Welcoming the New Google Analytics 360

October 14, 2021
Senior Director of Google Analytics

Google Analytics users have moved toward the new era of web and app tracking with Google Analytics 4 properties—reinventing analytics strategies, expanding implementation, and refining analysis abilities with each feature release and update. One thing that has been much-awaited is the official release of the enterprise version with a new Google Analytics 360.

The wait has ended.

The new Google Analytics 360 (GA360) builds on the existing foundational abilities from Google Analytics 4 properties around privacy, first-party audiences, behavior modeling, and expanded cross-device measurement. Businesses who are new to enterprise analytics will find that it's a great time to adopt, while existing customers of Google Analytics 360 will find powerful new features that drive marketing and analytics tactics.

As a premium product, the new GA360 not only allows for higher data collection limits, it also unlocks features and enterprise-level value for marketers and analysts. Bounteous has had the opportunity to work with Google on the beta and the new GA360 adoption for over two dozen organizations, so we're excited to share our experience with the upgrade.

Benefits of upgrading from Google Analytics 4 to Google Analytics 360 properties are based on the priorities that organizations need from their data, which fall into the following tenets:

  • Governance and security
  • Power and performance
  • Scalability
  • Broader data collection
  • Integrations
  • Guarantees
Broader Data Collection

The most noticeable difference in data collection between Google Analytics 4 properties and the new GA360 are the limitations of the custom information, like events, user properties, and conversions. These data points are the core of all Google Analytics features, so the thresholds should be considered at the beginning of strategy and migration.

With the new event-based tracking, these standard limits may be easy to exceed for most organizations. For example, the way that data is collected calls for new event naming. A loose comparison to a Universal Analytics property's naming is the values that you see for Event Action will likely be the Event Name, and the label values will be dimensions. It's a good idea to check how many rows of categories and actions there are in your Universal Analytics event reports. Strategizing event migration isn't 1-1, but it will give you an idea of how much custom data may need a GA4 parameter. With the new GA 360, there's the ability to use 125 dimensions and 125 metrics compared to the standard limits of 50 each.

Below are comparisons of basic limitations around data collection.

Google Analytics 4 New Google Analytics 360
25 dimensions per event 100 dimensions per event
50 dimensions and 50 metric 125 dimensions and 125 metrics
30 conversions/goals 50 conversions/goals
25 user properties 100 user properties
100 audiences 400 audiences
Precise Analysis

The free version of Google Analytics now includes unsampled main reports, even when adding comparisons or secondary dimensions. However, creating visualizations, funnels, segment overlap reports, and user pathing will trigger sampling in the Explore area. With the standard version, sampling kicks in when you are including more than 10 million events compared to the 1 billion event threshold for 360. 

Data Governance

One of the major differences between Universal Analytics properties and Google Analytics 4 properties is the lack of views. Views were a way to separate and filter data from the property, but there weren't many options for custom user permissions and administrative control. In the new GA360, data governance is based on sub-properties, roll-up properties, and user roles. 

Roll-Up Properties

The roll-up functionality from Universal Analytics 360 will now also be a new Google Analytics 360 feature. For organizations that require the ability to aggregate data across a large web and app digital footprint, this feature will roll up multiple GA4 properties into one.

Sub-Properties

Sub-properties are new and similar to views. Data streams are still integrated with a main Google Analytics 4 property, but now there's an opportunity to customize and control subsets of data based on teams, content, privacy, geography, or other governance needs. These sub-properties are different from Universal Analytics views because they behave like actual separate properties—each can have its own custom dimensions, audience sharing, integrations, and settings that were previously only available to customize at a single source.

Executive Reporting Customization

With Universal Analytics 360, the interface has all of the reports, sub-reports, integration reporting areas, multi-channel funnel reports, and custom reports all within the same menu. In fact, there are about 117 different menu options, not counting Advanced Analysis and Attribution. As a guess and possible challenge, even lead GA analysts can't name every report and subreport in order. It's a lot to dig through to find insights. This is true for all users since there's never a situation where every single report is navigated to every day, or in most cases, at all.

The new Google Analytics 360 is aligning with executive needs and providing a more in-depth 360 experience of a customizable interface. Gone are the days where nearly 100 percent of C-Suite data delivery had to be delivered outside of the Google Analytics interface. Menus and reports can now be tailored to user roles.

