How dentsu Finland helps their customers rethink their long-term data collection strategy while transitioning to GA4
- dentsu Finland has worked on several GA4 projects and has devised a 4-step delivery model to manage web analytics discussions
- The projects have usually led to rethinking the client's data collection strategy, including goals, KPIs, and documentation
- As an outcome, they've planned 2- to 4-year roadmaps on where the clients will be with their data usage and activation.
- Supermetrics has helped dentsu mitigate many GA4-related challenges that customers have been struggling with, such as GA4 API quota limitations and how to store and access their Universal Analytics data
Industry: Marketing agency
Size: 144 employees in Finland. In the global dentsu group 66,000 employees
Products: Supermetrics for Looker Studio, Supermetrics for Google Sheets, Supermetrics for BigQuery
Dentsu Finland is part of the global dentsu group operating in 143 markets. The agency helps all kinds of brands with strategy and research, concept development and creative planning, media strategies, and data and customer experience.
We caught up with dentsu Finland's Data & CX Strategy Director, Henri Maunuksela, and Web Analytics Lead, Harriet Harsto, to chat about one of the hottest marketing and web analytics topics, Google Analytics 4.
During the past few years, dentsu Finland has helped numerous clients make a smooth transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). After countless discussions around the topic, the team at dentsu noticed that most conversions that started from the need to switch to GA4 actually led to much wider discussions about rethinking the client's entire data collection strategy.
Understanding the challenges customers face when migrating from UA to GA4
In October 2020, Google introduced GA4, the next-generation measurement solution that would replace Universal Analytics. Brands were given some time to adjust to the news as the sunset of Universal Analytics was set for July 1, 2023. Many marketing agencies, dentsu included, have worked on several projects helping clients move to GA4.
Some clients have been early with the transition and proactively contacted dentsu for assistance. Others have needed a push to make the switch before time runs out.
The discussions have started from various angles. Harriet explains, "With one of our clients, the conversation started from the legal and GDPR aspect around Universal Analytics and thinking of the possibilities and next steps they should take. They also wanted to ensure that if something happens for UA, they won't be left without any data, which applies to many other clients."
As the milestone of July 1 passes, when Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data, clients have also started to focus on issues beyond migration. Harriet explains, "The growing conversation is how to use GA4 and the data there. We've done training for the interface, how GA4 functions, how the data is collected, and all the privacy features. So we've been helping our clients with everything from planning, KPI workshopping, migration, implementation, to advanced use of the GA4 data."
In many cases, what might have started as a discussion on how to implement GA4 or create reports in GA4 has led to much wider topics, such as a client's long-term data collection strategy. As a result, the project scope has become much wider and is often focused on setting up a completely new measurement plan, including implementing GA4.
Many customers still need help building a data-driven culture and really using their data to make better business decisions. Both Harriet and Henri aim to get into those discussions with clients, where they can start figuring out their goals and how they can improve their web analytics. Especially now, with GA4, there's an opportunity for new thinking and the possibility to start taking your web analytics to a new level.
The process of resolving web analytics challenges with Supermetrics
After running multiple projects, the team at dentsu has created a well-functioning process for managing web analytics discussions. Henri says, “The delivery model and how we run this project is more or less always the same. Every time we do this bigger implementation, it has a certain project scope. And we're proud of the model that we have created.”
The process has four phases: discovery, planning, implementation, and activation.
In the discovery phase, dentsu Finland's team gets to know the client, their current situation or setup, and their needs. The aim is to understand what the client wants to measure and what KPIs they need to look at. It usually also involves reviewing the current Universal Analytics setup and what events or other things they'd like to move to GA4. In some cases, the process can also start from a blank canvas.
In this phase, the team at dentsu aims to understand how the client plans to use the data. For example, is it enough for them to report from the GA4 native interface? Or do they need dashboards? And if so, what kind of dashboards are needed?
When discussing data, it's crucial to discuss how it will be stored. Does the client already have a data warehouse set up, or is there a need for that? Harriet explains, "We have data-mature clients who might have their own data management processes and warehouse. And in that case, what we do is by using Supermetrics, we stream data to their warehouse, where all the magic happens. And for some clients, we also use Supermetrics to move and store their UA data."
After setting the scene and agreeing on the goals and deliverables, the next step is to start planning the implementation. This involves talking about data settings and event tracking and planning. Some important questions involve:
- What kind of parameters need to be collected?
- How are they going to be collected?
- Does the client need to have user properties?
- Or do they need to collect user IDs?
Harriet continues, "So, already in the planning phase, you need to understand what you want to see in GA4 to be able to create something. And that's something you didn't need to know as a regular user of Universal Analytics. When planning the implementation, especially the event collection, parameters, and parameter naming, it's crucial to make it future-proof to avoid issues such as cardinality. You should be able to streamline your event parameters throughout different events, taking care of Google recommendations when it comes to event naming, for example."
The outcome of the planning phase is a documentation of the whole plan and tracking setup. It involves, for example, the names of the events you're tracking and all the parameters you're collecting. This data governance piece needs to be done before any implementation begins.
The implementation phase should be a breeze if you've done your discovery and solution-planning phases carefully.
By this phase, you should have your event names and parameters ready, so it's quite quick and straightforward to type those into Google Tag Manager and launch.
Want to know more about the technical setup of GA4? Watch the tutorial video from our GA4 Knowledge Center.
The activation part is where the magic starts to happen. It doesn't really make sense to collect data if you don't do anything with it.
The goal of the data collection is to actually use that data to make better marketing and business decisions. To do this, you need to combine your web analytics data, like GA4, with other sources, like social media. This way, you can build more meaningful analyses and reports.
Harriet says, “Supermetrics is a great tool for combining all data sources. Our clients want to understand how they perform in different channels. With Supermetrics, we have a solution for them. We can help them with our license, or if they're more data-mature and have their own license, they can do that. It's quite simple, either way."
Within the activation piece, there's also an element of building a data- or insights-driven culture. Henri and Harriet aim to get into situations with clients where they discuss what to do with the web analytics tool. They want to educate the clients and help them use their data for better decision-making.
Harnessing the power of the delivery model and Supermetrics
The dentsu team has now run multiple client projects using this process. The outcome depends on the client's needs and data maturity. With some clients, dentsu has helped them ensure their web analytics continue working after the migration. And with others, they've built a 2-, 3-, or 4-year roadmap on where the client will be with their data usage and activation.
In all cases, the outcome is usually a happy client with functioning web analytics. With GA4, there's also been a sense of excitement among the clients about all the possibilities GA4 offers.
As an agency, dentsu Finland uses Supermetrics for many different things. Both Harriet and Henri mention that Supermetrics has come up as a solution for many of the GA4-related challenges clients have struggled with. For example,
- How to connect GA4 with a client's data warehouse if it's not in the Google environment
- How to combine different data sources, like GA4 and social media, in a single place
- How to stream data back to dashboards for more meaningful analyses and visualization
- How to overcome the GA4 quota limitations
- How to store and get access to your Universal Analytics data after this year
Supermetrics fits into many of dentsu's use cases and helps streamline many processes. For example, Supermetrics has a default GA4 schema you can use for faster data transfers. Or if there's ever a data source that needs to be included, the team at dentsu can request Supermetrics to build it.
If there's one tip Harriet and Henri would like to share for any brand switching from Universal Analytics to GA4, it's to plan everything properly before taking any action. Understanding the needs and goals of the web analytics tool is crucial.
Want to know how Supermetrics can help you with your GA4 data? Check out our GA4 Knowledge Center for more tips and video tutorials.
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