UA Versus GA4: Embryo’s Google Analytics 4 Review

ua-vs-ga4

Move over boys, there’s a new comprehensive analytics tool in town. Google Analytics 4 is set to change the way we create custom reports and unearth insights of all kinds from a single touchpoint.

After a few years on the block following its initial launch, Google Analytics 4 is officially replacing the well-known Universal Analytics reporting platform.

Unless you live firmly outside the digital sphere, it feels like everyone and their Nan have been talking about how their online marketing strategies might be impacted by this migration.

And as Universal Analytics is set to bow out entirely, it’s understandable that many digital marketing teams are thinking, “Is switching to the new Google Analytics even worth it?”

But we get it. Change is scary.

However, Google Analytics 4 is well and truly set to shake up the way we can track performance metrics across a number of domains, offering a more advanced user journey and features than its predecessor.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the key differences between these two industry players and see how GA4 as a reporting tool matches up against the demands of modern social media marketing and content creation before its introduction on 1st July 2023.

What Is Google Analytics 4?

First, a little background.

Google Analytics 4 (formerly the artist known as “App + Web”) is the latest property from Google’s marketing platform. First announced in October 2020, GA4 promises to give businesses and agencies that relied on Universal Analytics ‘the essential insights (they) need to be ready for what’s next.’

The shift comes after privacy-driven alterations to longtime industry standards and how individual users navigate the internet before reaching that all-important checkout funnel. Current approaches to analytics were reportedly unable to keep up, with many calling for overall improvements to be made.

Previously, it was difficult for marketers to get a complete overview of the customer journey and produce insights from the data available.

To combat this, GA4 was born.

With an aim of creating a more intelligent analytics tool, GA4 builds on the skeleton of the App + Web property that was introduced in 2019.

This newly revamped generation of Google Analytics utilises AI technology and machine learning in order to glean information and insights across a number of devices and platforms. It is also designed to prioritise privacy within its design, so it can keep up with legislative changes within the industry and identify any gaps in the data it picks up.

Is Universal Analytics going away?

The short answer to this is yes. And the slightly longer version is: yes, but it’s also taking all your data with it.

You see, the old system (which is Universal Analytics) and the new property (GA4) aren’t seamlessly connected as you might expect.

There are no plans in place for a mass-automatic import, unfortunately, which means any historical data held by UA is set to stay there unless you choose to migrate it to the new model.

But not to worry, your old data will still be ready and waiting for in your historical Universal Analytics Property, but from the 1st of July 2023, Google will simply stop collecting and processing data for it.

For businesses who are still keen on using data collated year-on-year through a google analytics tool, it’s imperative it is migrated over to GA4 before the cut-off date.

Still not sure what all the fuss is about? We’ll give you the full comparison next.

So, what is the difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics?

Excellent question. There are a few major differences when it comes to each separate tool, but they are sure to revolutionise the way you work with data – including the way you produce reports.

Goodbye Monthly Hit Limits

Monthly hit limits are no more – GA4 has officially put those pesky perimeters to bed.

Previously, the free version of Universal Analytics would cap hits at 10 million, but with GA4, agencies and clients are free to collect all the data their little marketing heart desires.

Instead, GA4 follows an event-based model, putting a limit on the amount of event tracking you can perform. At writing, this is 500, which gives more than enough room to collate and collect analytics.

A Different Calibre of Model

Tyra Banks vs Naomi Campbell? Nah, this is another kind of model rivalry.

Arguably the biggest difference between UA and GA4 is the models (or methods) they use to infer data.

Traditionally, Universal Analytics uses a measurement model. This is based on sessions made up of page views – which is pretty much the bread and butter of internet analytics – focusing on user interactions or hits within a time frame.

As such, a chosen session can pick up eCommerce payments, multiple types of events, and, of course, pageviews.

In comparison, Google Analytics 4 uses a model built around parameters and events, which allows any interaction to be interpreted and ‘captured’ as the events themselves.

The four GA4 event types are:

  • Automatically collected events (or auto events) – These are events that are tracked automatically when the GA4 base code is first installed.
  • Enhanced measurement events – These are also automatically collected alongside the base code but can be tweaked. They include outbound clicks, site search, scrolls, and even video engagement.
  • Recommended Events – These are split by industry type and are recommended by Google. These have a broad scope and naming conventions are not essential.
  • Custom Events – These are parameters and events that, as the name suggests, you can create and put in place yourself through your website. This is capped at 500 named events, as we mentioned previously.

While these changes might not sound particularly jaw-dropping, it means that all hit types previously used by Universal Analytics will easily translate into events within GA4 – which sure takes the headache out of migration.

Is it worth upgrading to Google Analytics 4?

In our humble opinion: absolutely.

It’s an amazing bit of kit that blows UA completely out of the water – nothing personal, of course.

From the top line, GA4 is better than its predecessor in a number of ways. It is privacy-focused and super-durable, making it a sensible choice for future-proofing your business and digital interests.

It is also incredibly intelligent, using machine learning to lift the lid on your customer’s journey as they traverse platforms and devices – giving you insights that make reliably informed decisions.

This AI is also able to counter cookie blocking and deletion, allowing you to continually lift the curtain on your target market’s buying habits by filling in the gaps with historical data to accurately predict future purchases. When it comes to reporting, these predictive metrics can focus on chosen data points to help businesses hone in on what really matters. Neat, eh?

If that wasn’t enough, GA4 can also optimise campaign performance and deliver better marketing ROI in comparison to UA, thanks to seamless melding with Google’s existing advertising platforms.

How can Embryo help me migrate to GA4?

Ready to get moving? Migrating now gives you time to become familiar with GA4before GA is retired in July 2023.

But we can help with that. To arrange this migration with our team, get in touch today by phone on 0161 327 2635 or drop us an email at info@embryodigital.co.uk – a member of our friendly team will be in touch.