Sunsetting UA: Critical Differences in GA4

by Taline Badrikian

Google Analytics has long been a great tool in every brand's arsenal. Digital marketers and business leaders have consistently used this powerful tool to gain meaningful insights into their websites. 

As you are likely aware, Google will sunset its current model: Google Analytics 3, commonly named Universal Analytics (UA). With the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you may wonder how this change will affect your marketing and data collection processes and efforts.

We understand that change is always tricky, but we are here to help. Join us as we explore the similarities and differences between UA and GA4 and, ultimately, how you can use this new version to your unique advantage.

Shifting the Analytic Landscape with Pre-Created Reports

Many have come to love the pre-created report feature available with UA. It gives you a template solution that helps to capture meaningful insights or to use it as a building block for your overall marketing and business efforts.

In the current version of UA, you can create and maintain up to 110 reports. One of the most significant changes is that more than two-thirds have slashed this number, as GA allows brands a maximum of 25. 

Reading this news can sound like a massive blow to the current way of doing things, but it may not be as bad as it seems. Google has made this reduction for a reason. With only 25 reports, it will force teams to think about the conclusions they are drawing and what data they are inferencing for their decisions.

With some of the other changes we'll explore below, you may find that you can reduce your data fluff.

Restructuring Data Organization with Data Streams

You are likely using the current version of the "views" tab. As a concept, this has played a massive role in the organization of your data. A common way to leverage this is to create multiple views and configure each view for a single property to include that in your designated subset of data. 

The current solution makes it possible to view different data sets for each property you have chosen. For example, one could track website traffic, while a subset could dive deeper and ascertain which source drives the most traffic.

Although this concept works well, simplifying and streamlining solutions is a significant theme in the shift toward GA4. Data streams will replace the views tab, meaning your website, app, or web space will be considered a data stream. 

Restructuring in this way restructures and organizes your data in a smoother path that is much simpler to track and analyze.

Event-Based Tracking: Increased Granularity for your Data

So far, the changes have focused on making the current model more streamlined to foster collaboration and ease of use and reduce the time it takes to be up to speed on all platform elements.

Tracking your data is done in sessions. Each activity on your website or app is grouped into a session to provide a comprehensive view of positive metrics that you may find helpful to your decisions and reporting purposes.

Page views, clicks, transactions, abandoned shopping carts, and the time a user spends on your site are all grouped into a session and treated as a whole.

With GA4, Google has received feedback that teams need more insight, flexibility, and control into the data they accumulate from their sites. Each activity is now broken away from a session and becomes its own "event."  This means you can use only the data that makes sense.

For example, if you are a company that focuses on affiliate selling digital products, you may not be responsible for things such as chargeback, traffic, upsells, or something operational. Your KPIs will also change when your goal is different, such as tracking user engagement on your content rather than focusing on a product or service to be sold - for the moment.

Embrace the detailed perspective that GA4 has transformed so that you can create better metrics and track your success in a way that is customized to your brand and team.

Efficient Data Processing: a Limit on Events

Similar to the change that reduces the amount of pre-created reports, GA4 has placed a cap on the number of special events that were previously unlimited in UA.

Google has noticed that offering too many choices can be challenging to know precisely what you need to create meaningful reports that drive changes and good or effective alternatives.

One such restriction is the parameters of characters for naming your event. This may seem restrictive, but it can overall increase efficiency by enabling you to change your naming and number schema to reflect the dynamic environment better.

Embracing Digital Change for the Future

Regardless of the attitude towards GA4, it is a mandatory change you must adapt to. The quicker you accept the changes and leverage the streamlined process, the easier it will be to adopt new practices empowering your data-driven approach.

With a cap on pre-created reports and events, increased data granularity, and data streams - you will have a more robust methodology that you and your team can implement for better results.

Lead generation and data collection have been at the forefront of marketing for generations, and we grow with it. If you need help with your digital marketing start with our free marketing assessment today




Topics: Digital Marketing

Taline Badrikian

Written by Taline Badrikian

Taline is the founder of Laveh Inbound Marketing. Using modern marketing concepts without the hefty price tag, Taline has a history of leading small businesses to explosive growth.