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Posted on 2 Aug '23

Switching to GA4 for Enhanced Campaign Reporting: What You Need to Know

We're making the switch to GA4 for all of our on-site campaign reporting. In this post, our Head of Client Services, Dougal MacKenzie, explains what this means for the way we'll be tracking the performance of your campaigns going forward.

You may remember that earlier this year, our Head of Data and Optimisation, Jack Taylor, wrote a handy guide for switching over to GA4 from Universal Analytics, ahead of the latter’s farewell on 1 July 2023.

The introduction of GA4 means we have also updated and changed the way we track and report performance data for our campaigns across FindAMasters and FindAPhD. All user activity and engagement will now be logged via GA4. We’ve explained what this means for your campaigns below.

Why are we swapping to GA4?

This question is perhaps a little misleading. Google Analytics as a whole is nothing new to us as a company, and we have regularly used it over the years to help develop reports and gauge demographic information on our sites. We have also used a legacy reporting system since 2014 that whilst accurate, does not have the additional benefits that GA4 brings with it.

GA4's numerous features (again, see Jack’s blog above), as well as it being an industry-standard platform, mean we feel this is a good time to start using GA4 for all of our on-site campaign reporting.

Will anything change about the stats for my campaigns?

At this point, you may be a bit concerned about how this change will affect the stats you receive for your adverts on FindAMasters and FindAPhD. The short answer is that it will – but in a positive way! I have broken this down into several areas:

Event-based tracking means better accuracy

GA4 uses an event-based model for tracking, which without getting too technical, makes it more accurate in logging user activity on our sites.

The easiest way to describe this would be: take a Programme Listing that appears at the bottom of a search result page. GA4 allows us to track when each programme is actually visible to the user in their browser, not just loaded when the page loads. This will mean some differences in your reports but, this model of tracking is a much more accurate way of monitoring the performance of your campaign.

Internal Referrals will still be noted, but have less focus

One of our metrics you will have been familiar with over the years is the ‘Internal Referral’ – a click that takes a user from an on-site advert to another page on our website (such as a click from a Programme Listing to an Institution Profile on FindAMasters).

These have traditionally been included in our averages for various products and in your reports as a way of measuring engagement. However, after multiple discussions and feedback, we realised that what we’re all really interested in are the metrics that track user engagement with your institution, through outbound clicks or sending email enquiries. This means you may see fewer mentions of Internal Referrals in reports going forward, but we will still consider their relevance in the overall campaign picture.

Remember, there is no one ‘true’ stat

We will always ensure that we continue to filter out rogue bot traffic, report accurate statistics, and provide you with the data you need. That said, all datasets are unique, and GA4 is no different! However, it is a trusted platform that we believe provides the best picture of user activity.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect ‘true’ stat that exists, so we would always recommend including tracking links on any campaigns you run with us, as well as informing us what activity you can see on your end.

Please ask us for more information

Since its official launch in January 2022, we have been customizing and building the data in GA4. We're confident that this move will mean more accurate and better reflective stats for your campaigns with us, so you can be even more confident that, together, we're hitting your postgraduate recruitment goals.

If you’re unsure of anything or have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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