Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics: The Transition

Google Analytics, Google’s web analytics solution, has served millions of users ever since its launch in 2005.

‘s most popular web analytics service┬áin 2019 collects data from websites and apps to provide insight for professionals.

The analytics tools are becoming more and more sophisticated. Thanks to technological advancements, like artificial intelligence, they provide more precise data about users. These tools can also provide detailed information about user interaction with a site.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest analytics tool from Google. It’s the latest version of Universal Analytics. This is the version most professionals know and have used for a long time.

Universal Analytics will stop processing data by July 1, 2023. This means that the company is no longer in business. It is, therefore, essential to begin the transition now, as this is a complex process.

Even though GA4 is similar to Universal Analytics and has some differences, it is more than just a replacement. Here’s everything you need to understand to make the transition.

There are some similarities and differences between the two analytics tools.

Cookies and Privacy

Google Analytics 4 puts privacy first. Google has made a significant move to protect user data by removing IP addresses.

We can now have a more privacy-friendly system with a more straightforward data deletion process, different data retention options, and the ability to disable location-specific information. GA4 offers marketers a way to use data in another way.

Both GA4 and Universal Analytics rely on cookies to track a website’s visitors. GA4 relies less on cookies. Instead, it uses machine learning to fill data gaps in line with Google’s increasingly strict data privacy regulations.

It also helps advertisers to understand the consumers they should target by filling in any gaps in their consumer behavior.

Marketers can use the data from apps and online to focus more on the user’s journey, from the initial visit to the conversion.

Session-based profiling vs. Event Based Profiling

GA4 measures user interaction by analyzing events, not sessions. GA4 is different from Universal Analytics in that it records every event. This could be a purchase, a click on a site, or a comment. The latter records only sessions.

A session is the umbrella term for all user actions in a certain period. A session is a term that covers all events a user undertakes in a given period.

Tracking events, and not just sessions, gives users much more detailed data that can be used to improve marketing strategies over time and increase sales. GA4, therefore, tracks all events that occur in the client journey rather than focusing on just page views.

GA4 incorporates AI and machine learning predictive data to understand user behavior through the event-based model better. GA4’s event-based analytics and cross-device report optimize websites and experiences online by creating a single journey for the user.

GA4 focuses on the number of active users as opposed to the overall user count of the Universal Analytics platform. This provides a cross-channel perspective of the lifecycle of the customer.

The same machine learning simplifies and enhances insight discovery, combining online and app data within one property. UA, on the other hand, has minimal automation.

GA4 is unique in that it analyzes a user’s behavior across multiple devices. It’s well known that consumers use multiple devices in today’s world to access content or make purchases.

The ability of GA4 to analyze data from multiple devices, including mobile phones, desktops, tablets, and laptops, gives marketing professionals an advantage from a marketing perspective.

New Metrics

All analytics tools provide specific metrics to help analyze the performance of a website or application. However, the metrics provided by GA4 are more precise and advanced than Universal Analytics.

The rate of engagement is the ratio between the sessions where users engaged in some way and the entire sessions. This metric shows what a particular user does on your website.

A user may have 200 sessions but only engage in 50. In this case, 25% would be the engagement rate. Some metrics track certain types of engagement.

One of the metrics, for example, tracks engagements lasting longer than 10 seconds. These metrics are helpful because they do not lump all forms of interaction into the same bag – aka category. They provide detailed information which can help improve a site.

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