Google Analytics v4 – What is it and should you upgrade?

The current version of Google Analytics is being discontinued this July and being replaced by Google Analytics version 4. While they are saying it’s better for privacy, now might be a good time to switch to a more privacy respecting web analytics platform.

What’s new in Google Analytics v4?

While the marketing copy says it’s more effective, more privacy respecting and now uses AI (buzzword of 2023..), realistically we can expect more of the same from Google.

Explore Google Analytics 4, the next generation of Analytics which collects event-based data from both websites and apps

  • Collects both website and app data to better understand the customer journey
  • Uses event-based data instead of session-based
  • Includes privacy controls such as cookieless measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling
  • Predictive capabilities offer guidance without complex models
  • Direct integrations to media platforms help drive actions on your website or app

Marketing fluff from https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/10089681?hl=en

What about cookies?

V4 still uses cookies, so you will still need that annoying cookie banner on your website. To actually comply with GDPR you should be gaining explict consent before allowing Google or any one else to set cookies for your website visitors. A link to your privacy page and only showing an ‘accept’ button is not acceptable under GDPR.

With cookies being all over the news they are the main thing we tend to think about. Be aware that Google consistently push the boundaries of our privacy as their business is selling our data. Tracking through their Chrome browser, browser ‘fingerprinting’ that identifies us without cookies and all kinds of other sketchy methods are used to harvest our browsing habits, so maybe it’s time to use analytics that doesn’t do all this dodgy stuff and push the limits of GDPR.

Google are an advertising company first and foremost. More about privacy issues with their analytics products:

Non-cookie website analytics

There are various website analytics services that don’t use cookies or sell user data. I use Plausible for those reasons and because they don’t use annoyinh marketing tactics. They also give some of their profits to charity. We can’t moan about big tech but carry on using their products without being huge hypocrites. I use Plausible myself and absolutely love the simple, easy to read graphs and the fact I don’t need a cookie banner any more!

plausible alternative google analytics gdpr

If you are continuing with Google Analytics…

If you want to carry on using GA, login now and create a v4 property for your website. It only takes a few minutes and will avoid any interruption of your website tracking. If you’re using a WordPress plugin like Google Sitekit or Monster Insights (ugh) then that new property will need wiring up in the plugin settings so your website keeps tracking data as Analytics v3 goes offline.

Guide from Google on how to upgrade to v4: Add a Google Analytics 4 property (to a site that already has Analytics)

Summary

Google Analytics is being upgraded to a different version this July. WIth all the privacy issues around using Google products, now might be a good time to switch to privacy respecting alternative website analytics like Plausible which allows you to remove that irritating cookie banner from your website.

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