Privacy by Design: The Benefits of GA4Back to Blog
July 1st, 2023 is the big day, Universal Analytics will be replaced by GA4. Have you made the switch yet?
If you have, you’re probably already seeing the benefits that GA4 brings. This is the fourth version of Google Analytics and it was developed in response to privacy laws, like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). So it’s no surprise that the main benefit is… privacy!
“Google Analytics 4 is designed with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for both our customers and their users. It helps businesses meet evolving needs and user expectations, with more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage.”
That’s from Google themselves, but let’s look at the features and details:
Data Storage Duration
GA4 offers just two data storage options. You can either choose to retain data for two months or 14 months, depending on how you process your data. This is a really helpful way of ensuring that you don’t keep data for longer than necessary, but it will alarm some companies. If you do need to keep your data for longer, don’t panic, you can always store data for an extended period using a data warehouse like BigQuery – which is now included for free.
Universal Analytics collected IP addresses by default, if you wanted to anonymise them you had to activate that feature manually. According to GDPR, IP addresses are considered online identifiers, so if you hadn’t activated that feature you could find yourself in hot water. In GA4 though, the feature is activated by default and can’t be switched off.
Personally Identifiable Information
GA4 doesn’t easily let users collect personally identifiable information (PPI) and it’s actually considered a violation of Google’s Terms of Service to capture PII in GA4. If you are found to be collecting PPI, Google may delete all the data in your GA4 account.
This is a feature that allows you to modify the behaviour of Google tags on your site, depending on your users consent selections. When launching a new GA4 implementation, you can configure your tags by using this mode – ensuring that your tracking responds to users consent preferences appropriately.
What else will it do?
Among other things, GA4 will also let you:
- Track users across multiple devices and platforms – including mobile apps, web apps and websites
- Predict user behaviour using AI insights
- Share GA4 data with other Google products like Google Ads or Google Signal
So although we might not have a choice in using GA4, at least it comes with some very real benefits.
If you haven’t yet made the switch…
Until July 1st, 2023, you’ll still be able to use and collect traffic data in your existing analytics account. After that you’ll have six months to access historical data. During that time you can export all your old reports, but be warned – after that, all the historical data will be gone.
If you’ve not made the change yet and it seems a bit scary or confusing, don’t worry. We can help you make the switch to GA4, save your historical data and tailor the functionality to your organisation. If you have started using GA4 but you’re not convinced you’re getting the most out of it yet, we can help with that too. Get in touch with us for a quick chat about how we can help.