GA4; embracing and understanding the change

GA4 is here to stay! So what’s changed about how key metrics are reported?

Google has just launched its latest version of Google Analytics, known as GA4, which is now the primary tool for measuring and reporting website traffic. Effective July 1st, 2023, this update has changed the way we track and analyze online data.

In case you missed the memo, don’t worry—I’ve got you covered! If you’re eager to learn how to easily set up Google Analytics 4 using a step-by-step guide, I published an article last year specifically for that purpose. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to keep their finger on the pulse of their website’s performance.

Essentially, your old Google Analytics Universal Analytics (UA) installation will have stopped collecting new data, requiring the installation of GA4 in order to continue monitoring your website traffic.

If you were proactive enough to migrate to GA4 prior to the transition, you may be wondering what sets it apart from its predecessor. We’re here to shed light on the matter and help you understand some of the key differences between these two distinct data models, ultimately impacting your data analysis and reporting.

Unlocking the Differences

Let’s dive into the heart of the matter—how UA (Universal Analytics) and GA4 differ in terms of the data they collect. While UA revolves around sessions and pageviews, GA4 takes a different approach, centering its attention on events and parameters.

1. Data Collection Model

UA uses a session-based data model. It tracks user interactions within a single session (visit), and attributes them to a cookie. Each session has an associated duration, and all pageviews and events are linked to that session. GA4 uses an event-based data model, focusing on individual events rather than sessions. Each user interaction – such as a pageview, a click, or a scroll – is recorded as a seperate event. These events are then tied together using a unique User ID.

2. Privacy

UA features only limited built-in functionality for managing user privacy, such as data retention period settings, IP anonymisation, and tracking opt-outs.
GA4 has much more robust privacy functionality, including automatic implementation of features such as user tracking consent, data deletion and retention, as well as the flexibility to adhere to privacy regulations across multiple countries. 

3. Machine-Learning Capabilities

GA4 features advanced machine-learning capabilities that were missing from UA, such as automated insights, predictive analytics, and audience modeling, allowing for deeper and more actionable insights.

Embracing GA4

While change can be scary – especially when your valuable business data is at stake – there are plenty of reasons to embrace the change to GA4. The event-based data model provides much more flexible, insightful reporting than the session-based model of UA, improving your data-driven decision making while also future-proofing your data collection.

Need help making the switch? No worries! if you’re already a MyWork Customer, GA4 setup is included for free on our MyWork Complete service. If you’re not already working with us, just give us a call today on 1300 809 424 and let us know how we can help!