What Makes Google Analytics 4 Different From Universal Analytics?

by | Content Marketing, SEO

What Makes Google Analytics 4 Different From Universal Analytics

If you do any kind of marketing or advertising online, you’ve probably used Google Analytics to measure and track campaign performance. It’s been a go-to platform for marketers for years.

While most people refer to it as Google Analytics, the interface used up until 2020 was known as Universal Analytics. That’s changed. In March 2022, Google announced Google Analytics 4 would be the analytics solution, with Universal Analytics no longer supported in 2023. The change took place this month. As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics is no longer processing data, and access to the interface will officially sunset on July 1, 2024.

What does this mean for you?

What Is Universal Analytics?

Analytics are important to online marketers to determine how well their marketing efforts work. Google Analytics launched in 2005 as a web analytics service to track and report website traffic and help marketers make better decisions about where they put their money and spend their time. Over the years, the platform has morphed and changed as technology increased.

Launched in 2012, Universal Analytics was a version of Google Analytics that offered new standards in collecting and presenting data. It offered new tracking codes to include on websites, which increased accuracy and made getting to know your visitors and clients even easier.

What Is Google Analytics 4?

In October 2020, Google introduced its latest version of analytics known as Google Analytics 4, also known as GA4. This version is considerably different from past versions.

GA4 isn’t built to measure website visits or sessions. Instead, it’s designed to measure website and mobile interactions, also known as events. This gives marketers a better idea of what visitors want as it provides data on what actions people take, not just the sites and pages they visit. This is a significant change that will help you build and design based on what people do, not just the pages they visit. It enhances the ability to track actions and provides you with a clearer picture you can use to predict user behavior.

What Sets GA4 Apart From Universal Analytics

One of the key reasons Google has moved to GA4 is the integration of mobile. It has changed the way people search. GA4 takes that into account. It also utilizes current technology more efficiently than Universal Analytics could. With Google Analytics 4:

  • It uses machine learning to provide more insight into data collected. This means you can further refine your marketing and sales strategies.
  • It provides a deeper look at the complete life cycle of a customer. You can see transitions across devices, such as desktops or smart phones.
  • It uses current technology. No more worrying about cookies or identities. You’ll learn insights without previously blocked and neglected technology. It’s the most effective technology possible.

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Cookieless Marketing

It’s worth mentioning that future marketing will be cookieless. Google Analytics works by establishing cookies on a visitor’s browser whenever they visit a website. These cookies allow the website to “remember” information from a user session and be able to use that in different ways. It could be as simple as “this user has been here before” or more complex, such as remembering how a user interacted with the site.

Cookies have been widely used online for years. But there has been a lot of backlash because of the risk cookies present to privacy. They allow data to be shared with third parties.

As we continue to tighten up our security standards, cookies will no longer be considered the standard way of collecting data. Google blocks cookies from search results, so marketers look for other ways to build experiences for visitors online. GA4 is designed to meet those demands and will be built using machine learning in the future.

How To Use GA4

Google Analytics 4 significantly updates old technology and provides even more data for making sound business decisions. GA4 is a better analytics tool because:

It Provides Smarter Insights

GA4 is now capable of machine learning, which means it can analyze and predict future data based on customer trends and actions. It’s capable of predicting the future actions visitors and customers may make based on projections and analysis. Over time, these data sets will get even more sophisticated, helping you project traffic and earnings from defined groups of customers. This will help you create more custom audiences that you can speak to on a deeper level.

Google Ad Integration Will Run Wider

Not only will you be able to use these features across Google’s marketing products, but it will also allow you to dive deeper into creating audiences outside of the standard Google realm. You can sort by app and web-based strategies and use Google and non-Google paid channels, YouTube video, social media, and email.

It Allows More Flexibility

Great marketers love to test, be flexible, try new things, and test again. GA4 will offer more flexibility in the way you manage and use data. You can choose.

Final Thoughts

Nobody likes change. When you’re used to one way of reporting, a new system can be intimidating. Yet with GA4, it’s an entirely new way of building your data for better user experiences.

Privacy is a major concern, and we are adjusting our marketing strategies for a more secure world. GA4 allows us to continue to grow as marketers while respecting the privacy rights of everyone online at the same time.

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