GA4 is bad! I don’t like GA4

GA4 is bad. I don't like GA4.  If you have heard that or felt that then you are not alone.  This is a sentiment that many long-time users of Google Analytics share.

Why is GA4 Bad?

Long-time users of Google Analytics are accustomed to using the old interface, reports, and metrics.  Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has completely changed its structure. It has changed the reports and metrics that we have been using for years. It has changed the way we implement it.

Humans are designed to resist change. Amygdala. the part of the brain that helps regulate emotion and encode memories, interprets change as a threat, and releases the hormones for fear, fight, or flight. So we are all just being human by viewing GA4 as bad.

Is GA4 Really Bad?

Well till you get comfortable with it you will likely resent it. However, having used it from the day it was announced, I can assure you that it presents a great opportunity for your to take your insight to the next level and really take data-driven actions.  In this post, I am going to highlight the changes in GA4 and how they can help you. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will look at GA4 with a different lens.  If you are feeling overwhelmed with this change, then don't worry, we can help you navigate it effectively.

What's Different and New in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

GA4 has a different Data Model

GA4 has many more event parameters than 4 predefined one is Universal Analytics

GA4 does not have any concept of Views

GA4 allows Web & App reporting in one interface

GA4 allows you to track the cross-device user journey

GA4 uses machine learning to fill gaps left by a lack of cookies or data deletions

GA4 has fewer pre-defined reports

GA4 has better custom reports/analysis tool called exploration

GA4 introduced new metrics and took away some

GA4 allows you to send the data to bigquery


What Makes GA4 better than Univeral Analytics?

Different Data Models in GA4

The GA4 data model is simpler and more flexible. There are two central entities, User and Events. You can attach multiple properties to these two to dig deeper into the data.

GA4 has many more event parameters than 4 predefined one is Universal Analytics

In Univeral Analytics we had Category, Action, Lable, and Value as event parameters. This limited the tracking options. But now you can enrich your event tracking with 35 parameters.  Imagine the depth of insights with so many parameters.

GA4 does not have any concepts of views

No more views and this is a tough one because GA evangelized and promoted the use of view. Specifically keeping one view with no filters and the other one with filters that made sense for the business.  Now that's gone.  Will the view come back? Who knows but for now you can either create multiple properties or use Segments, Comparisons, and Audiences to get the data/reports that you need.

Google Analytics 4 combines Web and App Reporting

GA4 provides both Web and App reporting within one single interface. You get to see the complete use journey as the user moves from one platform to another.

GA4 allows you to track the cross-device user journey

GA4 is developed to track the complete user journey. As mentioned above it tracks the cross-platform journey of the users which allows all the data about the user to be collected to provide a complete view. This data then translates into the reports that are aligned to the user journey e.g. Acquisition, Engagement, Conversion/Monetization, and Retention.

AI & ML to counter cookie blocking and deletion

Cookie blocking, local privacy laws, user data deletion requests,s, etc. result in missing data. To counter the missing cookies and data, GA4 uses Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to fill the gaps and provide you with the complete picture.

GA4 has fewer pre-defined reports

Universal Analytics had more pre-defined reports than GA4.  This is the part most people are upset about.  However, I think some of those reports might be gone forever but likely many of them will come back.  For now, if your business relied on those reports then you do have to figure out a new way of delivering that report. Don't worry many of them can be recreated using Exploration (see next point) or in Google Data Studio. However, this also ensures that you have to think about which reports you really need rather than trying to use what's available.

GA4 has better custom reports/analysis tool called exploration

Exploration ins GA allows you to drill deeper into the data and hence find insights that were not possible with Univeral Analytics. This is a game-changer for Digital Data Analysis.  I love this feature. I highly recommend that you start using this feature to see GA4's real power. I expect this feature to become better with time.

GA4 allows you to send the data to bigquery

In past, you had to use a 3rd part too like Supermetrics to transfer data from Google Analytics to BigQuery but that's not the case for GA4. GA has built-in integration with BigQuery and with just a few clicks you can set it up. Check out this post, How to Connect GA4 to BigQuery.

So why send data to BigQuery?  Having data in a database allows you to merge it with your CRM data, 3rd party data, etc. to enrich your behavioral and web data collected via GA4. Having all data in one place means you can not only segment based on behavioral data but with the other data as well. For example, you can find out who your local customers are and what they do on the site so that you can create a better experience. All this cross-data analysis was not possible in Univeral Analytics.

GA4 has many more event parameters than 4 predefined one is Universal Analytics

GA4 is the future

Universal Analytics is going away and GA4 is the future. I don't think GA4. I love GA4. Sure it seems like it was released a bit prematurely but that's the state of tools these days. They are always released as beta products and get better with time.

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