Google Analytics Changes in 2021
Google Analytics has changed! Before the default was Universal Analytics or UA – now Google has moved to Google Analytics 4 or GA4. When you set up a new Analytics property, GA4 will be the default.
If you run Google Ads at all, you will have recently received an email saying
Starting in May 2021, we’ll set a first-party cookie with a new identifier that is unique and limited to users on your site only. Among other things, this will help to improve the accuracy of your conversion measurement.
So what do these new changes mean?
If you’re already set up with Google Analytics, and/or running Google Ads, there’s nothing to do for the shift in First Party from Third Party cookies. Google will change the way info is tracked and you won’t have to do anything, even if you’re running UA. All this means is that tracking data will be controlled and processed by your site and not by the broader Google ecosystem (at least at the cookie level). This is in line with new privacy-focused changes coming across the web.
What is Google Analytics 4?
The new Google Analytics allow you to track and measure actions your visitors take in real-time such as a page scroll or video play without you having to set up any code. You can still set up custom events (such as a free trial booking – see the video at the end of this blog for more detail) – but Google will try and track the most popular events for you.
You may have heard about third-party cookies being phased out, some browsers are already blocking them and we have discussed the iOS changes on this blog before. Google says that not all visitors, events or conversion will be tracked (this is true even now with many web-users using some kind of ad-blocking software or VPNs). Google’s new analytics will rely on machine learning to fill in any gaps in the data.
Russell Ketchum, Group Product Manager, Google Analytics has said:
“We’ll have event data but not necessarily a user identifier associated with it. We’ll have gaps in data altogether and this is going to be true of all measurement providers,”
Google Analytics 4 will be the default option when you set up a new analytics account. You can still set up and use Universal Analytics however Google recommends Google Analytics 4, and all future development will focus on GA4 – so if you want to future-proof your site this is the best thing to do.