Google’s Universal Analytics, which has been around since 2012, will no longer be supported after July 1, 2023. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be taking over, and it’s advantageous for dealers to start the switch now to make sure the transition is seamless.
GA4 has been testing since 2020 and will help dealers with the rapid changes happening in the marketplace regarding privacy and multiple device usage, said Sarah Olsen, the head of analytics and measurement for Google’s automotive division.
“GA4 delivers an enhanced measurement solution, and we’re excited about it,” Olsen said recently in a Digital Air Strike-hosted webinar. “I’m a big fan of this tool because it enables you to see users across websites and apps since customers are bouncing between devices.”
GA4 will help dealers look at all the media the consumer used to get to your site. It will help you better understand your clients, help you make better, smarter decisions, and help you dig into your reporting.
“GA4 can answer what are your user demographics and are you appealing to younger or older consumers,” she said. “It can also answer simple, intuitive questions, like what was the change in traffic day over day.”
GA4 is designed with privacy first in mind as privacy laws have gotten more stringent. It will evolve with the imminent loss of cookies. Olsen said that there is less data available because of the privacy changes, so the new GA4 will help dealers quickly adapt to the changing ecosystem.
“This tool really helps you make sure you’re respecting (consumers’ privacy),” she said. “This integrates all of that into your system.”
Many dealers (48%) have already switched to GA4, while others (35%) are planning to make the switch in the next 90 days, according to a Digital Air Strike poll during the GA4 webinar. The rest (17%) want to switch but need more information.
GA4 measures the performance across all dealer’s campaigns. The analytics can drill down to how consumers engage with the campaigns and figure out which ones work and don’t work. The goal is for the dealer to know which strategies are working best, said Phil Valachi, senior vice president of operations and client success for Digital Air Strike.
“GA4 gives the dealers and their trusted digital marketing partners the ability to use the data to make those data-driven decisions,” Valachi said. “Our goal from Digital Air Strike is to truly be a partner and be an extension of your dealership.”
GA4 is designed to close the gaps in your data because it’s well integrated with multiple platforms, such as when a consumer starts their research on their smartphone and then switches to the dealer’s website.
“GA4 has the great reporting to track customer usage from when they first land on your website to when they request a quote,” Olsen said.
GA4 is designed to be easy to understand. She said you don’t need an analytics degree to get this information.
“Something that would take an analyst a while to figure out now surfaces fast, saving a lot of time,” Olsen said. “Time is invaluable. There are lots of great things about the analytics and insight, such as seeing a decrease or increase in traffic. All of that can be automated.”
Now is the time to prepare for this upgrade to Google Analytics 4. Dual Setup and dual tagging are both recommended to take right now since the older and newer analytics tools measure the data differently. She said this is the way to go, so you have both versions to compare before converting over to GA4 next year.
Work with your website administrator to get your analytics up to date. If tagging is set up correctly, it’s a seamless process and an easy transition. If you’ve already converted, make sure everything is being tracked. If you start now, you can have up to a year’s worth of data to compare, Valachi said.
“The sooner you start, the sooner you can take advantage of all the intel,” he said. “DAS is ready to review these goals with you and can help you get fully set up.”
In July 2023, GA4 will be the source of truth. You don’t want to scramble last minute. You want that trending data as soon as possible. Reach out to Digital Air Strike; our team can help you quickly meet this deadline.
To learn more about why your dealership should migrate to Google Analytics 4, click here to watch Digital Air Strike’s featured on-demand webinar.
Google Analytics 4 Properties Vs. Universal Analytics Properties
This new version of GA4 has a lot to offer, but it’s vital to understand the Google Analytics 4 properties before you start using it.
So, how does Google Analytics compare to the Universal Analytics property, and what does Google Analytics have to offer? Let’s take a look at some of the Google Analytics 4 properties versus Universal Analytics properties:
- Standard Reports: The new Google Analytics only allows you to generate limited standard reports. Universal Analytics, on the other hand, allows you to make nearly limitless standard reports.
- Custom Reports: Google Analytics only allows you to create limited custom reports. Google Analytics 4 properties allow you to make as many custom reports as you want.
- Permanent Filters: Google Analytics 4 offers limited permanent filters, while Universal Analytics offers unlimited permanent filters.
- Automatic Tracking: A Google Analytics account allows you to use automatic tracking, but this isn’t a Universal Analytics property.
- Cross-Platform Tracking: Both of these data collection and analysis services allow you to use cross-platform tracking.
- Google Ads Integration: Both services allow you to integrate Google Ads into your data stream.
Google Analytics Account Reporting Options
Whether you’re using Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 4, you need the ability to turn the data streams into reports. From your app data stream to your web data stream, the new Google Analytics has an excellent custom reporting interface. It also includes several pre-configured reports, including the following:
- All Events
Each of these Google Analytics 4 pre-programmed report formats analyses the data collection that takes place via your app data stream, web data stream, and any other integrated data streams.
The real-time report, for instance, offers a report on the app data stream currently coming in from your application or the web data stream from your website. You can see current user behavior, user interactions, and more. All of this while still respecting user privacy.
Thanks to Google machine learning, the system can collect data about user behavior, analyze mobile apps, user interactions, website performance, and more! This is the ideal way to analyze the customer journey and allows you to streamline marketing campaigns and other activities.
What’s lovely about Google Analytics 4 is that you can also create entirely custom reports. The standard reports are limited, but you have access to limitless custom reports. While Google Analytics collects data using machine learning and other tools, you can create multiple properties and custom reports to give you the information you want most.
If you learn to use Google Tag Manager effectively, you can easily create property settings and tags that allow you to produce customized reports with ease. Each tag is perfectly programmed to process information exactly the way you want.
Is a Google Analytics Account Worth it?
A Google Analytics 4 account is a tremendous asset thanks to its comprehensive analysis hub that can help you analyze new data streams, as well as existing data. By doing so, you can study things like your customer lifecycle and customer journey. This allows you to improve customer experience by tweaking any problem areas you find.
You can also access the analysis hub from multiple devices, making it easier to access the analytics for the desired account.
There are so many more data-driven reasons why GA4 is fantastic. This tool is absolutely worth it and can help you achieve the results you want the most.
Probably the most convincing reason to swap to a Google Analytics 4 account is that Universal Analytics will be phased out soon. For people and companies still working with the older analytics problem, this can mean a serious problem. Better to swap now and protect all your analyses and reports while getting more data in the bargain.
There’s a GA4 property for almost every imaginable purpose, and you can easily create one for anything that isn’t pre-programmed. As with any new software, you will face a slight learning curve. But, in the long run, the enhanced measurement tools and increased data streams make Google Analytics 4 worth your while.
Our recommendation is simple: don’t wait till the passage of time forces you to change analytics software. It’s better to move over now and take the time to learn how to use the program properly. You’ll thank us when you have better reports than anybody else.