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Why you should give Google Analytics 4 a chance

There is a lot of negativity when it comes to Google Analytics 4.I get it. It's a new product that looks, feels, and works differently than we're all

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There is a lot of negativity when it comes to Google Analytics 4.

I get it. It’s a new product that looks, feels, and works differently than we’re all used to at Universal Analytics.

And as many readers rightly suggest, it still lacks features. [Disclosure: I used to work for Google and helped build the foundations of Google Analytics 4]

All that said, I’m here to offer an unpopular opinion: GA4 is indeed a great tool. Not only that, it’s more flexible for the future (think privacy, cookies, and expanded data models).

Over the next several months, I’ll be writing articles that walk you into the ins and outs of key features, show you how to setup/analyze/customize, and much more.

But first, I wanted to address some of the bigger picture issues facing the GA4 today. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest complaints and counterpoints for why you should do everything in Google Analytics 4.


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Complaint 1: Universal Analytics is OK, don’t worry

the interview: In fact, Universal Analytics itself is more than 10 years old (released in 2012), built on the same code base as Classic Analytics (ga.js, circa 2007) and Urchin Analytics (urchin.js, Google acquisition before 2005) .

This program and product old or old. Most of the software you probably use has undergone major changes and updates over the years, and so should your analytics tool.

The truth is that Universal Analytics was not designed for the internet we have today. It will not work well with new privacy regulations, lost cookies, etc. We need a tool designed specifically for the internet of today and tomorrow.

Speaking of privacy, GA4 recently launched several new data controls and no longer stores IP data. This is great news.

Is this the answer to all our concerns about GDPR? No, maybe not. But it’s moving in the right direction and it’s clear that the GA team is working hard on this to build controls and solutions that will work within the law and help GA users continue to use Google Analytics as they see fit.

These new controls live under Administrator > Data Settings > Data Collection > Location Device data collection.

New location and device controls in GA4

Complaint 2: GA4 has a lot of missing features

the interview: GA4 is getting better every day. Is it perfect? No. But perfection is the enemy of the good, isn’t it?

Since its initial beta release in 2019, GA4 has continued to add and improve new features, and the pace of innovation has accelerated. Here are some of the things that have been launched in the past few months:

  • Sub-properties and assemblies (360 clients only)
  • GMP integration – now free for all customers
  • New UTMs – woo woo! More campaign parameters to add!
  • Landing Page Dimensions – yessss!
  • New privacy settings – more fine-grained controls
  • There is a long roadmap…

Searching at one point of particular interest to search engines: GA4 finally has a landing page dimension! Although there is no built-in landing page report, you can easily create one using the new customization features which we will cover in the next point.

Complaint 3: The new UI is awful, I can’t find anything there!

the interview: she do not like that? You can change it!

For the first time in the history of Google Analytics, you can not only modify the navigation on the left side, but also the reports themselves.

This is something digital analysts have been climbing into for years, and it’s something you can actually do in SiteCatalyst (back to what is now Adobe Analytics) since at least version 14, possibly earlier (for context, SiteCatalyst v14 was launched in 2009).

Here are some examples of what you can do with the user interface and report customizations:

  • Don’t like Report Graphics? Personally, I hate the scatter graph, so I’ve removed it in most of my reports.
  • Want to create a reporting suite on the go just for your marketing team so they have a quick and easy way to access important reports? You can do it.
  • Are some of the metrics or dimensions in the report not relevant to your business? You can remove them.
Editing a report
Custom report groups displaying ‘Krista Faves’ and ‘Marketing Team’

Complaint 4: I hate the new data model. Sessions should rule everything!

the interview: The new data model is really cool. Universal Analytics relied on session and this caused a lot of issues with data scalability and caused things like sampling in the user interface.

GA4 uses the event and parameter data model, similar to many other product analysis tools. In this model, everything is an event, even a pageview is an event. This data model provides greater flexibility and structure.

For example, an event in Universal Analytics was a unique set of three dimensions (category, action, and label). You may end up with hundreds or even thousands of these events, and if the implementation is done over time or by more than one person, it likely lacks consistency in the structure or hierarchy of the event data.

GA4 simplifies this data model into recommended and custom event names and parameters, and differentiates the same events by their collected values, allowing for a simpler and more structured implementation.

I asked a digital analytics expert Simo Ahava What he thinks about the new data model. He said:

“What I like the most is how the GA4 data model is open-ended, there is flexibility with the model that UA has never had,” Ahava said. “UA has always been disabled by obligatory semantics. Events king To be combined with category, action, label, and value. This resulted in a very static spreadsheet that suffered from technical debt and a sampling problem that worsened as the data collection process became more detailed.

“With GA4, you have the freedom to choose what you want to collect and how to collect it, and resetting the data model seems to make the platform faster, more scalable, and more responsive to queries,” Ahava added.

Google Analytics 4 is a radical change

We are all familiar with the current version of Google Analytics. I can’t guarantee that the transition will be completely smooth.

GA4 is a completely different tool that you should invest in and learn. But if When you do, I bet you will appreciate the new things you bring to the table and how they will help you expand in the future.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of the search engine. Staff authors are listed here.


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About the author

Krista Seiden is a Principal Digital Analytics Consultant and Principal Instructor at KS Digital, an analytics consulting firm she founded in 2019, helping companies get the most out of their digital marketing and analytics investments. Previously, Krista was Vice President of Product Marketing and Growth at Quantcast. Prior to that, I worked at Google for nearly 7 years, leading product management efforts across the Google Marketing platform and serving as an external missionary for the Google Analytics product suite. Krista is a keynote speaker, practitioner, and writer on Analytics and Optimization, and a passionate supporter of #WomenInAnalytics. You can learn more about Krista and KS Digital at KS Digital.

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