Web analytics involves collecting, measuring and analyzing website data. Over half of websites use Google Analytics as their analytics platform. Until 2020, Google’s platform was known as Universal Analytics (UA). This is now being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). UA will fully retire this year in 2023.
Let’s learn more about GA4, how it compares to UA and what new features you can expect.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google Analytics launched in 2020. Unlike previous versions of Google Analytics, GA4 is not designed to measure website visits or sessions. Instead, it’s intended to measure website and mobile app interactions, known as events.
The reason why this is important is because marketers can get a deeper look into the actions that people take on their websites. Previous versions of Google Analytics only allowed marketers to view a person’s visit and the pages they looked at.
While events could technically be set up in UA, they were difficult to do, especially for marketers with limited technical knowledge. GA4 puts events at the center of its tracking, and this gives marketers a deeper understanding of their audience’s behavior, regardless of their technical background.
What’s New in GA4?
While there are many differences between GA4 and UA, we’re going to cover some of the most important.
- GA4 doesn’t need cookies. It comes fully equipped to comply with Consent mode and will also offer behavioral modeling. UA runs on cookies.
- GA4 was built for user tracking across multiple sessions and devices. This means it can track individual users and their actions. UA was built for session tracking.
- UA supports multiple views, GA4 does not. This could change in the future.
- To save on resources, GA4 stores event data for 14 months. UA stored them for 50 months.
- GA4 has fewer standard reports compared to UA, but more custom-built reports.
- UA can process events in under 4 hours. GA4 takes 72 hours. Again, this has to do with saving resources for Google.
Is GA4 Better than UA?
While there are some limitations with GA4 compared to UA, it is designed to be a superior product. Here are some of the reasons why we are looking forward to welcoming this new analytics platform.
- Better privacy. GA4 does not log or store any IP addresses, giving brands more control over how they collect, process and store data.
- Improved view of customers. Another thing GA4 does well is give a more complete view of users during their purchase journey.
- Machine learning insights. Using Google’s Machine Learning, GA4 can uncover insights from data that will improve marketing performance.
Transitioning to GA4 might not be the picnic you hoped it would be, but it has to be done. You can learn more about making the switch here, or reach out to WSI Internet Partners for more information. We can make sure that you are maximizing your use of Google Analytics.