Transitioning to a first-party world

Time is running out for businesses wanting to transition to Google Analytics 4 before Chrome phases out support for third-party cookies by the end of 2023.



Tangible Media


So what exactly does that mean for marketers? Mark Mckenzie, Reason’s Head of Analytics, explains everything you need to know about this move from third party to first party data. WHY IS IT HAPPENING? In a traditional marketplace, vendors engage their customers in conversation to sell them things. Modern day marketing is simply doing the same but at a much larger scale. “That’s what this technology should enable us to do, to have good conversations with our customers,” Mark says. “Third-party data is knowing something about someone and using that to have a conversation. First-party data is having permission to have that data, knowing something about [the potential customer] and pulling that into a Martech structure.” Although GA4 isn’t an instant fix, it is a piece of the puzzle and means GA4 is better future proofed as technology continues to develop, he adds. “GA4 should make it easier to track that information, access it and use it with other tools. We should get to a point where we are having conversations rather than just selling at people.” As technology changes, the way data is collected needs to reflect this which is why things will look a little different under GA4. WHAT DOES THIS TRANSITION MEAN FOR MARKETERS? Without the right preparation, GA4 data could be converted into data that is unfamiliar to marketers. GA4 data is closer to the data used and understood by software developers rather than marketers, Mark says, so a common concern is not being able to understand each other. Marketers need to be able to clearly communicate to software developers what data they are looking for. “We are going to get to a situation where greater flexibility means more ways to do certain things. Just because something is easier to implement and makes sense for a developer does not necessarily mean that the data that comes out of the other side is useful and known to a marketer,” Mark says. “Generally developers are excited [about the transition] as the data model is closer to what they are used to working with. As far as marketers are concerned, there is a lot of room for confusion within those two roles around how and what something should be tracked for best results as well as how to get and use the data.” THE BENEFITS OF GA4 Moving from Universal (also known as Google Analytics 3) should make it easier to track across different data streams on web apps that don’t follow a traditional page view structure. Another benefit is that it should be easier to integrate first-party data and web analytics data in other tools such as Big Query [a serverless, multicloud data warehouse]. This will mean that data is more easily downloadable and more easily accessible which is a key aspect that the industry is excited about says Mark. “This technology makes it easier to access and use in a first-party data world but we must make sure we have permission and this permission status or attribute is updated across the entire marketing stack,” he says. “A key piece of technology now needed is a kind of customer data platform to connect all data points and tools together and enable the creation of a single view of the customer.” Ultimately, Mark believes the move should mean “more control and flexibility over the data you collect about your audience, their actions, and your website”.