Why PR and Comms People Need to Get On Board with GA4 and Measurement Now!

An image from a Google blog post to illustrate the concept of GA4 and measurement.

This summer’s Measurement Base Camp covers the powerful new GA4-and-measurement features. Register now!

Mention “GA4 and measurement” to a random selection of comms pros and you’re likely to see a bunch of blank stares, and at best some rolled eyes. I get it. To me it’s one of those things like “the Metaverse” that makes me want to go back into my Covid cocoon and just play catch with my puppy.

But like it or not, both are in our future. Fortunately, no one has given us a firm date by which we need to “be in the Metaverse.” Not so with GA4.

Be prepared: Google Analytics becomes GA4 on 6/30/23

Many comms professionals received a very scary email last month saying that our old familiar Google Analytics is going away as of June 30, 2023. Some organizations have already begun the switch, others are looking into alternatives like Adobe Analytics. But if you’re one of the many that hasn’t even started thinking about it, listen up.

The traditional Google Universal Analytics we’ve come to know and, if not love, at least find useful, will stop collecting any data on June 30, 2023. That means that, if you plan on showing year-on-year progress comparing July 2022 to July 2023, then you need to make the switch now, or else you’ll have a very big “0” in your analytics data after July 1, 2022.

(And if you’re not using Google Analytics or other web analytics program in your metrics, I’ll refrain from expressing my true feelings regarding what you’re missing in your measurement. I do suggest that you dust off your resume. Because someone who is using GA4 is going to come along and take your job, as they’ll be so much more able to demonstrate their contribution to the bottom line.)

Fear not: you are going to really like GA4 and measurement

Here’s the thing: GA4 is such a great improvement, especially for earned media, that you will probably want to start using it tomorrow. GA4 provides a much better way to show earned and owned media’s contribution to whatever outcome your objectives have defined. My favorite improvement is the ease with which we can now change the attribution model, putting an end to that infuriating “last click” attribution that the paid media folks always claimed.

Track visitors

The big difference between what we’re used to and GA4 is that the new platform is built for today’s reality. It has the ability to track visitors’ actions far more accurately than we could ever do before. They’ve taken an all-platform approach to the design, so you get more detail and more accuracy from the data.

GA4 uses AI and predictive analytics to provide us with a “life cycle” approach to your visitors. It provides highly granular visitor data from initial arrival, through the various stages of engagement, to the end goal.

If you’re familiar with my use of “acceptable proxies” to track the progress of a potential lead, client, or supporter, then this is essentially what GA4’s Life Cycle approach provides. You’ll be able to understand and optimize the visitor journey at every step of the way, regardless of what device or platform they are using.

Goal conversions are now events

The other very noticeable difference is that the terminology is radically different. Rather than tracking “goal conversions” it tracks “events.”  We’ve been urging comms pros to use the old “events” tracking as a metric, so this makes perfect sense.

An “event” is now any interaction that a visitor has with your website. So rather than having to create a “goal” from an “event,” GA4 does it for you. Thus the data it can report is much deeper and provides far more insight into your results.

The way it reports data has changed as well, with a format designed to answer questions, not just produce ugly charts and graphs.

Learn more about GA4 and measurement

So please don’t panic about GA4; it’s a big improvement and you are going to like it. To learn more, please join us for the Summer Session of Measurement Base Camp, where we’ll be devoting a lot more time to the how-tos of showing your value with GA4.

In the meantime, here and here and here are more great explanations of the the new capabilities of GA4. ∞

Thanks to the Google blog for the image up top.

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