Unveiling the Hidden Advantages of Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 has faced its fair share of criticism since its launch in late 2020. From the shift in user tracking to event tracking, to the absence of standard reports, and even the replacement of bounce rate with engagement rate, the list of complaints keeps growing.
Despite its flaws, GA4 is still the go-to platform for measuring website performance and user behavior. This is partly due to its free availability, a luxury that many competitors couldn’t meet.
While some may argue that GA4 falls short in various aspects, many firmly believe that these perceived flaws are actually significant improvements that enhance the product.
In this article, we delve into the five main criticisms of GA4 and shed light on how they ultimately contribute to the platform’s overall improvement.
Acclimatizing to the New Interface
GA4’s revamped user interface and redesigned reporting system may initially pose a learning curve, but the rewards are worth it.
Embrace the change. GA4’s new interface is a departure from its predecessor, providing a fresh approach to data analysis. Some critics claim that the interface’s complexity hinders adoption, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Upgrades often bring new interfaces, and with that comes a learning curve.
However, this new interface puts the user first. Marketers and analysts alike can now explore data with ease and customization, leading to deeper analysis and the discovery of hidden patterns.
With GA4, you have the power to personalize your interface. Remove irrelevant reports, add custom reports tailored to your business, and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Say goodbye to conforming to Google’s pre-set report names and groups!
While it may take some time to adjust, the long-term benefits are worth it. Improved data interpretation, actionable insights, and a fully customizable interface will transform your analytics experience.
Addressing Data Discrepancies
GA4 has sparked concerns about data discrepancies and disruptions, similar to the transition from GA2 to GA3 in 2012. However, it’s important to understand that with each iteration, analytics tools evolve to provide more accurate measurements for critical data points used in key performance indicators (KPIs).
Critics argue that the new data model and measurement protocol in GA4 create inconsistencies, making it difficult to rely on for accurate reporting. However, this assumption overlooks the fact that GA4 is actually more accurate than its predecessor, UA.
Analytics professionals have been advocating for businesses to enable GA4 for over a year now. By embracing GA4 early on, organizations can gather a full year of data for meaningful comparisons between GA4 and UA.
Unfortunately, many organizations have delayed reviewing their GA4 configurations, leaving them with the challenge of conducting comparative analyses within specific time periods. If you still need assistance with GA4 implementation, it’s recommended to connect with a Google Ads agency who can assist you in this area.
However, this presents an opportunity for users to reassess their measurement plans and take a more comprehensive and holistic approach to data analysis. GA4 allows organizations to leverage multiple data sources, including third-party data imports, to gain a deeper understanding of their users and their journey – something that was previously nearly impossible with UA.
Reduced report customisation
GA4 introduces a more simplified approach to event tracking and customization compared to its predecessor. While some critics argue that this reduction in customization options may limit the ability to track specific user actions and tailor analytics to individual business needs, it actually brings forth a new era of efficiency.
By simplifying event tracking, GA4 enables marketers and analysts to focus on the most crucial metrics and outcomes. It challenges us to reevaluate our tracking requirements and prioritize the metrics that truly matter, leading to more concise and actionable insights.
Moreover, the reduced customisation options promote a standardized approach to analytics, making it easier to benchmark and compare across industries.
Contrary to critics’ claims, GA4 actually offers greater levels of customization to the user interface. With the library feature, you have the ability to completely customize the UI, add custom reports, and create report sections according to your business needs.
In essence, GA4 empowers businesses to tailor their analytics experience with a little effort, ensuring it aligns perfectly with their unique requirements.
Limited Historical Data
GA4 has faced criticism for its limited compatibility with historical data from UA. Critics argue that this limitation hampers the ability to conduct meaningful trend analysis and accurately track long-term performance. But this is not a new challenge.
When GA migrated to UA in 2012, businesses faced a similar situation. There was no option to port old data into the new measurement logic, leaving them with the task of comparing apples to oranges in their data.
However, many analytics professionals have long advocated that revisiting data more than a year old may not provide valuable insights. This is especially true in the current scenario, as the pandemic has significantly impacted businesses, rendering year-over-year comparisons meaningless. Additionally, comparing data from the past few months to that of three or four years ago fails to take into account website and app updates, modernized marketing strategies, and changing user preferences in a dynamic global economy.
To truly understand your metrics, reporting must consider these factors. Simply looking at static numbers like users, sessions, and sales without context will lead to meaningless conclusions. In GA4, the key is to embrace the new measurement logic and leverage the insights it can provide without getting bogged down by the limitations of historical data.
In today’s world, user privacy is more important than ever. The introduction of stricter data collection and consent management mechanisms in GA4 has sparked some controversy. Critics argue that these enhanced privacy measures limit the availability of data for analysis and hinder marketers’ understanding of their audience.
However, this perceived flaw is actually crucial in establishing trust and transparency. By embracing privacy-centric practices, businesses can strengthen their relationships with users and position themselves as ethical data stewards.
As part of the migration to GA4, it is essential to review website and app privacy policies. This review is especially critical for sites that have enabled Google signals for “Reporting Identity” and operate under the legal aspects of GDPR.
Once you overcome the initial surprise of the updated interface and understand why the top five complaints about it are actually positive improvements, you’ll likely develop a newfound appreciation for GA4.
While certain features may currently be missing, there is optimism that Google will reintroduce them in a future release. (Users particularly miss the annotation tool and the ability to save predefined segments from standard reports.)
Although the GA4 upgrade has been widely regarded as “one of the worst ever” among marketers, it brings improvements that will likely be adopted by the majority of users within a few months.