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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Levin

GA4: The Next Generation of Web Analytics

Updated: Jun 30, 2023



In the world of digital marketing, data is king. And one of the most powerful tools for collecting and analyzing data is Google Analytics. For years, businesses of all sizes have relied on Google Analytics to measure website traffic, track user behavior, and gain insights into how their online presence is performing. But with the recent launch of Google Analytics 4, or GA4, there are some changes that users need to be aware of. In this article, we'll explore what GA4 is, what it means for your business, and how you can make the most of this new platform.


What is GA4?


GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics. It was released in October 2020 as the successor to Universal Analytics, which has been the standard version of Google Analytics for over a decade. GA4 is designed to provide businesses with a more holistic view of their digital presence by tracking user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, including mobile apps, websites, and other digital channels.


One of the most significant changes in GA4 is its use of machine learning to provide more accurate and actionable insights. With Universal Analytics, users had to set up specific goals and events to track user behavior, and then manually analyze the data to draw insights. With GA4, machine learning algorithms can automatically identify patterns and anomalies in user behavior, making it easier for businesses to understand how users are interacting with their digital properties.


Another key feature of GA4 is its focus on privacy. As concerns around data privacy continue to grow, GA4 is designed to provide users with more control over their data. It uses a new measurement model that relies less on cookies and more on user IDs, which allows businesses to track user behavior across multiple devices and sessions while still maintaining user privacy.


What are the benefits of GA4?


There are several benefits to using GA4 for your business. Here are just a few:

  1. More comprehensive data: GA4 tracks user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, giving businesses a more complete picture of how users are interacting with their digital presence.

  2. More accurate insights: GA4 uses machine learning algorithms to automatically identify patterns and anomalies in user behavior, making it easier for businesses to understand how users are interacting with their digital properties.

  3. Better privacy: GA4's new measurement model relies less on cookies and more on user IDs, which allows businesses to track user behavior across multiple devices and sessions while still maintaining user privacy.

  4. Enhanced ecommerce tracking: GA4's enhanced ecommerce tracking features make it easier for businesses to track and analyze ecommerce transactions, including revenue and product performance.

What are the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics?


While GA4 is the successor to Universal Analytics, there are several key differences between the two platforms. Here are a few:

  1. Tracking code: The tracking code used in GA4 is different from the tracking code used in Universal Analytics. This means that businesses will need to update their tracking code if they want to switch to GA4.

  2. Data collection: GA4 uses a new measurement model that relies less on cookies and more on user IDs, which allows businesses to track user behavior across multiple devices and sessions while still maintaining user privacy. Universal Analytics relies heavily on cookies to track user behavior.

  3. Event tracking: With Universal Analytics, users had to set up specific goals and events to track user behavior. Generally speaking, Universal Analytics was a “session-based” platform, which means that by default, it captured lots of data about the session, such as duration, page views per session, bounce rate, and so on. It also captured events, but they weren’t the main focus. In GA4, events take center stage. Everything a user does – a scroll, a click, a form submission – even the visit itself – is classified under a complex system of event parameters. Understanding this shift is critical to understanding how to properly use GA4.

  4. Reporting: GA4 has a new user interface and reporting dashboard, which can take some getting used to. The standard reports you’re used to from GA3 is long gone. Instead, many in-depth reports you need will be your responsibility to create from scratch in GA4’s Explore tab.

That’s a quick look into what’s different with GA4. If you’re interested in making the leap, make sure to check out our next article, ‘Migrating to GA4’.


If you're ready to take your analytics to the next level with GA4, contact CMCollective today. Our team is ready to help you get started.



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