Implementing Google Analytics 4 – it’s time!

Implementing Google Analytics 4 – it’s time!

Google Analytics 4 and the previous version of this tool Universal Analytics are marketing platforms that are very different from each other both in terms of data collection methodology and report design. For this reason, it is not possible to migrate historical data from UA to GA 4 however, historical data will be stored in the Universal Analytics account. For this reason, Google recommended migrating to the new version of Google Analytics as soon as possible. Both of these tools can be implemented within a single website. They will, however, collect and present data in reports in a slightly different way. GA4 is able to automatically track not only pageviews, but also other events.


Plan your migration

The most important thing to consider when planning a migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is the fact that we can’t perform the migration completely automatically with all settings preserved. This is quite an inconvenience, however, it also represents an opportunity to revise the current implementation and current settings of this tool. Migration to GA version 4 should be planned in advance. Before migrating, it is necessary to analyze all current events and take an assessment of which ones are used in the organization. This way we won’t have to migrate all events, but only those that actually contribute to deepening our analysis. It is best to download all existing events with parameters into a spreadsheet and make a list of events that will be migrated and a list of events that will be omitted from the migration process. The structure of events in Google Analytics 4 is different compared to UA. In Universal Analytics, we could additionally label each event with four parameters (Category, Action, Label and Value), while in GA4 the main parameter is the Event Name, while we are free to add names and values for further parameters. In GA4 we can give each event as many as 25 parameters, and this is quite enough. Most often, it is enough to give 2-3 parameters to one event. We must also remember that in GA4 we do not have at our disposal a built-in report showing collectively the parameters of given events. We need to generate such a report by first defining custom dimensions that are pre-configured parameters. We have 50 custom dimensions at our disposal, so from the GA4 panel we will be able to analyze a maximum of 50 parameters (let’s keep this in mind when planning to assign parameters to events).


Use Google Tag Manager

Using Google Tag Manager definitely simplifies the entire migration process, which is why we strongly recommend performing the migration using GTM. We can easily implement GA4 code with this tool as well as use the same rules and variables for event configuration that triggered events in Universal Analytics. If, on the other hand, the codes were added directly in the site code, then event migration is much more complicated. If analytics.js code was used (the old version of tracking code) then developers will have to manually insert code into each element that defines an event. If, on the other hand, a newer version of the code is used, gtag.js then we can merge the existing tag with GA4. However, the best solution, which we strongly recommend, is to use Google Tag Manager in the migration process.


Goal migration and conversion setup

An important difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is that we no longer have goals in the new tool. In the previous version of Google Analytics, we had several types of goals available to us:

  • Smart Goal
  • Place Target
  • Time on page
  • Event


Now they have been replaced by conversions and we have only one type of conversion to choose from – event. So all other goal types (destination, smart goal, time on page) will not be migrated and you have to configure them anew, but based on events already. So-called smart goals are no longer available at all in GA4. Conversion based on a certain time on page will now have to be configured as an event that triggers after a certain amount of time the user is on the page.


It’s necessary, but also worth it

The implementation of Google Analytics 4 represents a significant step forward for website owners and marketers. The new version of the analytics platform offers a number of innovative features to better understand user actions on the site and make business decisions more effectively.

With the introduction of an event model and conversion events, Google Analytics 4 provides a more comprehensive and accurate view of user behavior. We can now track and analyze the individual steps visitors take on the site. This enables us to better understand conversion paths and identify potential areas of improvement.

The introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in Google Analytics 4 also opens up new perspectives for data analysis. The tool is able to detect important patterns and trends that can contribute to the success of marketing campaigns. In addition, expanded reporting features enable more advanced data analysis, so we can better understand the effectiveness of our efforts and optimize strategies. Also not to be overlooked are significant improvements in the area of data privacy. Google Analytics 4 adapts to changing regulations and privacy standards, providing greater control over user data. The introduction of the unique identifier (UID) model solution helps to effectively monitor and analyze users without the need for cookies.

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