Why Migrate to Google Analytics 4 in 2023?

Important update!

Universal Analytics, the standard version of Google Analytics, will stop processing new data on July 1, 2023. Universal Analytics 360 will benefit from an additional three months of data processing, ending on October 1, 2023. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will remain the only Google analytics tool to track your website activity after those dates.

What does it mean for you? Switching to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible is critical if you want to generate the necessary historical data. But how to implement this change? How to switch to GA4? Why is it essential to get started now? And more importantly, what does your brand need to do? We’ll try to cover these questions in this article.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Let’s start with the main terms to keep the whole story consistent. Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that allows you to monitor engagement and traffic across all your websites and apps. Its focus is to provide you with more data throughout the entire customer journey lifecycle. GA4 is a new forward-thinking solution that:

  • Possesses predictive capabilities that offer guidance without complex models
  • Collects website and app data to understand the customer journey better
  • Provides direct integrations to media platforms that help drive action on tour website or app
  • Uses event-based data instead of session-based
  • Includes privacy controls (conversion and behavioral modeling, cookieless measurement)

History of Google Analytics


How Does Google Analytics 4 Work?

The new Google Analytics offers a machine learning approach to get helpful insights automatically and gives you a complete understanding of your customers. It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on analytics even when industry changes like restrictions on identifiers and cookies create gaps in your data. A few examples of its capabilities include:

  • Anticipating customer actions by calculating churn probability
  • Automatic alerts of trends in the data (for example, increased demand for a specific product)
  • Other predictive metrics such as revenue estimates from audience groups

New Features in Google Analytics 4 Iteration

Google Analytics 4 offers more customer journey details, new metrics and dimensions, and new reporting features. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of our nine favorite features.

  1. Event-based funnels

    Funnels help to track traffic flow and user behavior on your website. GA4 allows you to set up custom funnels based on events (not just URLs), giving flexibility to measuring user behavior. Also, you can compare the exact paths people take through your website to determine which path is the most effective at converting them to the next buyer’s journey. This feature will help to optimize your website navigation.

  2. New reporting features

    Now GA4 custom reports are available in a new “Analysis” section where you can drag and drop metrics, dimensions, and segments and control data on the fly. In addition, you can either create custom reports or use ready-made templates, including such categories as segment overlap, exploration, user explorer, path analysis, user lifetime activity, etc.

  3. New reporting features in GA4


  4. Audience-based conversions

    With GA4, it’s possible to track how audiences convert. This is a huge benefit for marketers who used to rely on reports showing only session-based data. Getting a more robust understanding of how your audience converts with time is far more beneficial in assessing the effectiveness of your engagement campaigns and retargeting audiences.

  5. Pathing and user flows

    In GA4, this feature is flexible, highly dynamic, and includes backward and forward pathing. You can start with a conversion you care about and see what events or pages preceded it. This is especially valuable for creating a data warehouse in BigQuery using Google Analytics 4.

  6. Dimensions and metrics scoping

    In GA4, dimension and metric scoping are separate. It means you’ll be able to scope metrics by a dimension or scope dimensions by a metric in one property and not the other. You can also modify these scopes for your data sources at once and set user-scoped custom dimensions to identify users’ static or slowly changing attributes. These custom dimensions will allow you to create focused user segments, collect complex data, and deliver campaigns with more relevant messages.

  7. New Google Ads linking and predictive analysis

    Everything you create in Google Ads is automatically shared with your Analytics account. This is helpful and a simple way to share data if you have two different Ads and Analytics accounts managers. Also, Google added predictive capabilities, so if you’re using GA4, Google will create audiences and predictive behavior models for them.

  8. Elapsed time and time measurement

    With Google Analytics 4, you can measure the time between interactions. You will be able to build any funnel you want and see the exact time it takes for a user to go through it. What’s more, you can measure how long it takes a visitor to buy from you and what factors impact their decisions.

  9. Improved debugging

    This new feature allows you to send all of your test data to one report specifically for debugging. It makes the process easier because you can see the data streams in order, click on any data to check whether the metadata is correct, and quickly identify and resolve problems.

