifies the import of web and app conversions from GA4 into Google Ads, optimising bid strategies for improved ad performance.
10. GA4 Audience Export API (June 26, 2023)
This change is a little technical but essentially opens up Google’s audience data to other applications in which you might want to make use of it (previously it was only possible to access this information via direct integrations like Google Ads). You can read more about it here.
- Export user IDs and device IDs of created audiences in GA4, expanding the reach beyond direct integrations like Google Ads or Firebase.
GA4 New Admin Dashboard
As a bonus here’s a quick video tour of the new GA4 admin interface that was released during the week commencing 23rd October 2023:
After GA4’s relatively glacial start, the pace of change has started to increase.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to write another update in a few months with details of even more exciting new features.