Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics

Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics

Five Reasons We’re Using Both… for now.

Google Analytics is transitioning digital marketers from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). However, many users are unsure if the transition is merited and believe they are losing features instead of gaining benefits when switching.

We agree that there is value to both platforms. While Universal Analytics has far better reporting, there are some features unique to GA4. We’re currently setting up a new GA4 property in addition to their existing UA property for all our clients. Here’s why we decided to keep using both GA4 and Universal Analytics for now:

1. Staying Relevant

Google continues to innovate, and innovation begins with marketing. It keeps Google on top of digital marketers’ needs and keeps us informed about new trends. Since Google is moving towards GA4, we don’t want to be left behind. 

2. Enhanced Measurement

My favorite feature of GA4 is Enhanced Measurement. Google will automatically track events related to pageviews, outbound clicks, scrolls, site search, video engagement, and file downloads. It does all of this without requiring anything more than a Google Tag Manager (GTM) configuration tag. Enhanced Measurement makes standard event tracking easier to set up, especially for someone new to GTM.

3. Tag Manager Benefits

Need custom tracking? GA4 makes it easier to set up and test tags that Enhanced Measurement doesn’t capture. Universal Analytics had a tedious and limited Event Category, Action, and Label structure to send more event information. With a GA4 tag, you define the information collected when the tag triggers. 

For example, to track someone clicking on an icon that shows up on multiple pages of your site, set up GTM to collect the “page_url” that had the click. Then, you will see performance changes between pages. The same thing works with mobile vs. desktop.

Once set up, you still preview the tag within GTM. However, they added a “DebugView” feature in GA4 that allows marketers and SEO’s to confirm that analytics is receiving the information.

4. Reporting

It seems to be pretty “universal” to think that Universal Analytics has far better reporting. While this is somewhat true, we’ve found that GA4 has some solid reporting capabilities. Sure, Universal analytics has more pre-built menus that reveal lots of data if you know where to look. However, with proper setup and utilization, GA4 offers more refined reporting on your website’s performance.

5. Simplicity

Beginners easily get lost in Universal Analytics. (I know because I learned on Universal Analytics). GA4’s layout is intuitive. Users can find nearly everything in 5 places: Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, Demographics, or Tech. If it isn’t in one of those five areas, you’ll need to create a custom report. The simplicity and lack of confusing menus helps users find information quickly and naturally instead of digging forever.

Wrap up

We began transitioning over to GA4 to experience the best of both products while being ready for the shift to come. Let us know if we can answer any questions about GA4.


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