Another year, another round of Google updates. Or two. Or three… thousand. We’re exaggerating, but there’s no question that the platform has been instigating updates faster, fiercer, and more frequently in recent years – and 2023 looks to be no exception. That means businesses and their marketing teams will need to be on their toes and continuously on the lookout for ways to optimize strategies for more impressive returns.
Take a look at some of the biggest Google updates coming in 2023:
GA4 is the New Universal Analytics
It’s the big, red, yellow, green, and blue elephant in the room. We all knew it was coming and were told to prepare for its arrival. Well, at last – GA4 is here. And come July 1, it’s the only game in town.
So, don’t drag your feet on this one.
GA4 has actually been in use since 2020, but stragglers who haven’t embraced the platform now have a deadline to do so. Users will have only 6 months after the switch to backup and save data.
The big difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics? GA4 is an event-based platform, which means it leverages each button click, conversion, and viewed video to mine its data, all while remaining compliant with various privacy laws. Universal Analytics, by comparison, is pageview-based, and was designed to track and report individual sessions on a single device.
GA4 implements cross-device data management that does not rely on third-party cookies, instead using machine-learning algorithms to help businesses pinpoint where their leads are being generated. Ultimately, this should allow advertisers to maximize the reach of their budget across various channels.
But some advertisers – and marketers – aren’t so sure.
Our advice? Give yourself time to assess the lay of the land. Many experts recommend running both UA and GA4 in tandem for several months initially, as you familiarize yourself with the changes. Recognizable elements will remain, more or less, but may be structured differently. Be sure to download historical data for year-over-year tracking because once July 1 rolls around, you will no longer be able to do so.
Similar Audiences Are Also on the Chopping Block
Previously, Google’s Similar Audience feature looked at data surrounding your existing remarketing audiences and sought out new, qualified users who expressed shared or similar interests. It quickly became the secret weapon for many campaigns.
Due to emerging privacy concerns, however, Google decided to axe Similar Audiences (a.k.a. Similar Segments) late last year.
The phase-out will begin in May 2023 (no new campaigns or ad groups will be permitted to use these audience types) and users will be given until Aug. 1 to leverage the Similar Audiences tool before it goes away entirely (though historical reporting data will still be accessible for a short time).
In addition to updating audiences before the migration, Google is urging advertisers to make the most of their first-party data when creating new campaigns. The silver lining? Forcing yourself to utilize different campaign types could ultimately help you maximize performance and reach the results you crave even quicker. That’s what we’ve typically done for our clients, opting for “interest” or “affinity” audience types in our targeting. So, if you’re an IMPACT client, this change will be of little consequence.
Is it a lot to take in? Sure, but Google updates coming in 2023 share one big thing in common with Google updates that came out in 2022 – or 2021, or that will be on the way 20 years from now. You don’t have to navigate them alone. A qualified digital marketing professional can help you start this New Year – and finish it – just right.