Google Analytics is a widely used web analytics tool that allows website owners and marketers to track and analyze user behavior on their sites. In October 2020, Google launched a new version of Google Analytics called GA4, which is designed to provide more advanced insights and features compared to the previous version, GA3. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key differences between GA4 and GA3 and what they mean for website owners and marketers.
- Data Collection
One of the major differences between GA4 and GA3 is the way they collect and process data. GA3 uses a tracking code that collects data using cookies, while GA4 uses a measurement protocol that sends data directly to Google’s servers. This means that GA4 can collect data from a wider range of devices and platforms, including mobile apps, gaming consoles, and internet of things (IoT) devices.
Another important difference is that GA4 focuses on event-based tracking rather than page-based tracking. This means that instead of tracking pageviews and sessions, GA4 tracks user interactions with specific elements on a page, such as clicks, video views, and form submissions. This allows website owners and marketers to gain a more detailed understanding of how users are engaging with their site and what actions they are taking.
- User Interface
The user interface of GA4 is quite different from GA3, with a more modern and streamlined design. GA4 also offers more customization options, allowing users to create custom reports, dashboards, and alerts. However, some users may find the new interface less intuitive and more difficult to navigate compared to GA3, especially if they are not familiar with event-based tracking.
- Data Analysis
GA4 provides more advanced data analysis capabilities compared to GA3, thanks to its integration with Google’s machine learning technology. GA4 includes a feature called “Analytics Intelligence” that uses machine learning algorithms to automatically identify trends and insights in user data. For example, Analytics Intelligence can help identify which pages on a website are most likely to lead to conversions, or which user segments are most valuable for a particular marketing campaign.
- Cross-Platform Tracking
One of the key advantages of GA4 is its ability to track user behavior across multiple devices and platforms. This is particularly important in today’s multi-device and multi-channel world, where users may interact with a brand across multiple touchpoints before making a purchase. GA4’s cross-platform tracking capabilities allow website owners and marketers to gain a more comprehensive view of user behavior and to better understand the customer journey.
- Privacy and Compliance
Another important difference between GA4 and GA3 is their approach to privacy and compliance. GA4 includes several new features that are designed to help website owners and marketers comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. For example, GA4 includes an “enhanced data controls” feature that allows users to choose which data is collected and stored, and a “data deletion” feature that allows users to delete data associated with specific users or events.
In conclusion, GA4 represents a major update to Google Analytics that offers a range of new features and capabilities compared to GA3. While some users may find the new interface and event-based tracking system more challenging, the benefits of cross-platform tracking, advanced data analysis, and enhanced privacy features make it a valuable tool for website owners and marketers looking to gain deeper insights into user behavior and improve their online marketing efforts. As such, it’s worth exploring GA4 to see if it’s a good fit for your business.