Google Analytics 4 (GA4) guide

Written by Team Ciente  »  Updated on: July 07th, 2024

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) guide

In contrast to its predecessors, GA4 represents a thoroughly overhauled platform. It boasts a fresh interface, a novel tag template in Google Tag Manager, a revamped data model, and revised steps for configuration.

This transformation naturally prompts a series of inquiries: Where does one begin? What constitutes the optimal setup?

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 stands as the latest iteration of the Google Analytics platform, representing an entirely new generation of web analytics. Unlike the previous versions, GA4 enables marketers to delve beyond merely tracking traffic and delve into a comprehensive analysis of crucial customer usage metrics. This version follows the entire customer journey across various platforms, harnessing the power of AI and machine learning to furnish detailed insights into user interactions with both websites and apps.

Noteworthy is GA4’s emphasis on customer privacy, aligning with recent privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. With its privacy-first tracking approach, cross-channel data measurement, and the integration of AI-driven predictive analytics, GA4 emerges as an advanced tool offering unparalleled insights into user behavior.

Google Analytics 4: Pros and Cons

Whether you embrace it or not, Google Analytics 4 has firmly established itself in the analytics landscape. However, that doesn’t mean it’s exempt from scrutiny. While it stands as a commendable platform, there are notable downsides, especially for those accustomed to the familiarity of Universal Analytics.

Let’s outline the primary pros and cons of Google Analytics 4

Pros:

1. Granular User Journey Tracking: Google Analytics 4 facilitates a detailed analysis of user interactions by allowing you to track events precisely. Whether it’s product views, PDF downloads, or internal link clicks, the platform enables the creation of customer funnels, offering a step-by-step insight into the user journey.

2. Custom Audience Creation: Users can refine and organize data with highly granular custom audiences. Additionally, these custom audiences seamlessly integrate with Google Ads and other Google services.

3. Integration Across Multiple Platforms: Google Analytics 4 supports multiple data streams, enabling the integration of various websites and apps within the property limits of the platform.

Cons:

1. Different Interface from Universal Analytics: The transition to Google Analytics 4 introduces a new interface, necessitating users to relearn the intricacies of the analytics tool. Notably, those familiar with Universal Analytics since 2012 may encounter significant feature changes.

2. Incompatibility for Data Migration from Universal Analytics: Due to the substantial differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics, the two platforms are not compatible for data migration. Consequently, users cannot compare data stored in Universal Analytics with data in GA4.

3. Limit on Custom Dimensions: While the creation of custom dimensions is a valuable feature in Google Analytics 4, there is a limit imposed on the number of custom dimensions allowed. Although the limit is slightly higher than Universal Analytics, it still imposes constraints on tracking user locations, device types, and clicks.

4. Absence of View Filters: In contrast to Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 lacks view filters, making it challenging to isolate data within a dataset or segment. Although users can create new segments, they face limitations in narrowing down the data within these segments. Notably, exclusions based on specific IP addresses or subdomains become impossible once segments are created.

Conclusion

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) signifies a notable advancement in web analytics, introducing a redesigned platform featuring a modern interface, innovative tag template, updated data model, and revised configuration steps. It stands apart from its predecessors by offering a more in-depth analysis of customer usage metrics throughout the entire customer journey across diverse platforms.

Through the incorporation of AI and machine learning, GA4 provides detailed insights into user interactions with websites and apps. While it presents a robust and privacy-focused analytics solution with advanced features, users should be cognizant of the learning curve associated with its new interface and take into account limitations, especially in data migration and customization capabilities, when transitioning from Universal Analytics.

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