After another delay, Google has pushed back the date it will stop supporting third-party cookies to 2024. Still, the shift is coming. And it’s going to be big.
When Google (more specifically, Chrome) phases out third-party cookie support, web analytics will rely heavily on first-party data.
To get ready, Google is encouraging users to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
But there is an alternative. More than one – but we’re focusing on enterprise businesses in this guide.
Adobe Analytics is the market-leading platform for enterprise-level analytics. It’s built to give marketers and analysts the insight and tools to analyse huge data sets and optimise customer experience management.
So, should you switch to Adobe Analytics or upgrade to GA4?
GA4 is user-centric, recording “events” like clicks, scrolling and dwell time. The event-based measurement model is intended to help businesses meet evolving customer expectations, especially around privacy and campaign optimisation.
Data thresholds apply to some reports and explorations, although it’s unclear what the minimum user count might be.
Adobe Analytics’ data schema is similar to GA4, with a hierarchy of Visitor, Visit, then Hits. However, the difference that earns Adobe an edge over Google is how this data is collected across online and offline channels.
Adobe’s raw data uses participation metrics (like Google’s events), among other signals to create rich audience segments.
Because of this cross-channel data collection power, you might find Adobe’s data thresholds are higher than Google’s. However, once again, the company keeps mum on minimum visitor requirements.
GA4 has baked-in machine learning designed to anticipate user behaviour. Using the predictive insights functionality when creating a custom audience means you can see the probability of a user group making a purchase or exiting the funnel, plus access a potential revenue figure.
Adobe Analytics blows Google out of the water here. Adobe’s advanced statistical modelling algorithms enable insights like anomaly detection, unexpected spikes and dips, behaviour correlations, and intelligent alerts.
So, while Google’s predictive insights help marketers optimise eCommerce campaigns and analyse in-app purchases, B2B marketers will have limited use. Meanwhile, Adobe’s statistical modelling helps marketers unearth all kinds of insights, not only those related to conversion activity.
GA4 extends UTM tracking to 25 event parameters and rolls up tracking codes into a higher-level parameter set. (Universal Analytics limits UTM tracking to just three parameters; utm_campaign, utm_source and utm_medium).
Google Analytics 4 won’t restart a user’s session if a UTM parameter changes. So even if the entry point or campaign creative is different, data collection continues, providing more data to create a single customer view.
Adobe Analytics, as expected, does all this and more. Adobe’s open measurement protocol collects data from almost any channel, online and offline, so you can better understand customer behaviour. In fact, cross-channel analytics is one of the main benefits for enterprise businesses using Adobe Analytics.
Crucially, Adobe Analytics then helps you understand why users behave a certain way. A machine learning attribution algorithm assigns value to different touchpoints across the user journey, generating attribution insights and providing a best-fit model.
Google’s SLA notes that insights and user lifetime analytics can take up to 24 hours to process. Depending on the use case, this delay could be a minor inconvenience or cause many sleepless nights.
Adobe’s latency is much shorter, taking just 2 hours to complete reports. Each data collection server uploads batches of raw data every hour, so it could be even faster if the participation metric registers right before an upload.
Google Analytics features predefined reporting models based on the customer life cycle. This makes sense, given GA4’s apparent orientation towards conversion-based properties (e.g. eCommerce and B2C websites, apps, and games).
As well as the demographic and technology usage data you’re familiar with from UA, GA4 breaks down activity by the stage in the customer life cycle. According to Google, these stages are Acquisition, Engagement, Monetisation, and Retention.
Adobe Analytics rolled its Reporting & Analytics features into the Analysis Workspace in 2015 and will sunset the old tool in 2023. It’s a smart move that combines analysis and reporting capabilities into one single source of truth, the Analysis Workspace.
Adobe’s reporting capabilities are more agile than Google’s. The purpose is to generate real-time insights that improve the customer experience rather than waiting until a campaign ends to assess past activity. That said, there are a bunch of reporting templates you can use to export data on demand.
GA4 is free, with no rumours of Google charging for the standard features. However, you’ll need to upgrade to GA4 360 to scale up data collection, get enterprise-level technical support, or ink an SLA.
GA4 360 is Google’s enterprise-sized analytics platform for companies registering ~1 million monthly hits or more. Google has suggested that the minimum price for GA4 360 will be USD 50,000 per year, which gets you 25 million monthly events plus the trimmings.
Adobe Analytics pricing reflects its enterprise-sized capabilities. There’s no free basic version; the subscription levels are Select, Prime, and Ultimate. After the 30-day trial period, you can expect Adobe Analytics pricing to run between USD 30,000 and USD 150,000, depending on your subscription.
Google is right on one point: “without a modern measurement solution, you leave essential insights on the table that can impact your business”.
So, the fundamental consideration is what’s best for your business.
Whether you switch to GA4 or explore alternative solutions depends on a long list of factors. In particular, the size and complexity of your analytics requirements will significantly impact the platform you choose.
We recommend forecasting beyond 2024, when Universal Analytics will stop registering new hits. Look for indicators that suggest GA4 won’t meet your requirements:
If you’ve got ambitious growth plans and a growing user base, Adobe Analytics enables data-driven insights that optimise the customer experience and grow your business.
Contact TAP CXM to speak with an Adobe Analytics specialist and get personalised advice based on your business needs. As the leading CXM consultants in the business, we help enterprise-level brands and global agencies become customer experience management specialists.