Google UA vs. GA4 - What is so different? is it better or not?
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps website owners track and analyze their website traffic, but with the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in October 2020, many website owners are wondering if they should upgrade from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 (Hint: you don't really have the option not to upgrade). In this post, we'll explore the benefits and limitations of GA4 and provide a detailed list of features that are available in UA but not supported in GA4.
Benefits of GA4 Over UA
Data Collection Model: GA4 uses an event-based data model, while UA uses a session-based model.
Cross-Device Tracking: GA4 has built-in cross-device tracking features, while UA required additional configuration.
Reporting Capabilities: GA4 has more powerful and flexible reporting capabilities compared to UA.
Machine Learning: GA4 uses machine learning to help with data analysis and insights.
Property and View Structure: In GA4, you can use a single property to collect data from multiple sources and analyze them separately.
User Privacy: GA4 provides more advanced data controls that give users more control over their data.
Limitations of GA4 Compared to UA
Annotations: Annotations allow website owners to add notes to their analytics data to provide context for specific events or changes on their website. While this feature is available in UA, it is not yet available in GA4.
Custom Variables: Custom variables allow website owners to track and segment data based on custom dimensions that they define, such as user type or product category. In GA4, this functionality has been replaced with custom dimensions and metrics, which work slightly differently and may require additional configuration.
Funnel Visualization: The Funnel Visualization report in UA allows website owners to see how users move through a series of steps on their website, such as a checkout process. This report is not currently available in GA4, but website owners can create similar reports using the Funnel Analysis report. However, the Funnel Analysis report is less flexible than the Funnel Visualization report in UA, which may make it more difficult to identify issues with your funnel.
Custom Reports: Custom Reports in UA allow website owners to create highly customized reports based on the data that is most important to them. While GA4 does have a Custom Report feature, it is less flexible than the one in UA. This means that it may be more difficult to create custom reports that meet your specific analytics needs.
Remarketing: Remarketing allows website owners to show targeted ads to users who have previously visited their website. While this feature is available in GA4, it requires additional setup and is not as straightforward as it is in UA. This means that it may take more time and effort to set up and manage remarketing campaigns in GA4.
While GA4 offers many benefits over UA, such as a more flexible data model, cross-device tracking, and advanced data controls, it's important to consider the limitations and missing features when deciding whether to upgrade. Some features that were available in UA, such as annotations, custom variables, and custom reports, are not yet available in GA4, and website owners may need to spend more time and effort to achieve similar results.
It's important to note that Google has announced that starting July 1st, 2023, UA properties will no longer process data. This means that website owners will need to migrate to GA4 before the deadline if they want to continue tracking and analyzing their website traffic. Google has also stated that starting in March 2023, website owners should create a new GA4 property or one will be created for them based on their original property and reusing existing site tags. This indicates that the migration to GA4 is not only encouraged but necessary for website owners who want to maintain their website measurement and analytics capabilities.
Did you start the migration to GA4
- Yes, but still missing some of the UA features
- Yes and I love it
- No, and I don't have a clue how to start
Read also: Time to upgrade to GA4 - Here’s How to Do it and Keep Your Historic Data & Annotations