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Google Analytics 4: What you need to know about GA4

Web Bureau

14 December 2022 by Web Bureau

What is GA?

Google Analytics officially launched on 14 November 2005 and has gone through several reincarnations since then, with Google’s Universal Analytics being the most recent version before GA4.

Google describes GA4 as “a platform that collects data from your websites and apps to create reports that provide insights into your business”.

Essentially, Google Analytics offers companies valuable data on page load times, how many people visited your website, how long they stayed on it, and their buying journey.

Companies then use all the data generated by Google Analytics to improve the customer’s shopping experience and purchase journey.

Ultimately, all the data should help companies make it as simple as possible for someone to buy a product.

However, the online world was very different when Google Analytics first launched.

Facebook was just a few months old, iPhones were yet to be invented, and desktops and laptops were most people’s way of accessing a website.

A lot has happened in those two decades, and buying products and services through smartphones and tablet devices is increasing yearly.

And it’s this dramatic change in the digital landscape that Google seeks to navigate through the new GA4.

So, I hear you asking, “What is GA4?”

Here’s everything you need to know.

Why should you move to GA4, and why now?

Google Analytics 4 will officially become the new Google Analytics in July 2023.

After that date, Universal Analytics will stop processing new data, such as website hits.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until July to get to grips with GA4.

GA4 is available now, and Google has a helpful guide on how to get started with GA4.

We’d recommend you use the time between now and Universal Analytic’s end date to switch over.


Firstly, you can start collecting new data on GA4  rather than – if you wait until July 2023 – which means that you’d be starting with no data whatsoever.

Secondly, like any new platform, GA4 has a learning curve packed with new features you’ll want to get to grips with.

The beauty of moving from Universal Analytics now to Google Analytics 4 is that you’ll still be able to use both the older version and the new one simultaneously.

This allows you the opportunity to cross-check historical analytics data with newer data.

What is the difference between GA4 and UA?

As we mentioned earlier, Universal Analytics was explicitly built for a different digital era, where desktops and laptops reigned supreme.

In 2023, however, smartphones and tablet devices will continue to be popular ways for customers to browse and buy products online.

As a result, GA4 Google Analytics focuses more on mobile app analytics, whereas Universal Analytics works mainly on web analytics.

You can read about all the main differences between GA4 and UA here.

GA4 benefits

The differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 are apparent.

GA4 is packed with useful features that give you unprecedented data that can help you improve your website, enhance the customer’s buying journey and ensure that your website and app deliver a modern experience for shoppers.

Another of the great benefits of GA4 includes the ability to tailor your Google Ads much more than before, which means you’ll get a much better ROI on all your marketing budget.

Some of the main differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 include the following:

Analysis and Measurement: Google Universal Analytics utilised a session-based data model, grouping your website’s visitors within specific time frames.

Unlike UA, GA4 allows for flexible event-based data, processing every website visitor’s interaction as an isolated event.

Reporting: The old Google Universal Analytics was limited in the data it could provide on a cross-platform and cross-device basis.

In contrast, GA4 users will enjoy full cross-platform and cross-device reporting.

Automation: We’re now at the start of the era of automation, and unfortunately for Google Universal Analytics, the options for automation were extremely limited.

However, Google Analytics 4 seeks to bridge this gap with machine learning that will make insights simpler to discover and act on.

Other differences, at a glance, between both platforms include:

  • Benefits of GA4 over UA include the ability to customise Reporting and User Interface (UI).
  • Another of the great GA4 benefits is that BigQuery is now free for all GA4 users.
  • Excellent flexibility on GA4 allows you to choose when and how to collect event-based data.
  • The ability to enable Enhanced Measurement, a new feature that Google says “lets you measure interactions with your content by enabling options (events) in the Google Analytics interface.”
  • Where Google Analytics heavily relied on Device ID as an identity space, GA4 offers user IDs, Google Signals and Device ID, giving you much better insights into your user’s cross-device and cross-platform journeys.
  • Better privacy controls: New regulations like GDPR have strengthened customers’ privacy rights. GA4 places a greater emphasis on protecting users’ privacy by permanently enabling the anonymisation of IP addresses.

Google has released a helpful guide that explores the differences in more depth between UA and GA4:

[UA→GA4] Comparing metrics: Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics

Need help with GA4? Get in touch with our digital marketing experts today: call us on 028 9073 1190 oremailus at

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