Show Notes For GA4 Is Here, But Don’t Expect Big Changes
Google recently deployed Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to better comply with privacy laws and user demands, but at Data Dames, we don’t think things will be much different. In this podcast episode, we explain why. Topics include:
- Individual vs. group tracking
- AI and machine learning
- GA4 set up
- Search engine business models
What Are We Drinking?
Small Business Shoutout
What are we learning?
Annalisa: reading Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America and taking good care of 30+ house plants.
Jen: trying out the Clubhouse app.
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Note: This content was created, and is best consumed, as audio, an intimate communication experience. Transcripts fail to capture tone, voice inflection, emphasis, and the other characteristics of audio that make it so personal. So, we hope you’ll listen.
If you do choose to read, please be aware this transcript was created using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a little bit of human editing; it may contain mistakes and typos.
[Meaningful, Measurable Marketing Podcast Intro]
Jen Carroll 0:54
So today, we are going to be talking about GA4. Yeah, so Annalisa, what does GA4 stand for?
Annalisa Hilliard 1:06
Google Analytics 4. It’s been around for about a year and prior to was Google Analytics Apps Plus Web.
Jen Carroll 1:15
Hey, well, I think Google really outdid itself with this creative name for its new iteration, GA4.
Annalisa Hilliard 1:24
Yeah, right. Well, we might be able to blame that on the marketing world.
Jen Carroll 1:28
Annalisa Hilliard 1:29
I don’t know that it was Google that had the first swing at it. Although it could have been. I don’t know.
Jen Carroll 1:35
So you think it was kind of like organic? Oh, it , it was an organic naming process?
Annalisa Hilliard 1:42
Potentially. Well, I guess we’ll never know. Well, actually, it’s not true. Google it.
Jen Carroll 1:49
Okay. Oh, well, Google has deployed GA4 to better comply with privacy laws and user demands. But the Data Dames assert that things won’t be much different than before. And here’s why. So, before we get into the here’s why, we are actually
Annalisa Hilliard 2:10
I know you’re on the edge of your seats.
Jen Carroll 2:11
Yeah, I know. We’re we’re gonna first digress and talk about, What are we drinking? I know.
Annalisa Hilliard 2:22
Right, so what are we drinking?
Jen Carroll 2:24
Well, we have been drinking Bent Tree coffee from Kent, Ohio. Well, it’s roasted in Kent, Ohio.
Annalisa Hilliard 2:33
Right the coffee is not grown there.
Jen Carroll 2:35
Oh, yeah. Well, I think most people can take a could could figure that out. Yeah, yeah. So locally roasted and our favorite Bent Tree Coffee is
Annalisa Hilliard 2:46
Ethiopian Guji. It is delicious.
Jen Carroll 2:49
Yeah, it’s it’s definitely one of our go-to’s right now. Is is the Ethiopian Guji. So thank you, Bent Tree, for some excellent coffee. As an extra added bonus today. In an extra What are we drinking today? It is almost 12 o’clock on a Friday and I decided that it was time to finish my last Great Lakes Brewing Co. Conway’s Irish Ale. I had one left and it only comes out in the spring.
Annalisa Hilliard 3:21
You need to be funny.
Jen Carroll 3:22
Oh, which is never!
Annalisa Hilliard 3:25
Yeah, we’re not talking about the beer that comes out when we podcast. We’re talking about Irish.
Jen Carroll 3:31
Irish. Yes. Always Irish ale. It is my favorite Great Lakes. And actually one of my favorite beers of pretty much all time.
Annalisa Hilliard 3:40
What I’m drinking is high quality h2o. Oh,
Jen Carroll 3:45
what would you be drinking?
Annalisa Hilliard 3:47
That’s a reference by the way. Waterboy. Adam Sandler. Oh, yeah. That was a long time ago, everybody.
Jen Carroll 3:53
Yeah, yeah. Seriously.
Annalisa Hilliard 3:54
Anyway, moving on. What I would be drinking, aside from water,
Jen Carroll 3:58
because she really wants to complain about this.
Annalisa Hilliard 4:00
There is a cider company, believe it’s out of Michigan, called Down East, and they make some good ciders. I had gotten a grapefruit cider in a pick six pack, and I was out of the office on business. Sure enough. When I get home later, I went to get the cider and it was missing. I don’t know if the dogs drank it or if it fell on the floor. Or teleported somewhere.
Jen Carroll 4:38
Oh, ummm, it was really good by the way. So when you returned to the office and discovered it was missing, I was caught red handed.
