Understanding GA4 – Google’s Newest Analytical Tool

Google has long been a powerhouse in the analytical field. However, recent changes in technology and user behavior have made the old Google Analytics, otherwise known as Universal Analytics, challenging to use, so Google has released GA4 – its newest analytical tool.

While GA4 is very similar to UA, it offers some improvements worth investigating. This blog post will look at GA4 and what it can offer you and your business. Stay tuned!

What is GA4?

GA4, also known as Google Analytics 4, is Google’s newest analytical tool, released in October 2020. Like its predecessor, GA4 is designed to help businesses track and analyze their website traffic. Furthermore, GA4 includes new features that make it more user-friendly and customizable.

One of the most notable changes in GA4 is how data is collected. In the older analytics, data was collected through pageviews. GA4, on the other hand, uses events. Events are actions that users take on your website, such as clicking a button or filling out a form. This change makes GA4 more accurate than UA, as it can better track user engagement and interactions.

GA4 allows you to create custom reports to see the most important data. In addition, it includes a new “Explore” feature, making it easy to visualize your data and find trends.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Downsides

One of the biggest gripes on GA4 is importing historical data from existing UA accounts. This is a significant conundrum for businesses as they will have to start their GA4 journey from scratch, which might be difficult to swallow for some.

Also, GA4 will not include metrics like ‘Bounce Rate’ or ‘Pages per Sessions’ metrics. Instead, these data behaviors will now be called “Engagement Rate” and “Engaged Sessions.” And so, there will be somewhat of a learning curve as you migrate to the new system.

Lastly, GA4 is still in its infancy, so there might be some bugs here and there. Google is still working on the system and making improvements to address these downsides in the future. Overall, GA4 is a powerful analytical tool that can simplify data tracking for your website, app, and offline conversions.

GA4 vs. UA – Who Wins?

Comparing GA4 to UA, Google Analytics 4 seems to have many new features, including its user metrics that predict customers’ actions, all found and powered by AI. These unique engagement metrics will help you determine whether your subject matter is engaging and how users interact with your products and content.

GA4 also introduces new, more effective measurements and integrations which can result in more dynamic audiences for marketing campaigns. For instance, if you would have an ad campaign active across multiple platforms, including web and app, GA4 can now join these different platforms and device journeys together. This will help to optimize these audiences more seamlessly.

Google also mentions that GA4 will have parameters with each event. Parameters are supplemental types of information that can be used to specify further the action taken by the user or add context to the event. For example, parameters can describe and provide context for how, why, and where the event was logged. Each event can record up to 25 parameters.

There are multiple other benefits GA4 brings to the table. Still, some people might prefer the old-school way of tracking data with pageviews, and others may like GA4’s more modern approach to ‘events.’

However, the move to GA4 is coming quickly and will be the default for new analytics properties by July 2023. That said, online business owners should at the very least set up a GA4 profile ASAP, even if you are not ready to make the switch just yet. This is important so that you can make YoY comparisons in your data after the move to GA4 becomes mandatory. If you wait until the last minute to set up your GA4 properties, you risk not being able to compare the new metrics to the previous year’s performance.

Final Thoughts on What GA4 Means for You and Your Business

GA4 is a tremendous new tool for analyzing business data metrics. It’s important to get familiar with the new metrics and reporting that it offers before the change becomes mandatory.

It’s also important to remind you that Google will sunset Universal Analytics in July 2023. You will be able to access your UA data until later in the year, but no new data will be collected in your existing UA accounts after July.  So, if you’re not using GA4 yet, now is a great time to get familiar with it!