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Google Analytics 4 - Why You Should Start Preparing Now

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Google surprised a lot of people when they announced that they will be discontinuing Universal Analytics and replacing it entirely with Google Analytics 4. They also announced changes inside of the platform that will help keep it up to date and relevant in the years to come. 

Google Analytics 4 is coming. And with it, a whole new world of tracking and understanding your website traffic. If you're an affiliate marketer, you need to start preparing now - because this change of platforms could change the way you do business. 

In this article, we'll give you a comprehensive overview of what's changing in GA4 after Universal Analytics shuts down, and show you how to make the most of the new features. So read on - and get ready for the new change!

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It's the most widely used website statistics service, used by over 50% of the top million websites. 

Its been around in some form or another since 2005, and in that time it's undergone a few changes. In those years it managed to become one of the essential tools that affiliate marketers use to understand their website traffic and improve their conversions. 

There have been 4 major versions of the platform so far:

  • Google Analytics (2005)

  • Universal Analytics - UA (2012)

  • Google Analytics 360 (2016)

  • Google Analytics 4 (2020)

GA4 has become the leading platform version since its launch, but a lot of users continued using UA as they were used to it, and it offered a different set of features. But all that is changing now - Universal Analytics is shutting down on July 1st, 2023, and GA will be the only platform available soon. And here is what you need to know about it!

What's Changing in Google Analytics?

So, what exactly is changing? Well, for one thing, the name. "Google Analytics" will now refer to GA's new version - Google Analytics 4

This is because GA will now track not just websites, but also apps, and give you a complete view of your customer's journey across all devices. 

This change in name reflects the changes in how Google Analytics collects data. In the past, it used what's called the "Pageview hit type", where it tracked pageviews and screen views. But now, it's moving to an event-based model. This has a few implications:

  • Interaction tracking
    GA will now track interactions with your website or app - not just pageviews. So if a user clicks on a button or watches a video, GA will track that as an event.

  • Cross-device tracking
    GA will now be able to track users across devices. So if a user visits your website on their desktop, and then later opens your app on their phone, GA will be able to link those two together and understand the user's journey.

  • More ways to track
    GA will now be able to track users even if they don't have cookies or javascript enabled. This is a big change, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for understanding your customer's journey.

    But it also means that some of the old ways of tracking data will no longer work. For example, the "User ID" feature in Universal Analytics will no longer work in GA4. This is because the event-based model doesn't rely on cookies or javascript - so there's no way to track a user ID. But don't worry - there are still ways to track users across devices!

  • Real-Time
    GA will now be able to track users in real-time. This is a huge change, and it means that you'll be able to see what users are doing on your website or app as they're doing it. So those are the big changes coming to Google Analytics. Now let's take a look at some of the new features that you can start using now.

  • Privacy-focused
    GA is now privacy-focused, and it gives you more control over your data. You can now choose to anonymize IP addresses, and you have more control over what data is collected.

  • Data Studio
    GA now has its own data visualization tool, called Data Studio. This is a great way to visualize your data, and it's easy to use.

  • Machine Learning
    GA now uses machine learning to help you understand your data. This is a huge change, and it means that GA will be able to do things like identifying anomalies in your data, give you predictions, and give you insights that you wouldn't have otherwise. 

Those are just some of the changes coming to Google Analytics. So if you're an affiliate marketer, now is the time to start preparing for the switch. 

What Version are you using?

All of this talk about versions and changes might confuse you. If you are wondering what version you are using at the moment, there is a simple way to check. 

Since the end of 2020, GA4 has become the default for all new users, so if you started working after that, you are guaranteed to be on the newest version already. If you have started using the platform beforehand you might still be stuck on the older versions. 

Checking it is simple, just click on the down arrow on the top of your dashboard screen, right to the property name. There you should be able to see the property ID. If it starts with UA, then you are still on Universal Analytics, if there are no letters, but only numbers, congrats, you are on GA4!

If you're using the old version, don't worry -  you can still switch to the new version. Just click on the "Upgrade to Google Analytics 4" button in your property settings. 

Why is it important for affiliate marketers?

Affiliate marketers rely on understanding their website traffic in order to make informed decisions about where to invest their time and money. Google Analytics is an essential tool for understanding which marketing efforts are working, and which aren't. 

With these slight changes, GA will become an even more powerful tool for affiliate marketers. The new features will allow you to track your users across devices, in real-time, and understand their journey better than ever before. 

If you have been using UA for a while, then switching to GA might seem like a lot of work. But don't worry - the switch isn't as dramatic as it might sound in the beginning. 

Is this change positive or negative?

The change from UA to GA is definitely positive. The new features that GA offers are incredibly powerful, and they will make it easier than ever for affiliate marketers to understand their users. 

So if you're an affiliate marketer, now is the time to start preparing for the switch. Upgrade to Google Analytics today, and take advantage of the new features GA offers. You won't regret it!

Final thoughts

If you are still on the previous version of the platform, you should consider upgrading soon. The new features are worth the effort, and you'll be able to make better-informed decisions about your marketing efforts. 

Upgrading is simple and it can be done in just a few clicks. So if you're ready to take your affiliate marketing to the next level, utilize the new features and get started right away!

Are you already using  GA? What do you think about the new features? Share your experience and thoughts with us in the comments below!

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