Data Retention

Google Analytics 4 properties give the option of setting data retention up to 14 months. This is related to user- and event-level data, not aggregate data. When the data is deleted after that period of time, regular reports will not show many differences, but ad-hoc reporting, visualizations, and analyses in the Explore area will simply not work. For organizations that require in-depth multi-year analysis, this would be a problem. With the 360 version, data retention can be set up to 50 months.

Google Analytics 4 Properties New Google Analytics 360
Options for 2- and 24-month data retention Options for 2, 14, 26, 38, and 50 months of data retention
Performance and Scalability

With 360, there's also increased speed and processing. This includes:

  • Streaming data that takes less than an hour from the time an event is collected, compared to updates at potentially 4 to 8-hour intervals.
  • Unlimited BigQuery daily exports, compared to the standard limit of 1 million events per day.

Note: For event limits with sampling and BigQuery, it's important to remember that Google Analytics 4 properties have greater events than Universal Analytics by default. For example, three new additions with basic GA4 tracking include an event for timing user engagement, session starts, and first visits. In a situation where a user lands on a page and stays for 10 seconds, Universal Analytics would track one hit (the pageview), but GA4 could have four (or more if it is tracked as a conversion).

There are also behind-the-scenes performance increases for the new Google Analytics 360. One is the major speed increase from custom aggregates. Custom aggregates are similar to the Universal Analytics 360 properties' Custom Tables, but the difference is that they don't have to be set up manually! When you run the same report often, a custom aggregate will automatically be created so that the report can be viewed 100 times quicker.

New GA360 SLA Guarantees

The benefit that comes with the new SLA guarantees may get overlooked with all of the other 360 features taking the stage, but it's a shift in how Google Analytics will support big data. There are SLAs that haven't been available in the past: BigQuery daily export and app data collection.

There's also a change in the volume of data being considered. With Universal Analytics 360, properties had a guarantee for up to 2 billion hits per month and a processing time guarantee of 48 hours or fewer. Now, the guarantee is up to 250 billion hits per month. An extra bonus is that the processing time guarantee for properties with fewer than 30 billion hits per month is 4 hours. 

SLA Comparisons
New Google Analytics New Google Analytics 360
None Covers not only GA but BigQuery and Firebase, including BQ Daily Export
Intra-day reporting is a 4-8 snapshot Intra-day reporting is continuously updated
N/A Reprocessing will be available
1 million daily event limit 20 billion daily event limit
Analysis sampling kicks in above 10 million events per query Analysis sampling kicks in above 1 billion events per query
Premium Marketing Integrations

Google Analytics 4 properties will have the GMP integrations that were previously only available to 360 customers. The difference now is that the new Google Analytics 360 will have fewer limitations on what those integrations can do and send. 360 will also have third-party integrations like Salesforce.

This is a topic that will be evolving throughout the year, so it's expected that there will be more announcements and updates regarding GMP integrations, abilities, and features.

Feature Comparison
SLA - Google Analytics 4 Properties SLA - New Google Analytics 360
None Covers not only GA but BigQuery and Firebase, including BQ Daily Export
Intra-day reporting is a 4-8 snapshot Intra-day reporting is continuously updated
Sampling  
10 million events per query (segmentation, report manipulation, etc.) 1 billion events per query 
BigQuery Daily Export  
1 million events per day 20 billion events per day
Custom Data Limits  
25 dimensions per event 100 dimensions per event
50 dimensions and 50 metrics 125 dimensions and 125 metrics
30 conversions/goals 50 conversions/goals
25 user properties 100 user properties
100 audiences 400 audiences
Event limits per user  
500 2,000
Data Retention  
Options for 2- and 24-month data retention Options for 2, 14, 26, 38, and 50 months of data retention

 

What to Do Next

With the next version of Google Analytics 360 around the corner, it's vital that all organizations implement extensive dual tagging with the current Universal Analytics properties and Google Analytics 4 properties.

Current GA360 customers can contact their partners to request beta access at no additional cost. There will never be a case where organizations will have to pay for both types of 360 properties at the same time.

Summary

The new GA360 differentiates from the standard product with the prospect of big(ger) data, unsampled analysis, robust governance, and the opportunity for easier data advocacy with customizations.