No matter whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a novice, you would know that businesses are not just run by the owner or the employees; they’re also run by data.
You need facts, figures, and a path-breaking analysis of it all to transform your business into a successful venture. That’s where analytical tools like Google Analytics (GA) come to the forefront.
They help you gain a crystal clear view of what’s happening behind the scenes (your website): the way users are engaging or how they’re bouncing off your web or application, the inflow of traffic, conversions, etc. The GA has undergone several advancements ever since its inception, the latest being Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Google has stated that “Google Analytics 4 is our next-generation measurement solution, and it’s replacing Universal Analytics”.
It has also clarified that the standard Universal Analytics properties will also stop processing the data from July 1, 2023.
Let us discuss the fundamentals of Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics and the noteworthy advancements thereof.
Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4: Understanding the Journey
Universal Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool that allows businesses to monitor and assess user behaviour on their websites in real time. It offers a host of features, including custom dimensions and metrics, enhanced e-commerce tracking, audience segmentation, and seamless integration with other Google services.
The features stood the test of time back then and equipped businesses with unique data enabling them to make data-driven decisions to optimise website performance and drive growth.
However, the behavioural patterns of users have changed manifolds since 2012, when the UA was first launched. Modern users began to engage with numerous platforms and devices, which also gave rise to serious privacy concerns. That’s precisely the point where traditional analytics struggled to provide comprehensive insights, thus prompting the development of GA4.
Hence, businesses are now shifting towards more advanced analytics solutions like Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google Analytics 4 is the latest generation of web analytics that employs innovative approaches like artificial intelligence and machine learning to record observations pertaining to customers’ engagement with your website or application across multiple devices and platforms.
This latest version makes up for several limitations and challenges posed by the conventional UA with its enhanced tracking, measurement, and privacy-focused analysis capabilities.
Comparing Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4
Following are some of the key differences between the two versions of Google Analytics.
- Event-based Tracking instead of Session-based Tracking
A transition from session-based tracking to event-based tracking in Google Analytics 4 is one of the remarkable differences. While Universal Analytics relies on session-based tracking through pageviews and interactions, GA4 emphasises individual user events. This also helps the latter address several user actions such as clicks, scrolls, or conversions in a more detail-oriented fashion.
- Cross-platform Analytical Capabilities as Against Single-platform Tracking
GA4 erases the distinction between tracking on mobile apps and websites as in the case of Universal Analytics. It lets businesses seamlessly track user interactions on both platforms, also known as cross-platform analysis, providing a more holistic view of users’ behaviour and preferences.
Interestingly, businesses can also leverage these insights to create more targeted marketing strategies and cross-platform user experiences.
- Privacy-centric Approach
Considering the continuously evolving facets of privacy, GA4 lays a stronger emphasis on user privacy, which was a major miss in Universal Analytics.
The latest tool exhibits advanced privacy features like data deletion and consent mode, which allows users to opt out of data collection. In addition, it has a built-in IP anonymisation feature to mask user data.
Furthermore, GA4 shuns the dependence on third-party cookies for data collection. These advancements demonstrate GA4’s commitment towards user privacy.
- Ability to Directly Integrate into the Media Platforms
Google Analytics 4 enables direct integrations with media platforms. It lets users easily connect their analytics data with popular advertising platforms, allowing them to better understand how the marketing campaigns are performing across websites and mobile apps and make data-driven decisions for increased ROI which is essential for successful SEO campaign.
In contrast, the conventional UA required complex manual processes or third-party integrations to gain such insights.
The future of analytics with GA4 looks promising. It would be interesting to learn how Google further improves its product and equips users with stronger analytical capabilities in its upcoming advancements.