Times are changing, and so is everything with it. Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that helps website owners track website traffic and how users interact with their site amidst other functions. Universal Analytics (UA) was launched in October 2013 and has been in use ever since then. However, technology has improved and will only keep improving; the factors considered for creating Universal Analytics years ago are no longer the same today.
Years back, most people accessed the internet with their browsers; therefore, Universal Analytics was tailored to suit desktop browsers. Today, 58% of web browsers access the internet with their mobile devices, hence the need to adapt to remain relevant and the emergence of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Google analytics 4 is a new property designed to deliver Universal Analytics services better and more efficiently. Some features available on the paid premium version of Universal Analytics, such as BigQuery, are now accessible on Google Analytics 4.
From July 1st, 2023, Universal Analytics will be retired, and it will be mandatory to use Google Analytics 4.
Here are five major ways it is better than Universal Analytics:
Cross-platform and Cross-device Analysis
Unlike Universal Analytics, where you can only generate website data analysis, Google analytics 4 allows you to generate data on user interactions with your website and mobile application. Google analytics 4 is not only capable of syncing website and mobile app data, but it is also capable of syncing information when users access websites using different devices. This gives room for more integrated and precise insight and gives you a more holistic view of customer interaction.
Google Analytics works with cookies. For many reasons, cookies are sent to your browsers when you visit a website. They help the website remember you and how you interact with the page and make it easier for your next visit.
However, third parties cookies can threaten users’ privacy; therefore, some users do not accept cookies, and such user’s data is not recorded. This subject matter was addressed in Google Analytics 4, which does not exclusively rely on cookies, thus, improving the user’s experience and providing more accurate insights.
This feature was only previously available for the premium version of Universal Analytics and is now available for free on Google analytics 4. Google analytics 4 records data on every action carried out on a website.
It records how a visitor entered your site, whether through an organic search or a paid ad, and the activities carried out on the website by a user before making a purchase. It also determines which traffic source should take credit for a purchase. This helps website owners in marketing strategies and campaigns, showing where most of their sales come from and where to improve.
Easy integration with Google Ads
Google Analytics 4 allows easy integration with Google ads and gives more detailed information than Universal Analytics. You can therefore check and monitor your Google Ads campaign performance in Google analytics and run more specific and better marketing campaigns.
Better data model
The data model utilized in Universal Analytics is not the same in Google Analytics 4. Universal Analytics uses a data model based on sessions and pageviews. A session is a group of users’ interaction with a website over a given period, also known as hits. A session comprises events, page views, and e-commerce transactions.
Google Analytics 4, on the other hand, uses a model based on events and parameters. Any interaction on the site is counted as an event and is much more flexible than Universal Analytics. While Universal analytics has a monthly limit of 10m hits, Google Analytics 4 doesn’t and thus helps website owners collect as much data as possible.
With all these and many more reasons, Google Analytics 4 beats Universal analytics hands down, and Google will commence sunsetting Universal Analytics from July 1st, 2023, which is less than a year away. It will then be mandatory to use Google Analytics 4. Retiring Universal analytics also means you won’t be able to access data on it again.
Since Google analytics 4 was launched on October 14th, 2020, if you created your property after that time, it is likely it is Google analytics 4 you are using. However, if you are still using Universal analytics, you need to switch to Google analytics 4 as soon as possible. You can create a Google Analytics 4 property and run it parallel to the Universal Analytics you have currently so you can have some historical data on your Google Analytics 4 property once Universal Analytics is retired. Also, Google Analytics is an entirely new property with a different interface, and setting it up early means you get to be familiar with its operations well on time.