  10. Advanced AI algorithms

    GA4 can detect changes in trends related to your offerings and automatically alert you. Another significant advantage is Google BigQuery. It’s a data warehouse that helps businesses gain real-time insights from data. With Google Analytics 4, you’ll be able to access this tool without paying extra fees.

Further reading: How to Connect and Export Data from GA4 to BigQuery?

Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics: Comparing Metrics

Before migrating to Google Analytics 4, ensure you know all the changes and updates. In this section, we’ll show you which metrics are comparable between GA4 and Universal Analytics based on Google’s support.

GA4 vs. UA Metrics Comparison

Download the Comparison Table

Why Switch to Google Analytics 4 Today?

Migrating to Google Analytics 4 can be challenging, especially for large brands. But fortunately, like with many efforts, there will be a lot of rewards. Here’re some benefits associated with migration to GA4:

  1. First and foremost, Universal Analytics is no longer supported or updated; in contrast, Google Analytics 4 is updated regularly and receives new fantastic features every month
  2. The current data history will be lost when UA disappears, so you need to generate a data history under the new model as soon as possible; otherwise, you’ll have to start from the ground up
  3. Google Analytics 4 is much more a business-oriented and marketing tool; the shift from sessions to events is more about insights that focus on “how my digital presence is bringing business” rather than on “what is the user doing on my website”
  4. Migration to Google Analytics 4 is a timely matter: brands that switch the first will gain a more competitive advantage; also, adoption requires some time for learning, so you can plan with the appropriate timeframes
  5. It’s better than Google Analytics and other analytics tools mainly because of the unique features we’ve already described

As you can see, it’s hard to argue that everybody should migrate to Google Analytics 4 now. By setting up GA4 today, you’ll reap all the benefits of the new system and have time to get comfortable with the new interface and functionality.

How to Migrate to Google Analytics 4?

The answer is simple: you must ensure that you follow best practices and implement the necessary steps to make a successful transition. Here’re a few steps for a smooth transition:

  1. Step 1. Create a New Property in your GA4 Account

    The first step in migrating from UA to GA4 is creating a new property in your GA4 account. To do this, log into your Google Analytics account and click on “Admin” in the left sidebar menu. Then select “Create Property” and “Google Analytics 4” from the list of available options.

  2. New property in GA4

    Create property in GA4

  3. Step 2. Install the Tracking Code for Your New Property

    Once you’ve created a new property, you’ll need to install its tracking code onto your website so that it can collect data about visitors and their interactions with your site. To install the tracking code, copy it from your GA4 account and paste it into every page of your website, either directly in the code or via a tag management system like Google Tag Manager.

  4. Step 3. Link Your UA Property to Your GA4 Property

    The next step is linking your existing UA property with your newly created GA4 property. This will allow you to access data from both properties within one account and make it easier to compare analytics between them. To link these properties, go back to Admin > Property Settings > Linked Accounts > Universal Analytics Properties and select which UA properties you’d like linked with this particular GA4 property.

  5. Property settings GA4

  6. Step 4. Set Up Custom Dimensions & Metrics

    In addition to linking properties; you’ll also want to set up custom dimensions and metrics for each property so that they match up with one another for easier comparison between analytics data sets. This can be done by going into Admin > Custom Definitions > Custom Dimensions/Metrics and selecting which dimensions/metrics you’d like associated with each particular property type (GA4 or UA).

  7. Custom dimensions & metrics GA4

  8. Step 5. Start Collecting Data

    Now that everything has been properly set up, all that’s left is collecting data! You should begin seeing analytics data rolling in soon after installing your tracking codes as long as they have been installed properly across all pages on your website. Depending on how much traffic comes through your site each day, it may take up to 24 hours before any meaningful data appears, so be patient!

Congrats! The migration process is completed. However, if it still seems there’s a lot to digest, we are ready to help. At Viden, we have a dedicated analytics team that provides consultation and assists you with seamless migration.

Get in touch now to see how we can help you assess readiness and migrate to GA4.

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