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Migrating from Google Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

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Migrating GA3 To GA4

Migrating from Google Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

Google has recently announced an upgrade to its Universal Analytics platform, which will now be known as Google Analytics 4. This new update brings a plethora of features and improvements that will provide better insights and tracking for businesses. As a business owner, it is essential to understand the importance of this update and the risks of not upgrading.

Migrating to Google Analytics 4

What every business owner should know

As a business owner, it’s important to be aware that switching to Google Analytics 4 brings many changes to the way data is collected and reported. With the new focus on privacy, businesses may not have access to the same level of reporting and insights that were available in Universal Analytics. This shift in data collection and reporting may require businesses to adjust their strategies and analysis to adapt to the new platform. However, with the new capabilities offered by Google Analytics 4, such as event tracking and cross-device tracking, businesses can gain more accurate and relevant insights into their performance data.

Privacy Laws

As privacy laws continue to become more stringent worldwide, businesses need to be aware of the impact these changes can have on their tracking and reporting capabilities. The EU has had strict privacy laws in place since 2018, and the US has recently followed suit. Users can now opt out of tracking by simply not accepting cookies when a website loads in their browser, which can disable third-party tracking pixels like the Facebook Pixel. This can have a significant effect on campaigns, as conversions may not be accurately measured. For example, if a business is running a Facebook ad and sending click traffic to its website, it may not be able to directly measure conversions if users opt out of tracking. In addition, Apple iOS disabled third-party tracking about a year ago, which has made tracking almost impossible for Facebook and other ad networks unless the user explicitly opts into being tracked. This could make a successful ad campaign appear as a failure solely due to tracking limitations! These changes in privacy laws mean that businesses need to adjust their tracking and reporting methods to ensure they are in compliance while still being able to measure their performance effectively.

The new privacy laws are a crucial consideration for businesses that want to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. The new platform is designed to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The GDPR is a regulation that aims to protect the privacy and data of EU citizens, while the CCPA is a law that provides California residents with specific rights regarding their personal data.

Google Analytics 4 helps businesses stay compliant with the latest laws and regulations regarding user privacy. Additionally, it offers more insights into customer behavior that can be used to improve marketing campaigns and create better customer experiences.

Anonymized User Data

One of the key features of Google Analytics 4 is the ability to anonymize user data, which means that businesses can comply with privacy laws while still collecting valuable insights. This feature allows businesses to track user behavior without collecting personally identifiable information, which can help them avoid legal issues and protect user privacy.

Future-Proofing Google Analytics

Machine Learning

One of the most significant changes in Google Analytics 4 is the shift toward machine learning and artificial intelligence. This change is due to the increasing demand for more accurate and real-time data that can help businesses make better decisions. The new platform uses machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and provide insights that were previously not possible with Universal Analytics.

Data-Driven Attribution

Another important feature of Google Analytics 4 is its focus on cross-device tracking. With the proliferation of mobile devices and the increase in the use of multiple devices by consumers, it has become critical for businesses to track user behavior across different devices. Google Analytics 4 uses a user-centric approach that allows businesses to track a user’s behavior across multiple devices and platforms.

How Ad Networks Measure Conversions

A Quick Lesson on Attribution

If you have an online store, your most important conversion action is a Purchase. If you have a law office, it’s a Lead who filled out an online contact form. There are many conversions that can be defined and configured.  To measure the success of your ad campaigns, you need to know which campaigns resulted in the most conversions. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  Your customer may do a Google Search while at work on her desktop PC, click on your ad, and check your website. Later at home, she may go back to your website directly by typing in the URL and reading more about your products and services.  She may then check out your Facebook page to see photos of your office and staff and click through to your website from Facebook to complete the conversion. This customer journey is quite common. However, it’s quite hard to attribute the conversion.

  • There is the First-Click Attribution, which in our example would mean that Google Ads gets 100% of the attribution credit.
  • There is the Last-Click Attribution, which in our example would mean that Facebook gets 100% of the attribution credit.
  • There are a number of other attribution algorithms to divide up the attribution credit among the touch points in various ways.
  • Then there is Data-Driven Attribution, which uses machine learning and tracks user behavior to attribute the conversion in a more scientific way.

With GA4 and Google Ads, and with Enhanced Conversions enabled on your ad accounts, you can take advantage of Data-Driven Attribution which is currently the most accurate attribution algorithm available.

What’s Different in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 is built using a completely different structure than Universal Analytics and this means that there is no easy migration process.

