Google Analytics Update Analysis

google analytics update analysis new features data trends

We’ve recently been spending a good deal of time answering questions about the new Google Analytics update, but I’ve been surprised at the one question I’ve been asking that no one else has asked. What is the value proposition of the new Google Analytics 4? The official blurb from Google’s blog says this: “To help you get better ROI from your marketing for the long term, we’re creating a new, more intelligent Google Analytics that builds on the foundation of the App + Web property we introduced in beta last year. It has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms. 

It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on Analytics even as industry changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers create gaps in your data. The new Google Analytics will give you the essential insights you need to be ready for what’s next.” I don’t know about you but… that’s kind of vague to me. What exactly does that mean? Here’s what we do know, what is tangible: Google Analytics 4 allows you to combine your data from your own mobile app and website together, which is valuable for companies that have both Google Analytics 4 boils everything down to the event level, which means mixing and matching different dimensions and metrics is easier For data nerds, Google Analytics 4 gives you all your raw data in a BigQuery database, which in turn allows you to do advanced analysis on it 

All this comes at a price, unsurprisingly: a completely different interface, new measurement methods, and a total change in your analytics infrastructure to accommodate it. The value proposition for advanced marketers who are comfortable working with Big Data, data science/machine learning, and performing robust analysis is clear. Google Analytics 4 gives us everything we’ve been asking about for years. Raw data. Advanced analysis. Granular tracking. Advanced marketers should get up and running sooner rather than later and reap the rewards. 

The value proposition for non-advanced marketers is much, much less clear. Google Analytics 4 doesn’t just move your cheese, it replaces your chese entirely. You went to bed with a block of cheddar and woke up with a cow next to your bed. Yes, in some ways, cheese is still possible but it’s a lot more complicated than it used to be. The good news is for non-advanced marketers, there isn’t an urgent reason to switch right away. You should still get it up and running in parallel with what you have now (because with all things Google, nothing is ever retroactive), but beyond that, I’m not convinced there’s a strong enough value proposition right now to necessitate sinking a ton of time into it - yet. 

The value may become more clear as the software matures and as advanced marketers build use cases for it, but right now it’s not clear. Thus, if you feel like you don’t get what all the hubbub is about, or you feel like you’re being left behind, or even maybe you feel stupid for not being enthusiastic about Google Analytics 4 - don’t be. It isn’t you. It’s that the value to you (and many marketers) of switching isn’t clear yet, and that’s not your problem - it’s Google’s. 

Which do you want, the process or the product? How many people know how to bake a pie from scratch? Not pick up a box in the freezer section, but “you’ve got a pile of flour and other ingredients in front of you, go!” scratch. Not many. Certainly not many without having to Google it and then spend a whole lot of time on trial and error before baking something that vaguely resembles a pie. That’s the process. Now, how many people know how to eat and enjoy a pie? Probably a lot more. That’s the product. 

Do you need to know how to make a pie from scratch? If you’re a bakery you absolutely need to know how to make a pie from scratch. If you’re someone who is concerned about the ingredients in their food or you have a specific, severe allergy (but you love pie) then you also need to know how to make a pie from scratch. But if you’re hosting a dinner party, you don’t need to know how to make a pie from scratch. You just need to know how to use it - when to serve it, what temperature it should be at, what to serve with it. If you’re contributing to your office pot-luck, you don’t need to know how to make a pie from scratch. You pop by the store, pick one up, and enjoy. Do you see the difference? 

Process is about knowing the intimate innards of the pie and every aspect of how it works. Product is about making use of the pie in a broader context. This is how to think about AI and machine learning. In the case of the bakery, the pie is a core part of their services. In the case of the dinner party, the pie is just an add-on to enhance the experience. AI is the same. Is the use of AI part of your business core competency? Is it part of the secret sauce? Then you’d better know how AI works, the ins and the outs, how to build a model from scratch, the works - the process. If AI is just being used to improve some processes, then you don’t need to build it from scratch. You just need to know - like pie - what constitutes good or bad AI, how to tell good vendors from bad vendors, and how to use the AI once you’ve acquired the technology and software from the vendor - the product. That differentiation governs who you should hire, too. 

You don’t need to hire a baker if making pie from scratch isn’t part of your mandate. You don’t need to hire a dozen AI engineers and data scientists if making AI from scratch isn’t part of your mandate. So, which do you want? Which do you need? The process or the product? How often are you syncing up your audiences? We as consumers have no shortage of platforms to choose from. As marketers and brands, we have to be as many places as our audiences are. One of the consequences of this strategy is that our audiences end up scattered all over the Internet. Someone who follows you on Twitter may not know you have a YouTube channel. 

Someone on your email list may not know about your podcast. And that sucks, because you’re working hard to push content out on all these different platforms and it’s not being seen by as many people as possible. For example, did you know I publish a newsletter every Wednesday that has fresh, unique marketing data, like Instagram TV stats, number of republished links, and all sorts of other marketing data? It’s called In the Headlights, and it’s an excellent complement to this newsletter. If you didn’t know that, then that perfectly illustrates my point. We don’t do enough to sync up our media properties and help our audiences know what’s where. I have a whole block a little further down in this newsletter called Social Sync that shares more of what I have, where, so that you can find the things you’re looking for. 

I also maintain a welcome page with similar information on my website as an easy way to introduce people to the different media I produce. So the takeaway and question is - are you doing this with your media properties? Are you letting people know what’s where, with clear descriptions so people know WHY they should follow you in one place or another? If you’re not, consider the following tactics: 

A regular blurb like this one in your email newsletters A page on your website you share on social media frequently A section in your newsletters with common links Shared links in your blog pointing to your other properties Promotional resources (like a welcome/tour video on YouTube) Don’t put a ton of effort into creating media without spending just as much effort distributing and promoting it! It’s better for you, and it helps you serve your audience better by helping them find what they want, where they want it. The sooner you realize that, the sooner your Google Analytics data will improve and business will grow.

Google Analytics is constantly evolving, so make sure you stay up to date with the latest features and changes!