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Unpacking Google Analytics 4: A Comprehensive Guide to the Future of Data Analytics

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In today's digital age, data is a critical component for success. As businesses and organizations across the globe have learned, understanding your audience's behavior can help improve marketing strategies, optimize user experience, and drive growth. This is where tools like Google Analytics come into play. In October 2020, Google announced the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the latest version of its popular web analytics service. In this blog, we'll delve into the world of GA4, exploring what it is, how it differs from Universal Analytics, its unique features, and how to set it up or upgrade from Universal Analytics.

Overview of Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4, formerly known as App + Web, is a new version of Google Analytics that provides cross-platform tracking across websites and apps. It's designed to provide more insightful and useful data to help businesses understand customer behavior across various touchpoints. GA4 focuses on visitor actions rather than sessions, helping businesses track their customer journeys more accurately and holistically.

GA4 vs. Universal Analytics

The main difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics lies in the data model. While Universal Analytics uses session-based measurement, GA4 uses an event-driven model. This shift allows businesses to have a more in-depth understanding of how users interact with their website or app.

Another key difference is the cross-platform tracking capability in GA4. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 can unify data from a website and a mobile app into one report, offering a complete view of how users interact with your business across different platforms.

Additionally, GA4 is more privacy-centric. With growing concerns over user privacy and changing data regulations, GA4 is designed to handle data more responsibly, providing reliable insights even with restricted cookies or identifiers.

New Features in Google Analytics 4

Several new features make GA4 stand out from its predecessor:

1. Events

Unlike Universal Analytics, where you had to set up event tracking manually or through Google Tag Manager, GA4 comes with built-in automated event tracking. It can automatically track some of the common events like scroll, video engagement, and file downloads.

2. Conversions

In GA4, any event can be marked as a conversion. This gives you the flexibility to measure what matters most to your business without needing to set up goals as in Universal Analytics.

3. Reports

GA4 provides more user-centric reports, giving a more comprehensive view of the customer journey. It offers enhanced reporting options, including cross-platform reporting and advanced analysis techniques like funnel analysis and cohort analysis.

4. Audiences

GA4 allows for more advanced audience segmentation. You can create audiences based on user demographics, behavior, and stages in their customer journey. Plus, these audience definitions can be used across your analysis and reporting within GA4.

Setting Up Google Analytics 4

Here are the steps to set up Google Analytics 4:

1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account.

2. Click 'Admin,' and navigate to the appropriate account.

3. In the Account column, click 'Create Property.'

4. Under 'Property setup,' enter a name for the property.

5. Click 'Show advanced options.'

6. Turn on the 'Create a Universal Analytics property' toggle.

7. Enter the website URL and select the protocol.

8. Select 'Create both a Google Analytics 4 and a Universal Analytics property.'

9. Complete the rest of the form, and then click 'Next' to add the business information.

10. After completing the form, click 'Create.'

11. Install the GA4 tracking code on your website or app.

Upgrading from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account.

2. Click 'Admin,' and navigate to the property you want to upgrade.

3. In the property column, click 'GA4 Setup Assistant.'

4. Click 'Get started' in the 'I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property' box.

5. Click 'Create Property.' This will create a new GA4 property that's connected to your existing Universal Analytics property.

Upgrading to GA4 doesn't mean you'll lose your Universal Analytics data. Both properties will work concurrently, so you can continue collecting data in Universal Analytics while getting familiar with GA4.


Google Analytics 4 represents a significant shift in how businesses approach data analytics. With its emphasis on an event-driven model, cross-platform tracking, and user privacy, GA4 is set to become a game-changer in the digital analytics landscape. Whether you're new to Google Analytics or have been using Universal Analytics, now is the time to explore and understand the benefits of GA4.

Need help migrating your Google Analytics? Get in touch we'll get you up and running in no time.

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