August 9, 2021

Google Analytics 4 Pros & Cons

Google Analytics 4 has several clear benefits over Universal Analytics, but there are also some drawbacks to running the newest version.

For the last week, I have taken a deep dive into the new Google Analytics 4 and I’m ready to share my takeaways. 

Google Analytics 4 Pros:


Event Tracking Is Awesome And Flexible

The event tracking is awesome and flexible. This feature has definitely taken on new prominence within GA4 compared to what it was in Universal Analytics. 

 

GA4 does a great job of measuring engagement on your site. And it’s not just convergence. Now you can think of events as micro conversions. Additional benefits include a super clean UX and the ability to implement Google Tag Manager easily. 

 

GA4 was up and running quickly. It automatically registered a lot of events adding them to the dashboard where you can make them a conversion with the click of a button. GA4 automatically registers some events like outbound link clicks and a couple of others automatically. So you can easily promote these events to conversions. 

 

I’m a big fan of all the conversion tracking in GA4, replacing the several weak options for doing conversions in Universal Analytics. The result is increased standardization in GA4.

 

The engineers at Google really thought about how to make this tool useful for the greatest number of people with the least amount of work. 

Plays Well With Google Tag Manager

I’d be remiss not to talk about the new cool UX the engineers have made for us. It’s easier on the eyes in my opinion. My favorite metrics are here, in a new sleeker design I love Google Tag Manager, there’s not debating that. I am happy to say that the New GA4 had GTM in mind when they started this version – hooray!

New Clean UX

I’d be remiss not to talk about the new cool UX the engineers have made for us. It’s easier on the eyes in my opinion. My favorite metrics are here, in a new sleeker design.

You Can Use UA And GA4 At The Same Time

You can run both Universal Analytics and GA$ at the same time. This takes into consideration that GA4 is in beta & there’s millions of sites still running Universal Analytics.

Google Analytics 4 Cons:


Data Reset - Starts At Day 0 Data

A few areas of the software could use improvement. One major downside I found was that the traffic or your record of traffic is going to start at zero data. There are exceptions, depending on the tags that you have in use, but it’s likely you will start at Day Zero data.  

 

Because of this, I need to look at two data pools to make ROI and year over year or month over month decisions. That obviously is not an ideal user experience. 

  

Event Tracking Isn't Intuitive

As much as I like the flexible event tracking conversions, they aren’t intuitive if you haven’t implemented the data layer so an event pushes. There will be some learning involved for most users in this area. While I think the direction is ultimately for the best, it warrants more discussion.

Slow Data Pushes

I have heard some talk among users talking about the slow data push through, taking around 24 to 48 hours for the data to roll in. 

 

Personally, I don’t log on to Google Analytics to check the day’s traffic. I prefer to use the tool to check campaigns and landing page performance over a specific timeframe. I am not worried about seeing a snapshot of what is happening today or yesterday. When I use Google Analytics, I want a big picture perspective, but I know others do want to see the data immediately. 

 

We are still in beta, so time will tell if these issues get resolved. 

 

Final Thoughts

With Google’s launch of a new platform, that usually means that the older version is getting retired. While I can almost guarantee the eventual sunset of Universal Analytics, I expect it to take some time because a large number of sites are still on the old platform. There are some resources below that talk about that.

I found that I like the flexibility of running both concurrently on all my sites. While some of the features are scant in GA4, especially when you think of ecommerce, I fully expect to see new features soon.

Now is the time to learn how to harness the power of GTM and event tracking. It’s an excellent opportunity to strengthen your game.

My advice when it comes to GA4 is: Don’t freak out.

I had concerns about the new platform, but when I dug in I found that it was easy to implement and most of the functions that I care about are still there along with a couple of new things. Enjoy the new GA4!

 

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