What is Google Analytics 4?

Google has provided an reporting tool, Google Analytics, for website owners to understand their visitors better since 2005. It is the most widely used web reporting tool and is now on version 4 – commonly known as GA4. 

In general, the analytics tool is designed to help owners of websites and apps track visitor behaviour including the originating source of the visitor, what they engage with when on the site and some demographic information about the visitors (if activated). When used with other Google products, such as Google Ads, it creates a rich data source that can be used to maximise advertising budgets and channel engagement.  

Google Analytics 4 is the new version of Google Analytics and is due to fully replace the current version (Universal Analytics or UA) by July 2022, when UA will stop collecting data. After 2024 all data in UA will no longer be available.  

GA4 provides reporting through a script that is added to the websites and apps that require tracking. This script then records events made by users. An event might be a page view, a button click or a transaction. This information is then stored by Google and presented back in GA4 in two ways: as default reports or as a set of data that can be ‘explored’ with custom reports.

The default reports are broken down into the following areas: 


  • Acquisition – where have the users come from and who are they?
  • Engagement – what are user doing when they are on the site
  • Monetisation – if you earn revenue from your website or app this section will tell you who is purchasing what
  • Retention – how well are you retaining user?

Why is Google ending Universal Analytics?

Google formally announced the move to GA4 explaining that UA was designed around a legacy way of how we used to interact digitally – through desktop-based websites and sessions. With the mobile-first multi-device world, GA4 is structured to help businesses track behaviour across apps and websites more seamlessly. Additionally, it is designed to be more privacy conscious. Previously UA was reliant on cookies and allowed for IP tracking. Now it uses an event-based model that doesn’t require cookies and leverages machine learning to bridge gaps in data where people might be blocking tracking scripts. It’s not perfect but it will go a long way to helping businesses be respectful of their customers privacy while also giving marketeers insight into how to improve the experience being delivered. 

There are lots of other improvements to GA4, which you can learn about here: The difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics.

Need any help with GA4, contact us.

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