GA4 Updates & Transitioning from Universal Analytics

Digital Amplification
May 10, 2023
Two hands typing on a keyboard while the screen displays a Google Analytics dashboard.
Digital Amplification
May 10, 2023

How the Latest Google Analytics Update Provides a More Complete View of User Behavior

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a game-changing update for website owners and marketers. This new version of Google’s analytics platform is designed to provide a more holistic view of user behavior across multiple platforms and devices. GA4 replaces Universal Analytics (UA), which has been the standard for website analytics since 2012. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key features of GA4 and what you need to know about the transition from UA to GA4.

Event-Based Data Collection

The GA4 update is a significant departure from UA in terms of how data is collected, processed, and analyzed. The traditional pageview-based model of data collection works by tracking every time a user loads a new page on a website. While this model is useful for understanding how users move through a website, it can miss valuable information about how users interact with specific elements on a page. For example, it cannot track how long a user watches a video or how many times they click on a button. In contrast, event-based data collection works by tracking specific user interactions on a website. Events are actions that users take on a website. Events can include anything from clicks on a button, form submissions, video plays, and more.

With GA4, you can track events across different platforms and devices, which is crucial in today’s multi-device and multi-channel world. This means that you can get a better understanding of how users interact with your website and what drives conversions.

Machine Learning & Predicitve Analytics

“Google Analytics 4’s emphasis on machine learning and predictive analytics will enable businesses to identify trends and patterns in user behavior and take action to improve user engagement and conversion rates. This represents a major improvement over previous versions of the tool and has the potential to revolutionize how businesses approach website optimization.” – Oli Gardner

GA4’s machine learning capabilities are built into the platform’s data processing and reporting functions. This means that businesses can benefit from machine learning without having to invest in additional tools or expertise.

One way that GA4 uses machine learning is through its predictive metrics. Predictive metrics are machine learning-powered metrics that use historical data to predict future outcomes. For example, GA4’s predictive metrics can analyze a user’s behavior on a website and predict the likelihood of that user converting. This can help businesses identify high-value users and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. GA4 uses machine learning through its automated insights feature. Automated insights are machine learning-powered insights that highlight important trends and patterns in user behavior. For example, GA4’s automated insights can identify which pages on a website are driving the most traffic and which pages are causing users to bounce. This can help businesses optimize their website and improve user engagement.

GA4’s machine learning capabilities enable the platform to identify anomalies in data. Anomalies are unexpected changes in data that may indicate a problem or opportunity. For example, if GA4 detects a sudden drop in website traffic, it may alert businesses to a potential issue with their website or marketing campaigns. Similarly, if GA4 detects a sudden increase in website traffic, it may indicate a new opportunity to engage with users.

Multi-Platform & Cross-Device Tracking

One of the key benefits of GA4 is the ability to integrate with other Google products. GA4 offers improved integration with other Google products, such as Google Ads and Google Search Console. This integration enables businesses to track user behavior across different channels and platforms, including mobile apps, social media, and email marketing campaigns. With multi-platform and cross-device tracking, businesses can get a more complete picture of their customers’ behavior and engagement across their online presence.

Customizable Reports & Dashboards

GA4 offers improved customization options for reports and dashboards, allowing businesses to tailor their analytics to their specific needs. Businesses can create custom metrics, dimensions, and segments that are relevant to their business goals. Additionally, businesses can create custom reports and dashboards that provide a more intuitive view of their website analytics.

Customizable reports and dashboards are tools that allow businesses to create their own reports and visualizations based on their specific needs and goals. In GA4, businesses can create custom reports and dashboards using a variety of data sources and visualization tools, including charts, graphs, and tables. These reports and dashboards can enable businesses to focus on the metrics that are most relevant to their goals. For example, if a business is focused on increasing website conversions, they can create a custom dashboard that displays conversion rate data for specific pages or campaigns.

Improved User Policy

“Google Analytics 4’s updated user policy places a greater emphasis on user privacy and data protection, which is a positive step for both businesses and their users. By providing users with greater control over their data, businesses can build trust with their audience and improve user engagement and conversion rates.” – Michael Loban

With increasing concerns about data privacy, GA4 offers features that prioritize user privacy and consent. For instance, businesses can enable user consent for data collection and ensure that the data collected is compliant with the latest data privacy regulations. 

For businesses, the updated user policy has several implications. Here are a few key ways that businesses may be impacted:

Greater Emphasis On User Content

Under the updated user policy, businesses must obtain explicit user consent for data collection and processing. This means that businesses must provide users with clear and concise information about what data is being collected and why. Businesses must also obtain consent for each specific use of data, rather than obtaining blanket consent.

Increased Transparency 

The updated user policy places a greater emphasis on data transparency. Businesses must provide users with clear information about what data is being collected, how it is being used, and who it is being shared with. Businesses must also provide users with the ability to access their data and request its deletion.

More Control For Users

This gives users more control over their data. Users must be given the ability to opt out of data collection and processing, and must be given the ability to access and delete their data. Businesses must also provide users with clear information about how to exercise their data rights.

Impacts On Data Analysis

This new policy may impact how businesses analyze data. With greater emphasis on user consent and control, businesses may need to adjust their data collection and analysis practices to comply with the updated policy. This could impact the accuracy and completeness of data analysis.

Transitioning from Universal Analytics

It’s important to note that GA4 is a completely new platform, so you can’t just upgrade your existing UA account to GA4. Instead, you’ll need to set up a new GA4 property and start collecting data from scratch. However, you can run both UA and GA4 simultaneously, so you can compare data and gradually transition to GA4. 

The data model in GA4 is different from UA, so you’ll need to update your tracking code and data collection strategy. This means that you may need to work with a developer to implement the necessary changes.

Some features that were available in UA may not be available in GA4. For example, the User Explorer report, which allowed you to view individual user behavior, is not currently available in GA4. However, Google is continually adding new features and functionality to GA4, so it’s worth keeping an eye on updates.

It’s also important to note that GA4 is still in the early stages of adoption, so there may be some limitations and issues that haven’t yet been identified. However, Google is actively encouraging feedback from users, and they are committed to improving the platform based on user feedback.

The GA4 update is a significant change for website owners and marketers, but it offers many benefits in terms of providing a more complete view of user behavior and integrating with other Google products. While the transition from UA to GA4 may require some extra work, it’s worth the effort to take advantage of the new capabilities that GA4 offers. As with any new technology, there may be some challenges and limitations, but overall, GA4 is a significant step forward in website analytics.


An AI writer drafted this article, it was fact-checked and curated by Digital Amplification’s team of marketing experts. It’s written for marketers and business leaders looking for ways to improve the performance of their marketing investment.

People ask why an elite digital agency would share key insights about essential digital marketing techniques. The answer is simple, if you are reading this and it helps you become a more effective marketer…connect with us because we would love to get to know you. Likewise, if you see gaps in your marketing efforts and you need a partner that can move the business forward…contact us because we can deliver breakthrough results.

Reach Out!

We’d Love to Help!

Share This