Why switch to GA4?
July 19, 2023
What makes GA4 different?
If you’re here, then you already probably know what Google Analytics is and what it’s used for, but if not, then I definitely recommend checking out our other article that gives you an overview on the whole thing. Moving on, digital marketing veterans are now obligated to move their analytics services from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, but before you get confused here, we shall be explaining how all of this will work.
First of all, what is Universal Analytics (UA)
Before all of these names get tangled up in each other, it’s important to note that all of these analytics services fall under the same name and company: Google. They released Universal Analytics in the year 2012 as an upgrade to Google Analytics released in 2005 after they acquired Urchin Software Corporation.
More or less, UA offered much more ways to collect and integrate different types of data as opposed to GA, as well as giving the choice to integrate data across other platforms and devices, which was previously not a feature in GA. Contrary to GA, UA focused more on the visitors on a business’ website, rather than collecting information based on the visits themselves. Creating own metrics for data collection was also introduced along with the release of UA compared to GA’s custom dimensions only.
Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics
Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is Google’s latest analytics service released just this July 2023. The biggest and most convenient change Google has added for us is the ability to analyze all sorts of data from all sorts of platforms and apps, may it be iOS or Android. Basically, another huge upgrade to what digital marketers is already used to. To get a more comprehensive comparison of the two, let’s bring up what Google had to say about the service.
An upgrade to the Metrics as we know it
GA4 now records the total number of unique users who logged onto an app or site that was launched, as well as the brand-new feature of determining the number of users currently browsing or visiting. As UA focused more on total users, GA4 is more on the active user side, but since both still appear under the metric users, it is safe to say that the calculations for the metric differ for both.
This metric was shown to be not so different from both UA and GA4, but a considerable change would be that UA allowed for additional filtering options when determining pageview counts, meanwhile GA4 currently does not support any filters.
This refers to the amount of time spent by each user on a business website or page, and this can vary based on several factors now.
– Geography – consider the timezones of your users and how likely they are to cross the midnight threshold to restart a session. This is especially relevant if you have a global customer base.
– Use of UTMs on owned websites or apps – Using UTM tagging on your own website is not recommended since it will reset the session in Universal Analytics. If you do use UTMs on your own website, you may see a much higher count of sessions in UA than in GA4.
– Filters – The data in UA reporting may be subject to view filters that exclude data. The data in GA4 reporting for Google Analytics 360 customers may be subject to filters that define which data from a source property appears in a subproperty. However, Google Analytics still generates a session ID when you filter out the session_start event from a subproperty.
– Estimation – Google Analytics 4 properties use a statistical estimate of the number of sessions that occurred on your website or app by estimating the number of unique session IDs, while Universal Analytics properties don’t estimate the number of sessions. The estimates used by Google Analytics 4 properties more efficiently count sessions with high accuracy and low error rate.
” -Google Analytics Support
As there are multiple changes present, we recommend analyzing the table below created by the makers of GA4.
Bounce and engagement rate
In UA, what counts as a bounce session is if a user leaves a site without interacting or clicking links for several minutes, then it is considered a bounce session. In GA4 however, a visit that ends in no interaction for less than 10 seconds is now a bounce session.
Although UA’s way of collecting this information is useful, GA4 is now considerably more modernized, and is now more equipped for recently released businesses and applications.
Every hit or action on a website will now be considered an event in GA4 compared to UA’s events that need to be categorized and named. Even a simple click on a link within a website will now be considered an event.
Is the change mandatory?
The short answer is yes. All users are now obligated to migrate from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 as UA will be discontinued as of July 1, 2023, to maximize data analysis capabilities. If you have no idea how to do so, visit this page on how to do so, or you may also view one of the videos below.
Guides on how to migrate from UA to GA4