Last year Google released the biggest ever upgrade from Universal Analytics that was originally launched in 2012. The new upgrade, Google Analytics 4 ( GA4 ) has surprised many as Google is using a new naming convention. Though Universal Analytics had major updates in the past like Global Site Tags and Google Tag manager, the release of GA4 is considered to be the biggest move by the search engine giant. This change is much needed, with exponential growth in mobile applications in the last 8 years. Google realized the need to unify the experience between Website + Application to provide accurate data for Google Analytics users. Also, the recent privacy policies over cookies on user tracking, needed the new analytics tool to be compliant.
Let’s explore in this blog…
Migrating from UA to GA4 using GTM
It is preferred to set up GA4 using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to optimize on the speed. This is because GTM comes with a number of important built-in tags for UA, Google Analytics, Google Ads, and more. It’s a relatively easy-to-use solution to control tracking codes in one place. This also keeps the page load time optimised as adding more scripts to the website will make the page speed slower.
What will happen to your already existing
Universal Analytics (UA) ?
If you are wondering what will happen to your existing UA which is tracking your website & the entire past data, RELAX. UA will continue to track your website and it will not stop working because you have migrated to GA4.
If you are setting up a new installation, Google provides the option to have only GA4 or GA4 & UA. We suggest choosing both because GA4 is still under upgrades & you can use UA till the new product matures. Also, Google provides options to backup data from UA.
If you are already running UA, we suggest adding GA4. Remember, as GA4 uses different data streams, the existing UA data may no longer be useful for historical analysis once complete switch is made. So, The best way to go about it is to activate GA4 to start collecting the data from now along with UA, which can be used for analysis.
We should use both the tools (UA and GA4) at the same time. By dual tagging you can keep your Universal Analytics implementation in place while you build out your GA 4 Setup. This dual-tagging approach lets you build a historical record for specific months in GA4 while continuing to depend on Universal Analytics until you’re completely ready to switch over to GA4. In short, the switching from UA to GA4 must be gradual, the way Google is progressing, keeping track of the changes and deciding what’s best suited for your website analytics.
Export of UA Data
Google understands the importance of data and encourages users to export their historical data and Google hints that more guidance on how to export may be coming in the future. The good news is while we cannot migrate our data to GA4, we can still save it.
Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. Setup any customizations you want, such as a segment for a particular location, a filter for a particular page group, or a secondary dimension for specific landing pages. Choose the file format & click EXPORT in the top right corner. You can choose PDF, Google Sheets, Excel (xlsv), or CSV for extracting the data.
Key Differences between UA & GA4
1. Measurement model
UA uses the measurement model which is based on “sessions” and “pageviews” and everything is based on tracking sessions and views of pages.
GA4 uses the measurement model which is flexible and based on “events” and “parameters”.
2. Tracking IDs
In order to set up any type of tracking in UA via Google Tag Manager, we use the “tracking ID”.
In order to set up any type of tracking in GA4 via Google Tag Manager, we use the “measurement ID”.
3. View and Data Streams
In UA you have an option to create additional views. Here you can create a view for your website and app tracking separately.
In GA4 you do not have the option to create views. However, you do have an option to create data streams for your apps and website.
4. User and event data retention
In UA you can fix the amount of time for data storage set to one of the following:
The options will be 14, 26, 38, and 50 months or ‘Do not automatically expire’.
In the case of GA4, you can select the amount of time period setting to either 2 or 14 months.
5.Real Time Overview
In UA, we can see the data of the users in the last 5 minutes.
In GA4, we can see the data of the users in the last 30 minutes and we can see users by Source, Audience, Page title, and screen name.
GA4 is the key to tracking more insight about the website in terms of Improved Customer Journey Tracking, user engagement analysis, event hits, eCommerce hits, and social interaction hits in which universal analytics have limited data. Also, GA4 is more privacy-focused than Universal Analytics and will not store a user’s IP address.
With GA4 Analytics the Bounce rate metrics no longer exist! Instead, the new metric known as will be used. Engaged sessions are those sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds or had two or more page views. You can determine how many people interact with your website’s content by analyzing just one of these interactions or occurrences.
Cool Features of GA4
Here’s a few cool things you can do with GA4 that you couldn’t do with Universal Analytics:
Let’s see two features in detail.
Enhanced Measurement is a suite of automatic event-tracking features that allows marketers/analysts to collect more data out of the box. In the previous version of GA (called Universal Analytics), we had only pageviews. If you wanted to track some events, you had to customize your setup. In GA4 we have an enhanced measurement option in which it will track the following interactions
In the future the list of events will be increased.
If you want, you can disable/enable events individually and you can do that by clicking the gear icon in the Enhanced Measurement section and then clicking toggle buttons.
Customization of reports
Here we can do customization for all dimensions like Acquisition, Engagement, and Monetization. For example, in Acquisition, we have 3 metrics: Acquisition overview, User Acquisition, and traffic Acquisition for which we can create and edit reports based on our needs.
To customize your report follow the steps given below
By Selecting ADD CARDS we can customize reports based on our requirement as listed below
With more than 25 features already added to GA4, Google hints many upcoming additional features that will make GA4 fully functional by July 1, 2023. The metrics & the insights will make GA4 as one of the best analytics platforms that can be integrated to your website. With data & analytics, there are so many new possibilities, and yet to be discovered capabilities for you to better understand your business and your customers. Google Analytics 4 is a big adjustment but with the support of our experts at Pixel Studios, you can make use of this powerful upgrade to make your online presence better.