Annalisa Hilliard 4:49
Jen Carroll 4:50
Year, but I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t realize it was like special. I shouldn’t
Annalisa Hilliard 4:56
Have you ever seen a grapefruit cider before?
Jen Carroll 4:58
Annalisa Hilliard 4:59
That’s pretty special.
Jen Carroll 5:00
Okay, true, true, but I yeah, I just, I just really well moving on. Alright, moving on.
Annalisa Hilliard 5:06
I’ll bring it up later.
Jen Carroll 5:07
Okay. She’s actually, Yeah, she’s actually brought it up probably 20 times since that happened. Okay. So let’s move on to our small business shout out. And today it’s, we’re not actually going to shout out a small business, we are going to shout out a great nonprofit here in Canton called Lighthouse Ministries. We actually support Lighthouse with a lot of different things related to website and although their website, ummm
Annalisa Hilliard 5:36
Yeah, so basically, don’t go to their website and think that we actually created the website.
Jen Carroll 5:41
Yeah, that’s really important. But stay tuned on that front this year,
Annalisa Hilliard 5:47
But that’s not fair. It’s not the worst website.
Jen Carroll 5:49
Annalisa Hilliard 5:50
just on the back end.
Jen Carroll 5:51
And it needs some, it needs some mobile help. But the Lighthouse Ministry is fantastic group of folks. We love what they do in Southeast Canton, they have been for the past 20 years deeply embedded in the community they serve. So the folks who actually work at the Ministry live in that part of the city, and they really have developed relationships with the community. And that’s just the best way we feel to go about that kind of nonprofit work. So kind of on the in the news, they’re starting a branch of Bethel University. They’re at the lighthouse ministry called BU Canton.
Annalisa Hilliard 6:30
Glad it’s not BO
Jen Carroll 6:33
Annalisa Hilliard 6:35
No one would want to go to that.
Jen Carroll 6:38
All right, we’re not we’re not going to instruct them at all on branding, right? I’m pretty sure Bethel University has had that name for quite a long time. But anyway, BU Canton is affordable. It’s local. It’s it’s just a great program for those who are maybe have a more challenging time going to college. And
Annalisa Hilliard 6:56
and yeah, getting the finances.
Jen Carroll 6:59
Right. Yeah. So it’s a great program. We’re excited that it’s here. And hopefully we at some point, we’ll have an intern from from BU Canton. That’s our that’s our hope.
Annalisa Hilliard 7:09
You can learn more about the Lighthouse and view programs on the Lighthouse website, which is cantonlighthouse.org.
Jen Carroll 7:16
Cantonlighthouse.org. Well, let’s get back to the premise of today’s show, which is, I will give everybody a reminder that Google has deployed GA4 to better comply with privacy laws and user demands, but things won’t be much different. And now we’re going to get to the here’s why, even though GA4 will no longer collect data at the individual level, a ton of historical data already exists. Annalisa, this is definitely your bailiwick. Why does it matter that a ton of historical data already exists?
Annalisa Hilliard 7:50
Well, to give a little background, the original Google Analytics was upgraded to Universal Analytics, which is what the platform that we use now. And then in that hop between the two, there was like 15 years that the current iteration of Google Analytics has been around. And so obviously, they’ve improved the platform. But all of that time, they’ve been collecting data, that data as
Jen Carroll 8:15
Annalisa Hilliard 8:16
Yeah. So in order to acc, obviously, to access your historical data, they have to house that data somewhere. Just think about if you’ve been into the backend of your analytics, and can understand how you can change the date range to see back as far as you installed Google Analytics. Let’s just say as five years, it has five years of data, collecting data every day, every hour, every minute for every page of your website. So
Jen Carroll 8:44
Didn’t you get tell me some statistic the other day, something like 20% of web content or something is actually
Annalisa Hilliard 8:52
Yes. So, bandwidth of the internet 25%, actually, of the bandwidth of the internet is used up by Google Analytics.
Jen Carroll 9:01
Wow. I mean, that to me that just like, that blows my mind right there. So okay, so this is great. They’re not collecting individual level data, and everybody’s excited. But they have all this historical data. So in other words, you feel like they’re going to continue to use all that individual data, because it’s not like anybody’s making them erase it.
