Do you see the “Universal Analytics will no longer process new data….beginning July 1, 2023….” message whenever you hop onto Google Analytics?
Are you consistently seeing marketers and businesses sharing their thoughts on Google Analytics 4 (GA4) across LinkedIn, YouTube, and other platforms?
The thing is, Google Analytics is changing.
Google is asking you to ditch the old way of using Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) and switch over to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible.
Yes – you can do it right away.
But before you do it, you may be wondering:
“What exactly does the change mean for marketers and businesses?”
“And why has Google decided to retire Universal Analytics once and for all?”
To help you better navigate the realm of Google Analytics 4, we’ve put together this guide, where we’ll be discussing:
- redfox visual’s take on Google Analytics 4
- The difference between Universal Analytics & Google Analytics 4
- Whether or not you should you make the switch to Google Analytics 4
We’re so excited to share this piece with you.
Let’s dive into it straight away.
redfox visual’s Take on Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
From a completely new dashboard to how Google Analytics reports data to cross-platform tracking, Google Analytics 4 will literally change how you track data.
Unlike Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 is built around users and events. Until recently, Universal Analytics has relied on a session-based model that groups user interactions within a given time frame.
However, GA4’s events-based model processes user interactions as standalone events. This shift will make it easier for marketers to track data and customer journeys across different platforms.
As stated by Google in their Support section:
Until now, Universal Analytics property has been used to track website data. To track mobile application usage data, you require Google Analytics App View or Google Analytics for Firebase.
And that’s what makes tracking data across both applications and the web complicated.
GA4 collects website and mobile application data to help marketers and businesses better understand customer journeys. At the same time, it leverages machine learning and AI to give marketers and businesses detailed insights into how users interact with their apps and websites.
Lastly, with customers concerned about their privacy more than ever before, Google Analytics promotes privacy-first tracking.
That being said, let’s learn the difference between UA & GA4.
The Difference Between Universal Analytics & Google Analytics 4
Following are the differences between Universal Analytics & Google Analytics 4:
- New Dashboard
- Predictive Insights
- Events-Based Tracking
- Cross-Platform Tracking
When you switch to Google Analytics 4, the first significant change you’ll see is that GA4 has a completely new and refined dashboard. In the left-hand navigation bar, you’ll see the following sections:
However, in UA, we’re used to seeing Home, Customization, Realtime, Audience, Acquisition, and various other options. At the same time, it has been reported that GA4’s search functionality is way faster than UA’s. You’ll see that many reports you have relied on up until now are gone. Or some may have been moved.
And since GA4 relies on AI & machine learning, you can see predictive insights under “Insights.”
Let’s dive a bit into predictive insights.
As we mentioned, GA4 heavily relies on machine learning and AI to provide users with detailed predictive insights, helping them make data-driven and proactive decisions.
Just imagine how effective your ads would be if you could gain insights into customers who will most likely make a purchase in the next 30 days.
You don’t need third-party software anymore since GA4 will provide you with AI metrics like revenue prediction, churn probability, and many more.
Not only can some AI metrics help you improve your ad performance but website and app performance as well.
UA relies on session-based tracking, whereas GA4 focuses on users and events. Rather than having an overview of data, you’ll be able to dive deeper and gain a complete understanding, all thanks to GA4 helping marketers and businesses focus on user interactivity across mobile and web.
While you’ll still have session-based reporting, it can further be broken down by interaction, helping you get your hands on detailed insights and reports.
With UA, page views aren’t the most important metric anymore. With GA4, you can dive deeper into user data and insights, allowing you to track customers throughout their journey.
As we mentioned before, GA4 allows cross-platform tracking. This means you don’t have to track data from your website and applications separately.
Doing this will help you track your customer journey as a whole rather than having to make assumptions. You’ll get a complete view of the customer journey- from acquisition to retention.
GA4 does it via unique user IDs assigned during website or application login. Neil Patel, in his version of the “What is Google Analytics 4” article, mentioned:
This means that the User ID for all the logged-in sessions will be sent to GA4 – from both the application and website. This ID will be reported to the GA4 property. And if the user logs in again via a different device, then the login will be identified by GA, and the data of the user will be connected to their unique ID.
This will, in turn, help marketers and businesses gain deeper insights into the overall customer journey.
Should You Make the Switch to Google Analytics 4?
As promising as it sounds, is switching to Google Analytics 4 worth it?
We reached out to Dominic Kent from UC Marketing – who made his switch to GA4. And here’s what he has to say –
“Recognising us marketers have very little choice but to move to GA4 before the deadline, I’ve slowly started to move over to it. My biggest concern at the moment is everything seems a little glitchy and unfinished. Pages don’t load correctly and filters are hidden behind other drop-downs. I didn’t want to move from UA because I know my way around it. Having conceded defeat, I’m yet to see any benefit of a new format. Personally, I’m hoping for an extension. I have no problems with UA and would very much like it to remain as is.”
Just like Dominic, thousands of people are complaining that they didn’t really want to make their switch to GA4 – just because they know their way around Universal Analytics, and for them, GA4 is glitchy (which Google still needs to address).
Allow me to share a few screenshots from a Reddit post:
People are not really liking GA4. But it’s not as bad as marketers on Reddit are claiming it to be.
It’s buggy. And some marketers may find it limited.
Google still has to address these questions.
What we’ve observed is that one of the big reasons people don’t like Google Analytics 4 is that they are comfortable using Universal Analytics. They know their way around.
But now, Google wants them to shift to GA4, which makes it frustrating for them.
But as we mentioned, Google is not giving marketers an option.
So, should you make your shift?
You don’t have an option since Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data from July 1, 2023.
GA4 is here. UA will stop processing data from July 2023.
And as daunting as it may seem, Google wants you to make the shift.
While GA4 seems promising on paper, marketers think otherwise.
We’d love your opinions on GA4.
And if you are looking forward to outsourcing your operations, we’d love to help, especially if you run a local business based in Boise.
We’re the #1 digital marketing agency in Boise catering to local businesses.
Reach out to us today!