Company Announcements Digital Marketing Lead Generation

Universal Analytics to GA4


By this time, we have all likely heard the BIG news of Google moving, in 2023, from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, known better by its nickname GA4. As we increasingly live in a world of automation and machine learning, the way we measure digital traffic has changed. At the same time, privacy regulations are transforming tracking and redefining how data can be collected and reported. The GA4 property type is the next generation of Google Analytics to address these industry shifts. One primary feature in a GA4 vs Universal Analytics comparison is that GA4 can collect both website and app data for a business within a single Analytics profile. It’s also designed to follow the customer’s journey in all their touch points across devices and to measure site engagement via actions instead of per session.

Whereas your former Google Analytics account used to report any custom User ID data separately, GA4 integrates that custom data with the device ID and de-dupes the results to provide a more cross-device user journey. We have to change our mindsets in looking at metrics from Universal Analytics into GA4. Instead of grouping user actions into time and date-based Sessions, user interactions with your site will now be processed as standalone Events. Words like conversion “goals” will merge into event tracking. How analytics is processing the data will look quite different, and reporting will no longer be limited to pre-defined reports and segments. GA4 includes streamlined navigation and new areas like Explore which will allow a more freeform analysis of the data.

GTMA Is Preparing Now For the Switch to GA4 Data

Google Analytics 4 Old Logo to New Logo GIF

This summer of 2022 our Operations & Media Strategy teams got together and linked all of our client’s websites to new GA4 profiles. These are running side-by-side with your existing Universal Analytics account. The goal was to have at least one year of historical data collected BEFORE the BIG switch is mandated from Google’s Universal Analytics to GA4. As of now, the official transition to the GA4 standard is slated for July 1st, 2023. If Google adjusts the timeline, GTMA will be prepared!

As we’ve been collecting data, our Operations team has been problem-solving through any kinks in reporting and “event” tracking. Goodbye to “goals” and hello to conversion events! These are not your “old school” Universal Analytic events. GA4 is reporting any engagement with your site as an event. GA4 has automatic, recommended, and custom events. A large part of our summer project was to create custom events in GA4 so the most relevant site actions will still be included in client reporting. Our dashboard and reporting platform already integrates with GA4. Rest assured that after the switch, you’ll notice our reporting dashboard will still operate with the same look and feel that you are used to.

We want to help you on your journey through GA4 and understand your GA Account. Another way we can assist is to give you a brief overview of the new GA4 navigation which will help when you initially set up GA4. See this chart for comparison:

Google Universal Analytics vs GA4 Table Graphic

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We also want to help you learn the language of GA4 vs UA. You can see a list of keywords and definitions below.

Terms GA4 Users You Should Know

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Attribution Modeling

How you give credit to different traffic sources for a conversion on your website:

  • Data-driven
  • Cross-channel last click
  • Cross-channel first click
  • Cross-channel linear
  • Cross-channel position-based
  • Cross-channel time decay

Automatically Collected Events

GA4 is collecting their data from a list of automatically tracked events they’ve deemed worthy. Examples of these types of events include video plays, file downloads, and button clicks. Other custom events can still be built and used alongside the automatically generated ones.

Average Engagement Time

Moving away from “bounce rates” GA4’s analytics data is focused on a user’s time spent & engagement rate on site.

Data Stream

This defines itself really, this is the stream of data coming from your business property (web, mobile app, sales kiosk, etc.) to GA4.

Engaged Sessions

How the visitors are engaging with your site.

Here are the default sessions, but you can make these adjustments when you set up GA4:

  • It lasts longer than 10 seconds
  • It includes at least one conversion
  • It includes 2 or more page views

GA4 Event

Unlike the events in Universal Analytics, GA4 is saying any engagement with your site is now an event. Your GA4 property has automatic, recommended, and custom events based on a user’s engagement.

Identity Spaces

Groups of user identifiers that GA4 may use to dedupe data and report on a single user journey. GA4 uses these identity spaces in priority order:

  • User ID – Custom User IDs you may assign and persistently use for your returning, signed-in website visitors (such as customer usernames or order numbers).
  • Google Signals – Match results between your website users and signed-in Google account users who have consented to share information.
  • Device ID – User browser information for a website or app-instance ID for app users.

Modeled Conversions

GA4 uses a measurement model to predict online conversions and fill in the gaps in attribution without identifying individual users (due to user privacy, technical limitations, or when users move between devices). Modeling uses machine learning to predict attribution based on similar, observable behavior and conversions. For example, when measuring users’ engagement, GA4 may model conversions from a browser with privacy blocking based on another browser with observable conversion data. This blend of observed data where possible and modeled data where necessary allows GA4 reports to offer more accuracy, optimization suggestions, and improved automated bidding for your Google Ad.

GTMA Is Your Certified Google Partner and GA4 Experts

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As a data-driven digital marketing agency, our process starts with ensuring we have a full understanding of your business goals and how they are measured. GTMA is a certified Google Agency Partner, so you can be confident that we are up to date on Google’s changes and ready to adapt your marketing strategy and campaigns as tracking and reporting continue to evolve. Our digital marketing and advertising agency has more premier partnerships with leading ad platforms (like Yelp, Waze, Facebook, and Google) than most agencies — making GTMA your agency expert in hyper-local and national brand marketing, lead generation, social advertising, and more. If you have further questions about the transition to GA4 or your marketing campaigns, contact us to schedule a chat!


Company Announcements Digital Marketing Lead Generation




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