Annalisa Hilliard 9:22
Yeah, yes. And no, I mean, actually, they are going to want to get rid of that data and not have to store it. Okay. But I think what they’ve done is they’ve used machine learning, and trained AI with that data. And so they’re not starting at square one with those things. And so those those will factor into the new methods of tracking and I should say that Google Analytics 4 currently is very stripped down and they will be obviously continuing to kind of work on it in beta right now. Yes, you can install it on your site. But I wouldn’t transition from your current analytics platform to GA4 yet. I would say it probably will be a year or so until Google starts talking about transitioning. And yeah, so I would collect I mean, you can collect data and Google Analytics 4, and I would would advise doing that. But I would also continue to collect data with Universal Analytics,
Jen Carroll 10:25
or both at the same time. Now, you know, people, some people are marketers, maybe specifically are upset that cookies are going away.
Annalisa Hilliard 10:34
So I mean, who isn’t? But we all like chocolate chip cookies.
Jen Carroll 10:40
I know, right? That’s because I
Jen Carroll 10:41
no joke about cookies. Okay. So what I guess you want to? Can we talk to that a little bit to that a little bit?
Annalisa Hilliard 10:48
Jen Carroll 11:38
okay, so they’re not going to collect it on an individual level using cookies, they’re going to collect it, how
Annalisa Hilliard 11:45
they’re going to use groups. Again, I think they’re gonna take it from what they’ve gathered already with machine learning and AI using the data that they have, historically, or anyone that’s installed analytics on their website
Jen Carroll 12:00
to just be like, it’s kind of like being in a crowd or being that’s, that’s the idea right behind it. You’re right,
Annalisa Hilliard 12:06
so they have so much data that they have been able to essentially group people into
Jen Carroll 12:12
By behavior? By
Annalisa Hilliard 12:14
Yes, by behavior, I believe, again, all of this stuff is just kind of new. And so there isn’t a ton of information out about it yet. And they’re still working on evolving the platform. So but it’s, it’s definitely supposed to get away from the individual tracking using cookies, and ensuring people that you know, they have more privacy.
Jen Carroll 12:36
Except that they really like that idea that, you know, their shopping cart remembers that they put you know, a rug in there the other day.
Annalisa Hilliard 12:45
There’s obviously good things to having targeted tracking, but in cookies now, is a good, is a good outweigh the bad? I guess we’ll see. Time will tell.
Jen Carroll 12:56
So so. Okay, we’re, you know, again, we’re, we’re saying that, yep, this whole new platform is is is out in beta, and it’s going to better comply with privacy laws and user demands, things won’t be much different. And the second reason for that is GA4 promises to minimize analytics set up out of the box. But you’re gonna contend, Annalisa, that marketers won’t see much time savings. Why is that?
Annalisa Hilliard 13:26
Yeah, so they’ll, they’ll say, you know, you don’t have to set up XYZ anymore. I wouldn’t say set for goals, you don’t have to set up goals, or you don’t have to set up events, because it’s actually based on instead of the current analytics is based on pageviews. And sessions, the Google Analytics for will be based on event. And so all event
Jen Carroll 13:47
had like an event is like somebody like a click, okay, it could be as simple as
Annalisa Hilliard 13:50
a click, a scroll,
Jen Carroll 13:52
maybe as big as filling out
Annalisa Hilliard 13:53
a video watch, a form fill. So it’s already collecting all of the events, but you have to go into each event and set parameters to really get get any insights on those events. Right now, like if you just go into the platform, say you’ve collected data for a while, which I’ve installed on our client websites, and you know, I have a couple months worth of data, and I can go in there and see, there were X number of clicks. So what like there’s no other surrounding data that’s already there.
Jen Carroll 14:27
Right. I think you told me that out of the box. There’s like, some kind of like generic reporting, but it was a lot of So what kind of stuff right? So I feel like people perceive data analytics as one of those really technical and challenging kinds of things to work with. And here we’re kind of getting this promise that out of the box that this is going to be way easier, but again, you’re saying not so fast, right?
Annalisa Hilliard 14:59
Yeah. And so I mean, a lot of people currently using like Google Analytics, if you’ve just recently started, you’re like, Well, hey, the Google Analytics, Universal Analytics is great. Why are we, you know, why are we moving in this direction, obviously, the privacy thing, but to get it to that point, they had to do a ton of, you know, evolutions of the platform. And, and marketers really were part of that they would have calls with marketers, and they would just like, kind of walk through the platform and say, hey, how do you use this? You know, what is this? What do you need? Essentially, that, you know, they want to be a product that marketers use and that businesses find helpful. So I think it will evolve. I know, they’re rolling out new things every week or two, they’re adding kind of new capabilities, new reports, things like that. So but
Jen Carroll 15:48
the bottom line is, you’re still going to need lots of knowledge and skill to set this up? Oh,
Annalisa Hilliard 15:53
yeah, I think it’s still gonna be a huge learning curve for most people, especially if you don’t have, well, actually, I would say, if you if you can start going in there now and just kind of clicking around, that’s probably going to be the best. It’s not anything like the current Google Analytics. So even if you if you feel like I’m a pro, I mean, there might be some some helpful things and just kind of understanding how Google sets things up. But it’s very different.
