Google Analytics 4 FAQ: How to use the new update to your advantage

Google has confirmed that it will phase out Universal Analytics from the middle of next year. It’s really important to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) now so you can start collecting data. Adam Futer, Google Analytics Specialist at Vertical Leap, explains why this isn’t just a simple update, but a complete overhaul of the system and the data it works with.

Migrating to Google Analytics 4 is a daunting task and raises some important questions, which we address in this FAQ.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 replaces the previous version of Google Analytics, known as Universal Analytics (UA) or Google Analytics 3. GA4 was first released in 2019 (Beta) as App + Web, but it has was renamed to Google Analytics 4 in October 2020 and announced as the new default property and replacement for Universal Analytics.

How is GA4 different from Universal Analytics?

Google Analytics 4 is not an upgrade to Universal Analytics; it is a replacement that completely changes the operation of the system. We can’t list all the differences in one answer, but three key changes that illustrate the importance of the move to GA4:

  1. GA4 uses an event-based measurement system, replacing the session-based system we all know from previous versions of Google Analytics

  2. GA4 does not use third-party cookies: It uses first-party cookies to track users across sessions and machine learning to fill in the gaps left by the absence of third-party cookies.

  3. Reports and interfaces: New measurement model brings new measurements, interfaces and reports to GA4

Overall, GA4 is easier to pick up and use for beginners, and the platform helps you analyze funnels, conversion paths, and customer journeys more easily.

What does moving to an event-based model mean?

The new event-based system replaces the old model designed to track individual sessions or groups of sessions. Now, sessions are just one event among many (just like pageviews), and GA4 helps you determine how they contribute to customer journeys across devices and how those events help your website drive traffic. income.

Should I migrate to Google Analytics 4?

Yes. Earlier this year, Google announced that all standard Universal Analytics accounts will stop processing data on July 1, 2023, followed by Universal Analytics 360 properties on October 1, 2023. After these dates, Universal accounts will no longer collect data, and shortly after these dates, you’ll no longer be able to access previous data either (Google estimates around six months).

Can’t I wait until next year to migrate?

You can, but it’s a bad idea. Google Analytics 4 is a completely different system from Universal Analytics and most of your UA data is not compatible with the new property. You are not exporting your existing data into GA4; you’re starting from scratch and collecting new data again – and the sooner you start doing that, the better.

So all my UA data is now useless?

Not exactly. We recommend that you migrate to GA4 as soon as possible and run both your UA and GA4 accounts side by side. This way you can start creating GA4 data and compare it to what you see in UA over the same period.

You also have the option of exporting as much Universal Analytics data as possible to a third-party platform for future reference, but this will not help the migration to GA4.

How can I migrate to Google Analytics 4?

The migration to Google Analytics 4 includes five key steps:

  1. Basic setup: Create your new property-level Google Analytics 4 account and run it alongside GA3 to collect data.

  2. GA4 events: Add events in your new account to track top user actions on your website, e.g. CTA clicks, items added to cart, form interactions, video views

  3. GA4 lenses: Create goals using your GA events (if applicable) so you can track key conversion goals when users interact with your website.

  4. GA4 Audience Setup: Add audience configurations to collect and display data for different audience types, e.g. organic traffic, new visitors, returning visitors, buyer personas

  5. Confirmation: After the initial setup process, let your new GA4 property run and verify that it is collecting data as expected after the first month

Need help setting up Google Analytics 4?

Our Google Analytics team can handle all of this for you, or just offer advice to ensure you’re set up correctly. To request a quote, contact us on 02392 830281 or [email protected]

// Featured in this article

vertical jump

Vertical Leap is the UK’s most successful search marketing agency. We use data science and intelligent automation to analyze millions of data points, allowing us to achieve more scale than humanly possible and make evidence-based decisions that give results.

Learn more

Lance B. Holton