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GA4’s AI: Everything you need to know about artificial intelligence in Google Analytics 4

Artificial intelligence plays a vital role in Google Analytics 4. Here’s what you need to know before the final switchover to GA4 on July 1.

Stop someone on the street and ask them what they think when they hear “AI.”

You’ll likely hear a few answers. ChatGPT. Automation. Computers taking over the human race. 

Many conversations about AI are warped by preconceptions. These range from sci-fi ideas about AI capabilities, to limited understandings of AI’s use based on specific services. 

Artificial intelligence plays a vital role in Google Analytics 4.*

Forget ChatGPT and forget science-fiction. To understand AI’s role in GA4, you need to understand exactly what Google is using it for, and how it can help you.

*If you haven’t already made the switch to Google Analytics 4, time is running out – Google’s old reporting platform, Universal Analytics, discontinues on July 1, 2023. Speak to me now if you need help in transitioning over. 

AI Insights 

One of GA4’s most significant new features is its AI-driven “Insights” panel. 

GA4’s AI Insights can automatically identify opportunities and surface insights from your data that would be difficult to identify manually. It can also identify trends and predict irregularities. 

These insights can help you better understand your customers’ behaviour. By leveraging GA4’s AI-driven insights, you can make more informed decisions and get ahead of the competition.

Here are some examples: 

Example of GA4 AI-driven insights, here indicating that organic search drove a high number of conversions in April 2022
Another example of GA4 AI Insights, showing that the expected number of users dropped, but page views for a certain page spiked on the same date

This use of AI was introduced to help fill the gaps in analytics data that third-party cookies left behind. 

The cookie gap

Cookies are small blocks of data which are used to track individual users. There are two types of cookies, first-party cookies and third-party cookies. 

  • First-party cookies connect the user to their data on one site (saving your password, for example) 
  • Third-party cookies enable tracking across multiple sites

Third-party cookies have become heavily regulated in recent years. 

As of 2019, UK law requires webpages to get explicit permission from users before tracking them using cookies. By 2020, restrictions like these had led to a 40-60% drop in recorded sessions across many of the sites we were reporting on.  

Restricting third-party cookies is a step forward for online privacy, but it has left data giants like Google playing catch up. This is where the predictive ability of GA4’s AI Insights now plays a crucial role. 

It is essential to start using GA4 sooner rather than later to ensure a seamless transition and continued access to valuable data. However, it’s also important to understand its limits.

Everyone is talking about AI, but to use it effectively, it’s vital to understand its particular uses in different contexts. 

GA4’s AI does not mean that your analytics will be able to run itself automatically, that human input can be cut out, or that robots are coming for your job. In GA4’s case, AI works as a partial solution to the huge gap in user data that third-party cookies have left behind, helping users gain more insights with less data.

Learn more about GA4

More help

For more help making sense of Google Analytics 4 and your website data, read about our Analytics & dashboards services or email me at [email protected].

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