Google's changing its data processing platform to Analytics 4, sunsetting Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023.
Google Analytics is a tool that helps users track and understand the activity on your apartment community websites. It's not just for marketing—the data within Google Analytics can help you make informed decisions about marketing, leasing, and management practices.
Most multifamily marketers rely on Google Analytics to measure just about everything, so the news that Google is updating to Google Analytics 4, and sunsetting its current Universal Analytics platform, is a big deal.
At RentVision, we have been preparing for the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 for over a year. In this blog, we'll focus specifically on how this change impacts our users. (If you're not a client, there's important information for you too!)
A quick refresher on Google Analytics 4
Not sure what the difference is between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)? You can get a quick refresher here: Google Analytics 4's impact on apartment marketing. Also included is a quick tutorial on how to switch over accounts for your apartment community websites. If you’re a RentVision client, don’t worry. Your UA account has already been switched over to GA4.
What is Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is a new reporting tool that provides essential marketing insights on user acquisition and behavior across multiple online platforms and devices.
Why is Google making this change?
The emphasis for Google to change Analytics aligns with the ever-increasing focus on user privacy. It no longer prioritizes 'cookies'—those embedded pieces of code on websites that record individual's actions—but measures user behavior through 'events'-based data instead. Watch the video below for an explanation of how Google measures engagement in a cookie-less world.
How will the switch to GA 4 impact RentVision users?
1) Cost Per Engaged Visit (CPEV) will replace Cost Per Minute.
We’ve historically measured the performance of your digital advertising campaigns with the Cost Per Minute metric.
Cost Per Minute is a unique calculation we used to determine which campaigns were most cost-efficient at driving qualified traffic.
Cost-Per-Click / Avg. Time on Site = Cost Per Minute
With GA4, we’ve found that the Time on Site metrics are no longer reliable. We found wild differences between UA and GA4 when looking specifically at Time on Site, and we weren’t alone. In this company's example, they reported that Time on Site in Universal Analytics was 275% larger than Google Analytics 4's average engagement measurement.
In light of this, we are adjusting our Cost Per Minute calculation to Cost Per Engaged Visit (CPEV) to determine the cost efficiency of Google, Meta, and other ad campaigns in generating qualified traffic to your community websites.
Cost-Per-Click / Engaged Visit = Cost Per Engaged Visit
Rather than relying on the time users spend on your website, CPEV will measure engagement through an events-based model. Events are GA4's method for tracking on-site behavior, such as the number of times users click to open a page, watch a video, etc. In our calculation, an 'engaged visit' requires a user to visit a certain number of pages on your community websites to count as an event (except if the user exits the website from the 'Residents' page; we don't want your CPEV metric to be impacted by current renters visiting the website to pay rent, request maintenance, etc.).
Like Cost Per Minute, the lower your CPEV, the more cost-efficient your ad campaigns are at producing qualified traffic. And we are now using that metric to inform our predictive algorithms, which work to determine when and where to reallocate your advertising budget so that you're always getting the right amount of qualified traffic at the best price.
2) CPEV changes will impact reporting in the RentVision Platform.
Your next Monthly Report email will reflect the change from Cost Per Minute to Cost Per Engaged Visit in both the Report Card and Ad Performance Report sections.
Ad Performance Report
In the RentVision Platform, you will also see all references of Cost Per Minute change to Cost Per Engaged Visit.
3) Demographic data will not be available to most users.
Additionally, demographic data on the Website Analytics page in the RentVision Platform will not be available for most users. Demographic data is still available as a datapoint in GA4, but the traffic threshold rules have been set so high by Google that our clients' community websites typically don't have enough traffic to display demographic data.
Conclusion: Be prepared for your marketing data to look different.
It's important to remember that with the change from UA to GA4, you’ll likely experience some changes with how you interpret and measure website traffic and engagement data—whether you're a RentVision client or not.
Be ready for your reporting to look a bit different; the GA4 update is so significantly different in how it measures data that it will take time for the multifamily industry to adjust.