Jen Carroll 16:22
adds up, folks, if you thought that maybe this was going to make it simpler, it’s just playing sounds like it’s just playing different and still need knowledge and skill to to assist in this area. Okay, so our third reason why we assert that things aren’t going to be much different with GA4. And that is the Google and other tech companies haven’t changed their business model. Oh, you know, they, they sell our attention. They’re, essentially that’s, that’s what Google does. And Facebook and all the others, they’re, they’re selling our attention. So ad outcomes will be similar, if not better, because that’s their bread and butter,
Annalisa Hilliard 17:01
just like I said, I mean, obviously, they want to have a platform that businesses and marketers use and find helpful, because at the end of the day, that’s how they like said, that’s how they make their money. If you’re not getting as good a return on your ads, they can lose huge revenue. And so they have a lot of reason to make sure that it’s still something that people find valuable.
Jen Carroll 17:24
Right. And, you know, he know that tech companies in general, have been investing in all kinds of ways to keep on their particular platform. I mean, that’s, that’s because they can show people more ads, they can sell more attention, the longer that you’re on their platform, the more ads that they can show you. So again, this until they change that business model till they come up with another way to make their millions and billions. They’re going to make sure that still works, I guess.
Jen Carroll 17:55
So just just to summarize, yes, Google Analytics 4 is out has been actually for a while, but it’s meant to better comply with privacy laws and user demands. But from our vantage point here at Data Dames, we don’t expect to see things be a whole lot different. Now, the interface itself different. But in terms of like, our first point was, yep, they’re gonna get away from collecting data at the individual level, but they’ve still got years and years of historical data that they can they can draw from machine learning, Ai, all that stuff. Again, the idea that this is going to be way easier to set up out of the box, nope, not really, you’re still going to need a lot of knowledge and skill to setup GA4 And finally, that, you know, the business model itself hasn’t changed. So while we can rejoice, I think that less individual data is being collected. I mean, I personally feel good about that. I know that they’re still selling, still selling my attention. That’s, that’s what they’re selling. And they’re going to make sure that that is going to be lucrative. And, you know, obviously, we work with clients who want to buy search engine ads, and I get it. And you know, we’re not here to say like, oh, all advertising is bad. Or I certainly would say I like it actually, when I get an ad that is like, like, is a strong term. But when an ad is relevant to me, I appreciate that sometimes, especially if it’s a product I wasn’t aware of and might actually fit a need. But again, overall, we can expect to still see somehow that’s that’s still going to be what’s happening out there. Search Engine ads, and Facebook ads and all the other ads.
Jen Carroll 19:35
So our final segment is one of my favorites. What are we learning or what’s bringing us joy? Annalisa, do you want to share first what what are you learning?
Annalisa Hilliard 19:46
Yes. So what I’m learning I’m reading a book called Golden Gate fighting for housing in America. And it is about the housing crisis specifically in San Francisco and it definitely has application for All the United States.
Jen Carroll 20:01
Why is this kind of on your mind?
Annalisa Hilliard 20:02
I mean, obviously I feel like I’ve been affected by the the cost of housing especially as a single person and not being able to save for downpayment as housing prices rise while paying off school loans and other bills. Yeah, I think it’s it’s kind of on my mind that way and certainly I feel like I have advantage over over other people. And there’s people out there that struggle even more so with not having the means to have an asset like a house, so and then the other thing that I’ve been enjoying, I just repotted a bunch of my house plants, like a week ago, and I’m already seeing growth. That’s cool. Yeah, I have about 30. houseplants maybe. I guess you could say I live in a jungle. Yeah, they don’t. Yeah, it’s
Jen Carroll 20:57
not just a little corner.
Annalisa Hilliard 20:59
solarium. Yeah, that’s, yeah, yeah.
Jen Carroll 21:02
30 house plants. How do you find time for your house plants? Do you give them love?
Annalisa Hilliard 21:08
I mean, it’s like kids. How do you find time for kid who’s
Jen Carroll 21:10
Okay, house plants, kids.
Annalisa Hilliard 21:12
I see. I don’t have to drag them to like sports, and extracurriculars. But he just I do talk to them. Yeah. And I
Jen Carroll 21:21
Does that help?
