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All you need to know about Upgrading Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Updated: Mar 20, 2023


Upgrading Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

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What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?


Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of the web analytics tool offered by Google. It was officially launched in October 2020 and is designed to provide businesses with more detailed and actionable insights into their customers' behavior across different devices and platforms.


GA4 uses an event-based data model, which allows businesses to track user interactions such as clicks, page views, and video plays across their website, mobile apps, and other digital channels. It also includes advanced features like predictive metrics, machine learning-powered insights, and cross-device tracking.


Compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics, GA4 offers several key improvements, including:

  1. More accurate data collection across different devices and platforms

  2. Deeper integration with Google Ads and other Google Marketing Platform products

  3. Enhanced privacy controls and compliance with data protection regulations

  4. Improved reporting and visualization capabilities.


Overall, GA4 provides businesses with a more comprehensive and holistic view of their customers' behavior, enabling them to make better-informed decisions and optimize their marketing strategies for maximum impact.


Be aware that on July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data. Therefore we strongly encourage you to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible.



What is the difference between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 / GA4?


Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, released in 2020. While it builds on the foundation of Universal Analytics (UA), there are some significant differences between the two:


  1. Data Model: GA4 uses a new data model that focuses on events, rather than sessions and pageviews, as in UA. GA4's data model is more flexible, allowing for easier customization and analysis of user behavior across multiple platforms and devices.

  2. User Interface: The user interface in GA4 has been redesigned to be more intuitive and user-friendly. It also features new reports, such as the Engagement and Monetization reports, which provide deeper insights into user behavior and revenue generation.

  3. Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 provides more seamless tracking of user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, including mobile apps and web. This allows for a more comprehensive view of the user journey and helps marketers to better understand how users interact with their brand.

  4. Machine Learning: GA4 incorporates more advanced machine learning capabilities to provide insights and recommendations based on user behavior. This includes predictive metrics, such as the probability of a user making a purchase, as well as automated insights that highlight important trends and anomalies in the data.

  5. Privacy Controls: With increasing concerns over user privacy, GA4 provides more granular control over data collection and processing. This includes the ability to disable data collection for specific events or users, as well as a new Consent mode that helps to ensure compliance with privacy regulations.


Overall, GA4 represents a significant upgrade over UA, with more advanced features and a more modern architecture that better reflects the needs of today's digital marketers. However, it also requires a different approach to data collection and analysis, and may take some time for users to adjust to the new interface and data model.


Why does Google switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 / GA4?


There are several reasons why Google has introduced GA4 as a replacement for Universal Analytics:


  1. Changes in consumer behavior: As more and more users switch to mobile devices and interact with businesses through multiple channels, it has become increasingly difficult to track and analyze user behavior using traditional web analytics tools. GA4's event-based data model is designed to provide a more accurate and comprehensive view of user behavior across different devices and platforms.

  2. Improved privacy controls: With the introduction of regulations like GDPR and CCPA, there is an increasing focus on data privacy and protection. GA4 includes enhanced privacy controls and is designed to be more compliant with these regulations.

  3. Advancements in machine learning: GA4 leverages Google's machine learning capabilities to provide businesses with more advanced insights and predictive metrics, making it easier for them to optimize their marketing strategies and improve user engagement.

  4. Integration with Google Marketing Platform: GA4 is designed to integrate more seamlessly with other Google Marketing Platform products, such as Google Ads and Data Studio, providing businesses with a more comprehensive and holistic view of their marketing performance.


Why GA4? The advantages of Google Analytics 4


Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers several key advantages over its predecessor, Universal Analytics. Here are some of the main benefits of GA4:


  1. Event-based data model: GA4's event-based data model is designed to provide a more comprehensive and accurate view of user behavior across different devices and platforms. It tracks user interactions such as clicks, page views, and video plays, allowing businesses to gain a deeper understanding of how users engage with their digital assets.

  2. Cross-device tracking: GA4 provides better cross-device tracking capabilities by using a user-centric approach that allows businesses to track user behavior across multiple devices and platforms. This enables businesses to gain insights into user behavior across the entire customer journey, rather than just a single touchpoint.

  3. Advanced reporting and insights: GA4 includes several advanced reporting features, such as predictive metrics, machine learning-powered insights, and a focus on user engagement and retention. These features enable businesses to make more informed decisions about their marketing strategies and improve user engagement and retention.