  • GA4 is event-based, meaning that everything is considered an event, including pageviews, timing hits, transactions, and other types that were available in Universal Analytics.
  • The data model is different in GA4, allowing for more flexibility and the ability to send custom parameters.
  • GA4 conveniently allows data from both websites and mobile apps to be streamed to a single property.
  • Free GA4 accounts can now integrate directly with BigQuery, which was previously only available to premium Universal Analytics users.
  • Enhanced Measurement in GA4 automatically tracks interactions beyond pageviews, such as outbound link clicks, scrolling, and Youtube video views.
  • Explorations, such as ad-hoc funnels and pathing, are now available in GA4 for analysis.
  • Scope has changed in GA4, with all events being hit-scoped and custom dimensions now being user-scoped.
  • Historical data in GA4 expires after 14 months unless configured otherwise, unlike Universal Analytics where data could be set to never expire.
  • Views are no longer present in GA4, and the number of predefined reports is limited compared to Universal Analytics.
  • Some integrations are still missing in GA4, such as Search Console, but they are expected to be added soon.
  • Unfortunately, historical data from Universal Analytics cannot be moved to GA4, so it is important to start using GA4 as soon as possible to avoid losing data.

Unfortunately, historical data from Universal Analytics cannot be moved to GA4, so it is important to start using GA4 as soon as possible to avoid losing data.

No More Bounce Rate!

Google Analytics 4 has introduced a more useful metric to replace the outdated bounce rates. The new metric is called Engaged Sessions, and it provides a better understanding of the user’s behavior on your website.

An Engaged Session is defined as a session that exceeds 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has two or more page views. This definition is broader than the previous one and gives you a more accurate representation of how users interact with your site.

With Engaged Sessions, you can see who actively engages with your website, not just those leaving without any interaction. By focusing on user engagement, you can gain more valuable insights into your website’s performance.

You can still calculate bounce rates by subtracting the number of engaged sessions from your total visits. This reframing is intended to help you focus on data that matters and make informed decisions to improve your website’s engagement.

Improved Mobile Tracking

In 2012, when Google launched Universal Analytics, most web traffic came from desktops. As a result, most analytic reports focused on metrics related to desktop web browsing. However, with almost 59% of web traffic now coming from mobile devices, Google Analytics 4 has adjusted its tracking to better accommodate mobile-specific traffic.

GA4 provides an opportunity for companies to set up data collection for their mobile apps. Universal Analytics did not have this capability, which is why GA4 is a great tool for mobile tracking. By setting up data collection for your company’s app, you can monitor mobile app usage, user behavior, and other relevant data points. This can help you gain insights into how users engage with your app and optimize their experience accordingly.

Custom Conversion Events

With GA4, there’s no more need to set conversion goals for your website or app. Instead, you can specify conversion events for each action that you want to track. GA4 tracks every instance of these conversion events, even if they occur multiple times during the same session.

This new approach to tracking conversions in GA4 provides much richer data compared to Universal Analytics, which only counted one conversion per session. With this new feature, you can gain a better understanding of which sessions are from your loyal or repeat customers, giving you insights that can help you optimize your website or app for better results.

What Happens if I Don’t Migrate to Google Analytics 4?

One of the risks of not migrating to Google Analytics 4 is the loss of valuable data. Universal Analytics will stop collecting and storing data as of July 1st, 2023. Your historical data will be available until the end of 2023.

Another risk is the potential loss of insights due to the increasing focus on privacy. The new platform is designed with privacy in mind, and it provides businesses with more control over user data. However, this increased focus on privacy also means that businesses that do not upgrade may not be able to access certain data points that were previously available in Universal Analytics. As privacy laws become more stringent, it is essential for businesses to upgrade to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

It is important to note that Google Analytics 4 has removed some of the standard reports and charts that were available in Universal Analytics. These include reports such as the audience overview and the acquisition overview. Instead, Google Analytics 4 focuses on event tracking, which means that businesses must program events to track specific actions on their websites or apps. This change allows businesses to have more control over the data they collect and ensures that the data collected is relevant to their specific goals and objectives. While this may require some additional work for businesses, the ability to customize event tracking can provide more accurate insights and better decision-making capabilities.


Google Analytics 4 is a significant upgrade from Universal Analytics that provides businesses with more accurate and real-time data, cross-device tracking, and better privacy compliance. While there are risks associated with not upgrading, such as the loss of valuable data and insights, upgrading to Google Analytics 4 can help businesses grow and optimize their performance while complying with privacy laws. As a business owner, it is essential to consider upgrading to Google Analytics 4 to ensure that your business stays competitive and compliant in the ever-changing digital landscape.

If the move to GA4 seems intimidating, don’t hesitate to seek expert help to ensure a smooth transition and prevent any data loss. It’s important to get started with GA4 as soon as possible to ensure compliance with the new privacy laws. If you are not familiar with the platform, seeking the assistance of an expert can make the migration process even easier. At Navazon, we have a team of Certified Google Analytics experts who have already helped our clients seamlessly switch from Google Analytics to GA4, and we are well-equipped to assist you as well.

Sasson is the founder and President of Navazon since 1999. He helps clients strategize effective marketing campaigns that bring business results.