Announced in March, Universal Analytics, or GA, will be replaced by Google Analytics 4, or GA4, July 2023. Setting up, and starting your GA4 account and tag tracking is very important so you can start collecting website data immediately. Then when July 2023 rolls around, you’ll be ready with the new Google Analytics 4 analytics platform.
It is highly recommended you run the two analytics platforms simultaneously to ease into using the new Google Analytics 4 platform.
GA vs GA4
The 5 main differences
- The biggest difference between GA and GA4 is the measurement model that they use. GA uses a measurement model based on sessions and page views. As you may know, a session is a group of user interactions, or hits, with a website which take place over a given timeframe. GA4 counts all hit types (page view, social, transaction, etc.) as events, otherwise known as an Events Based Data Model. The four categories are below.
- GA was built for the desktop and web era, whereas, GA4 has a mobile first perspective.
- With cookies going away, it’s still good to know something about visitors. Google Analytics 4 allows everything that is known about a visitor to be captured without identifying them personally. Plus, users can request data deletion and you can stay GDPR compliant when you follow through.
- With GA, tracking was something that had to be embedded on your website, whereas you’ll now be able to set up tracking within the GA4 platform directly.
- GA4 has less settings to control than GA. This has mixed reviews among managers. You can be the judge. Reporting Identity, Custom Dimensions, Administrator Settings, Property Settings, Attribution Models, User Management, Data Deletion Request (to be compliant with GDPR) are all new in GA4.
GA4 Event categories
Automatically Collected Events – When you install the GA4 base code, these events are automatically tracked. They include page_view, first_visit, and session_start.
Enhanced Measurements Events – These events are automatic as well and include scrolls, outbound clicks, site search and video engagement.
Recommended Events – These are Google recommended, split into industry, events. For example, an eCommerce event for your website. Besides the eCommerce event, they aren’t essential and are somewhat broad otherwise.
Custom Events – These events can be created by you or your manager. Currently GA4 allows 500 distinctly named events, but this could possibly change in the future.
Need more GA vs GA4 information?
Reach out to iKANDE or watch this video by Jeffalytics. It’s less than 15 minutes.
Plus, there is a handy Periodic Table of Google Analytics 4 here breaking down everything into digestible segments.