Understanding Google Analytics 4

Insight > Strategy, Web Dev

Understanding Google Analytics 4

Differences Between GA4 and UA

August 4, 2022

  1. GA4 is more labor intensive than its predecessor Universal Analytics (UA), requiring manual tagging and extracting to identify informative takeaways from the data.
    1. We implement custom reporting and metrics to measure equivalent data from UA, including form submissions, certain click types, and outbound links.
  2. GA4’s demographic data (age, gender, and interest) is unreliable. The system only collects information from logged-in Google users who have specifically authorized Google to collect this demographic data.
    1. We recommend disabling the collection of demographic data to ensure compliance with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We are ready to develop and deploy an alternative measuring matrix to provide better insights.
  3. Third-party tracking plugins are not fully compatible with GA4, specifically when it comes to filtering out internal traffic from IT teams – leading to skewed results.
    1. After extensive research and testing, we have transitioned to using Google’s official plugin, Site Kit.
  4. GA4 does not include certain metrics from UA, including average session duration, pages per session, time on page, and bounce rate.
    1. We create custom metrics to measure equivalent data.
  5. GA4 has a standard reporting view that cannot be customized like in UA, increasing the time needed to review data.
    1. We use special applications and services that allow us to create different reports based on our clients’ needs.
  6. GA4 is very temperamental; even small changes to the reporting system can lead to delays in receiving data.
    1. We have implemented policies to prepare for, schedule, and efficiently carry out any changes at strategic times in order to minimize any delays.
  7. There can be a delay of up to 12 hours before data gathered by GA4 reaches our reporting tool, increasing the turnaround time for a report.
    1. We triple-check data received by our reporting compared to live reporting, ensuring we have the “full picture” before generating a report.
  8. GA4’s native video tracking is inconsistent, often missing video plays during live testing.
    1. For this reason, we integrate separate video tracking via the Google Tag Manager service – which has performed flawlessly.
  9. GA4 is not fully compliant with the EU’s GDPR by default – which has become a pressing issue in recent weeks/months as Google lost major lawsuits for its deployment of Google Analytics.
    1. In response, we have developed a quick self-assessment to determine your need for compliance and corresponding service levels.
      Click here to take this guided assessment.

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