Annalisa Hilliard 21:24
I think it does.
Jen Carroll 21:26
Do you name them?
Annalisa Hilliard 21:27
Yeah. Although I can’t keep 30 names straight. So just a couple of them.
Jen Carroll 21:33
Which house plant? Are you the most proud of?
Annalisa Hilliard 21:37
I have a cactus that when I got it. Like five years ago, it was maybe three inches tall. Wow. And now it’s like the cactus now is probably three or four feet tall.
Jen Carroll 21:52
Whoa. Okay, folks, I have seen this cactus. It is very impressive. Yes. Oh, Stanley. Stanley. I don’t think I knew you hadn’t. I don’t think you knew you named it
Annalisa Hilliard 22:03
till just now. Well, it’s
Jen Carroll 22:06
a it’s the podcast where she named the plant!
Annalisa Hilliard 22:09
Alright, so on to you, Jen. Okay, what have you been learning and what’s been bringing you joy?
Jen Carroll 22:15
Ah, so I have been
Annalisa Hilliard 22:18
Jen Carroll 22:19
Oh, I never actually I don’t overachieve anymore. Thanks, COVID. I have been getting into the Clubhouse app a bit. I’ve been I’ve been on there for a while. I do I do hop on daily. For those of you who don’t know about Clubhouse or haven’t been on there yet, Clubhouse is kind of an innovative social media app, it kind of reminds me of some kind of crazy mix between traditional radio and podcasting, and like conferences and seminars. So somehow, the intersection kind of sits at the intersection of those three things. So when you see when you have like, Yeah, no, it’s it’s all audio. It’s a totally audio based app. And when you when you get into it, you know,
Annalisa Hilliard 23:05
So that’s good. I can be like taking a shower while I listen to Clubhouse.
Jen Carroll 23:09
You could be.
Annalisa Hilliard 23:10
Can’t do that on Zoom. I mean
Jen Carroll 23:12
No Zoom. So when you when you get onto the platform, they call their talks rooms, and you know, you they all have various topics, and you can jump into a room audio only. And there’s a quote unquote, stage, there’s people who are presenting.
Annalisa Hilliard 23:34
Is it just marketing?
Jen Carroll 23:35
No, it’s not. It’s it’s subjects of all kind, although I have a comment about that toward the end about just marketing or just whatever. But so you jump in, and there’s generally a few people on the stage there, maybe have some level of expertise on this topic. And they’re and they’re talking and then you can see everybody else in the room who is just listening. And then sometimes you’ll you as a listener can jump up on stage and share your expertise or whatever, you know, and it’s live. That’s the key that’s like old radio, right? So you’ve got like, something going on back to it. Right. And well, some of them I do see now are announcing when they record. So some some of these talks are being recorded. But for the most part, they’re happening in real time, and people are on the app simultaneously. It’s not asynchronous. So many of our social media apps are you know, you check in whenever you have time and and you just kind of jump in on the written conversation. Usually, whenever you have a moment. This is this is live and synchronous and not recorded, in most cases.
Jen Carroll 24:36
And you’d asked earlier about is it just marketers? No, I mean, there’s, there’s people from all backgrounds there and all different interests. And I’d say probably one of the best things about the Clubhouse app that I noticed immediately is it really clearly appeals to minorities. So we have a lot of African Americans, you know, sharing their knowledge and thoughts and I’ve seen people from a wide range of minorities really adopting this early. So that’s really nice because that means the conversation isn’t so typical and I guess one sided in terms of like, who has the who has the stage?
Jen Carroll 25:12
I would say though the biggest problem I have with clubhouse is the lack of it being asynchronous because honestly i a lot of the conversations I want to jump in on are going on while I’m at work, or I’m doing something else and I can’t like a podcast on like a podcast, I can go back and listen to it at my leisure. So that’s one of the biggest reasons that I don’t really participate as much and jump in on it. Certainly there’s a lot of great strategies going on around around Clubhouse.
A digital marketing professional since 2011, Annalisa is a technical SEO with a Google Analytics certification and a passion for data. When she’s not helping clients improve their website performance, she’s off on a hike, riding her bike (affectionately named Newton), or getting lost in a good book, article, or podcast with a cup of locally roasted coffee or craft IPA in hand.
Jen Carroll writes. She excels at making complicated things understandable, telling a compelling story, and developing manageable plans to achieve big ideas. She’s the content marketing and social media advising half of the dynamic Data Dames duo.