Looking with considerable fear at the imminent end of the Universal Analytics era, probably many marketers will spend the next few months absorbing knowledge in the scope of Google Analytics 4. Just like everyone else, I am also in the process – so I invite you to join me on the journey of switching from GA to the latest GA4 version. Today I will cover the most urgent topic, i.e. parallel account configuration. Here we go!

Do I need a new version of Google Analytics 4?

Definitely yes and you should have had it since last year! Google announced the phasing out of the current version of Universal Analytics in July 2023, which means there is very little time left to adapt to the new reality.

What are the reasons to switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4?

  1. Changing consumer behaviour – users have now connected to the network anytime, anywhere and value flexibility and a sense of choice. Exactly the same way your analytics should work, make sure to accompany the user at every touchpoint with the brand.
  2. Cross-device – in the new version of the tool, to a much more precise degree, we are able to connect the same user using many different devices, all thanks to Google Signals.
  3. Mobile first is a thing of the past – every year has been proclaimed the year of mobile-first, I’ll go a step further and say that this is definitely the year of app-first. This is because the new version of GA4 allows tracking and web page and accurate measurement from Android/IOS mobile apps.
  4. Privacy – essentially one of the leading reasons Google had to adapt, and at an express pace. That’s how the whole idea of Consent Mode came about, which gives users the ability to decide which cookies they want to accept, or they can reject any that are non-essential. In GA4, this group of users will be visible as unassigned.

Comparing GA4 vs UA

  • users
  • pageviews

Universal Analytics tracks screenviews in separate mobile-specific properties, whereas GA4 combines both web and app data in the same property.

If you are tracking both web and app data in your GA4 property, be sure to take the additional app traffic into consideration when comparing pageview metrics between the two. 

Source: Support Google Analytics
  • purchase
  • sessions
  • traffic
  • conversions
  • bounce rate
  • event

Parallel tracking in two versions

Until the final withdrawal from Universal Analytics, we have the option to configure both versions in parallel. Just go to Administration -> Service -> GA4 Configuration Assistant.

What to keep in mind – the data in GA4 will not be historically copied from the UA version. Using the GA4 assistant, simply check the “Enable data collection using existing tags” option and then a new site will be created with the basic data filled in (name, url, currency, time zone). The data should appear up to 30 minutes after setup.

GA4 setup

Significantly, the different platform types differ minimally in configuration. This is usually due to the specifics of the new version, which combines data streams from various sources together.

  1. CMS system – some systems do not support the new version of the tag, hence additional measures are required. Currently, the GA4 tag is not supported by such websites as Magento, Presta, and Shopify. It remains to implement the appropriate HTML fragment in the code. Detailed GA4 configurations for CMS.
  2. Site – for sites, the process of implementing the tag is exactly the same as the previous version. The only difference is the marking of G- before the ID number.
  3. App – from within Firebase you can link your account to GA4. We add a data stream with Android and IOS split separately, thus in one view will be data from all sources.

Differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4

  • tracking identifier – the current tracking code starts with “UA-“, in the newer version it is abbreviated “G-“
  • view – there are no more views, there is only an account and property
  • events – goals are replaced by event type
  • user – definition changes to “active user”, and the exact equivalent of the user metric from the UA version has become the session
  • data stream – the ability to link your account to the web and app
  • predictions – the new version of Analytics is based on advanced predictive models, thanks to which the system tries to estimate from the data the effectiveness of the entire site

Summary

GA4 is the near future, and it’s already starting to make its way into the analytics world. The sooner we get to grips with using and analyzing data with this new version, the more understandable and useful it will become. In this article, I covered the basics of configuring GA4.

More articles on this topic will appear on a regular basis. I also encourage you to share this post on your Linkedin channel, for which I will be extremely grateful.

Looking forward to reading it next time!

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