Google made the announcement on March 16, 2022, that the most recent version of Google Analytics—also known as Google Analytics 3 or Universal Analytics—would be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2023. Google is attempting to develop new measurement standards in this manner while also putting user privacy first.
On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop processing data, and on October 1, 2023, Universal Analytics 360 will stop working. Switching to GA4 as your cross-platform analytics solution is the right time. Find out what Google Analytics 4 offers and how it can help your business.
Google claims that Universal Analytics was designed for a time when online measurement was more easily observable data from cookies, independent sessions, and anchored in the desktop web. GA4, on the other hand, will measure and track events across multiple websites and platforms (such as desktop, mobile, and apps) rather than relying on cookies.
Users of GA4 will be able to measure both activities that result in conversion and those that do not, thanks to the data-driven attribution feature. This will give them complete information about how each marketing activity affects the customer journey.
When GA4 is integrated with other Google products (like Google Ads, for example), It will simplify campaign optimization and provide enhanced Analytics insights. All customers now have access to Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360 integrations, which will improve the performance of your marketing campaign as a whole.
Through comprehensive controls for data collection, GA4 will provide more protection for privacy. GA4 does not store IP addresses like Universal Analytics does.
The logic of how sessions are counted is different between the two platforms. This will likely lead to a lower overall session count within GA4 and impact year-over-year reporting. Be sure to monitor this discrepancy for reporting.
Conversion numbers will likely be slightly higher with the new Google Analytics platform as the logic has changed here as well. Take this discrepancy into account for year-over-year reporting.
The bounce rate metric is not available within GA4. This KPI will need to be replaced with another metric, such as engagement rate. Your specific business will need to decide how to incorporate the new engagement metrics.
If you need to set up a new Google Analytics account, there are several steps to take to capture and track data correctly.
Link all existing Google Ads accounts to the new GA4 property.
Import new web conversion events within GA4 into existing Google Ads accounts. Leverage new conversions actions for automated bidding strategies, data analysis, and future optimization efforts.
Upon linking the new account, import audience lists defined in the GA4 account into Google Ads to support remarketing and audience creation efforts.
Integrate GA4 with an existing SA360 account to support data retention and reporting as well as Darwin budget and bid optimization.
Universal Analytics uses hit-based tracking, which tracks hits to the following types: Page Hits, Event Hits, Ecommerce Hits and Social Media Hits. In contrast, GA4 uses event-based tracking, meaning every
user interaction on the site can be captured as an event. Additionally, in Universal Analytics, a new campaign would trigger a new session regardless of activity—in GA4, a new campaign interaction does not—leading to potentially lower session counts in GA4.
GA4 will not have Goals as a measurement like the current Universal Analytics. GA4 users can instead label specific events as conversions.
Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 will not have Event values such as Categories, Actions, Labels, or Values. Instead, there will be four categories of Events: Automatically Collected, Enhanced Measurements, Recommended Events, and Custom Events. Custom events can be created in GA4, but users of GA4 should use the automatically collected events unless a specific conversion is not included within the automatically collected events.