  4. Enhanced privacy controls: With the introduction of regulations like GDPR and CCPA, there is an increasing focus on data privacy and protection. GA4 includes enhanced privacy controls and is designed to be more compliant with these regulations, providing businesses with greater peace of mind when it comes to data protection.

  5. Deeper integration with Google Marketing Platform: GA4 is designed to integrate more seamlessly with other Google Marketing Platform products, such as Google Ads and Data Studio, providing businesses with a more comprehensive and holistic view of their marketing performance. This makes it easier for businesses to optimize their marketing strategies and improve their overall ROI.


Overall, GA4 provides businesses with a more comprehensive and advanced web analytics tool, enabling them to gain deeper insights into user behavior and make better-informed decisions about their marketing strategies.



GA4 Migration: How to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4


If you already have a Google Analytics (GA) / Universal Analytics (UA) account


If you are already using Google Analytics, you can set up Google Analytics 4 (GA4) alongside your existing implementation and gradually migrate to the new tool over time. Here are the steps to get started:


  1. Create a new GA4 property: Go to your Google Analytics account and create a new GA4 property. This will allow you to start collecting data in GA4 alongside your existing implementation.

  2. Install the GA4 tracking code: Once you have created your GA4 property, you will need to install the GA4 tracking code on your website. This code is different from the Universal Analytics tracking code, so you will need to follow the instructions provided by Google to set it up correctly.

  3. Configure data streams: In GA4, data streams are used to collect data from different sources, such as your website or mobile app. You will need to set up data streams for each of your digital assets to ensure that you are collecting all the data you need.

  4. Set up conversions: GA4 uses a different approach to conversions compared to Universal Analytics, so you will need to set up your conversion events in GA4 using the event-based data model.

  5. Start analyzing data: Once you have set up your GA4 property and data streams, you can start analyzing your data using the GA4 interface. Keep in mind that GA4 has a different data model and reporting interface compared to Universal Analytics, so it may take some time to get used to the new tool.

  6. Migrate over time: You don't need to switch to GA4 completely right away. You can gradually migrate your data and reporting to GA4 over time, while still using Universal Analytics for your existing repors and data. This will allow you to get used to the new tool and ensure that you are collecting all the data you need.


Overall, switching from Google Analytics to Google Analytics 4 requires some setup and configuration, but it can be done gradually over time. By following these steps, you can start collecting data in GA4 and gain access to its advanced features and capabilities.


If you do not have a Google Analytics 4 / GA4 account yet


To set up Google Analytics 4 (GA4) from scratch, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Google Analytics account by going to analytics.google.com and signing up for a free account.

  2. Create a new GA4 property: Once you are logged in to your Google Analytics account, click on the "Admin" tab and select "Create Property" from the dropdown menu. Choose "Web" or "App" as your platform, depending on what you want to track.

  3. Configure your property settings: In the next screen, you will need to configure the settings for your GA4 property. This includes setting a name for your property, selecting your industry category and time zone, and enabling any additional features you want to use.

  4. Set up data streams: In GA4, data streams are used to collect data from different sources, such as your website or mobile app. You will need to set up data streams for each of your digital assets to ensure that you are collecting all the data you need. To do this, go to the "Data Streams" tab in your GA4 property and click on "Add Data Stream". Follow the instructions provided by Google to set up your data stream.

  5. Install the GA4 tracking code: Once you have set up your data streams, you will need to install the GA4 tracking code on your website or mobile app. This code is different from the Universal Analytics tracking code, so you will need to follow the instructions provided by Google to set it up correctly.

  6. Set up conversions: In GA4, conversions are tracked using events rather than goals. You will need to set up your conversion events in GA4 using the event-based data model. To do this, go to the "Events" tab in your GA4 property and click on "Create Event". Follow the instructions provided by Google to set up your conversion events.

  7. Start analyzing data: Once you have set up your GA4 property and data streams, you can start analyzing your data using the GA4 interface. Keep in mind that GA4 has a different data model and reporting interface compared to Universal Analytics, so it may take some time to get used to the new tool.


Overall, setting up Google Analytics 4 from scratch requires some setup and configuration, but it can be done by following these steps. By setting up data streams, installing the tracking code, and configuring your conversion events, you can start collecting data in GA4 and gain access to its advanced features and capabilities.


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