The Cookieless Future: Collecting, Injecting, Modeling, and Activating Data in GA4

Jimmy McCann

Head of Digital Strategy


Google Analytics 360

When Google announced its new analytics platform, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), in July 2019, marketers had to prepare to adapt to Google’s new ways of presenting and reporting on data.

Then, six months later, Google followed up with the news that third-party cookies were soon to be removed and that they were no longer an effective data collation method. As of this article (May 2024), Google has pushed back third-party cookie deprecation twice, with a speculative removal period being late 2024 or early 2025.

Although it sounds a long way off, third-party cookies will be removed before we know it. Even now, over four years since the initial announcement, 16% of decision-makers have not planned to use GA4 as a cookieless solution. So, now is the ideal time to prepare for the impending cookieless future. Knowing people have had issues using Google Analytics 4, our experts were joined by our Google Partners to present the GA4 Summit: Getting the Most out of Google Analytics 4 in a Post-Cookie World.

Watch the introduction to the GA4 Summit here:

 

The changing expectations for a digital marketer

 

Consumer complexity continues to accelerate as third-party cookies continue to crumble. More than half of consumers use five or more online sources before buying. Out of the billions of searches conducted daily on Google, over 15% of users are ‘new’ and have never been seen before.

The use of channels, devices, and formats by audiences includes more touchpoints than anybody can manage alone. Users are increasingly concerned about how their information is collected for online advertising and data privacy. These changes mean digital marketing and measurement will lose functionality and effectiveness if marketers don’t change their processes.

That’s why GA4’s design embodies Google’s industry-leading approach to privacy and changes in the marketing ecosystem. Google Analytics 4 mitigates third-party cookie loss by leveraging first-party-based measurement and robust conversion modeling. Marketers can then get a more accurate picture of web and app performance through collecting, injecting, modeling, and activating available data in GA4.

For our GA4 Summit series, our internal experts and external partners at Google present what each of the four stages looks like in Google Analytics 4, how implementation leads clients to success, and how each method combines to form a future-proofed solution in the ever-evolving marketing industry.

 

 

 

The GA4 Summit Series

 

Session #1: How GA4 Works and Why You Should Collect Better Data

 

The first episode of our GA4 Summit series, led by our Head of Analytics, Paul Shearing, examines how to understand and trust GA4. Paul contextualizes the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4, why Google Analytics 4 is the more effective attribution solution, and why setting up consent mode is vital in gaining a more holistic view of user data in the future.

 

 

The opening slide to the section called 'Collect' in the GA4 Summit series run by Search Laboratory digital marketing agency,

 

Session #2: Why You Should Inject First-Party Data into GA4

 

For the second part of our GA4 Summit series, Paul provides an overview of the term ‘first-party data.’ Paul demonstrates three ways experts can inject first-party data into GA4 and how server-side Google Tag Manager can enhance your marketing analytics.

 

A slide about 'inject' which is the second section of the GA4 Summit series run by Search Laboratory digital marketing agency.

 

Session #3: How In-Platform and Out-of-Platform Models Are Applied and Why They Improve upon ‘Raw’ Data

 

Alice Crawley, Senior Sales Engineer at Google, starts this episode explaining modeling, which is the focus of the third episode of our GA4 Summit series. Alice focuses on the different types of in-platform modeling available in Google Analytics 4 and the unique benefits they each bring to the tool.

 

 

The opening slide to the third section of the GA4 Summit 'Model' hosted by Search Laboratory digital marketing agency.

 

Following Alice’s discussion about in-platform modeling, Jimmy McCann, our Head of Digital Strategy, joins the discussion to consider out-of-platform modeling. He highlights how BigQuery plays into the out-of-platform model process and shares use cases of what out-of-platform modeling can achieve in GA4.

A slide from the GA4 Summit event by Search Laboratory which focuses on 'Models' in GA4.

 

Session #4: How and Why You Should Activate Enriched Data in Google Analytics 4

 

Jimmy McCann returns to lead the fourth part of our GA4 Summit series, which tackles activating data in Google Analytics 4 so it can improve marketing performance. Learn how GA4 is a conduit for audience and monetary value activation. Jimmy also shares use cases where GA4 activation has led to great success for retail businesses.

 

The title slide to the section of the GA4 Summit called 'Activate', an event run by Search Laboratory digital marketing agency.

2024 will forever be seen as an inflection point in the marketing industry. Cookie deprecation has brought about a massive change in how marketers can operate toward success.

Although this is a critical point in the evolution of marketing campaigns, there is significant potential for new opportunities and growth.

As our GA4 Summit series highlights, these new opportunities can be capitalized on through collecting, injecting, modeling, and successfully activating your data in Google Analytics 4.

 

The Google Analytics 4 360 logo.

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