In March, Google announced that it would end support for Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. What should be kept in mind for those who have now decided to switch to GA4? And how can you quickly adapt to the new version of Analytics? We have compiled a list of the main differences for you.
Google ends support for:
- standard Universal Analytics resources – from July 2023;
- Universal Analytics 360 resources – from October 2023.
Specialists need to switch to the next version of the analytics system from Google – Google Analytics 4, says PPC.World.
What differences do you need to be prepared for if you are just planning this transition?
What is meant by “conversion” and “event”
In Universal Analytics there is a concept of “contact”. This is any user interaction with the resource on which the counter is set.
Two main types of conversion:
- Pageview – Registered automatically.
- Events (clicks, form submissions, video views) are configured manually.
When setting up events, you need to specify a category, action, and label. For example, for the “video watched” event, these could be “video”, “viewed to a certain percentage” and “75%”, respectively.
In Google Analytics 4, all hits are called events.
There are four types of events.
Two of them can be configured without recourse to code:
- automatically registered. Information is collected by default, during basic data collection. For example, this page view event is page_view.
- Improved statistics events. Registered if the advanced statistics option is enabled. For example, this site search event is view_search_results.
Two types of events are configured in code:
- Recommended events. These are events for which names are set in Analytics, but their implementation requires additional context, so the developer writes the code for them. For example, this is a purchase event on the site – purchase.
- Special events. These are events for which there are no standard solutions, the developer gives them names and implements them. At the same time, you can work with the code through the user interface.
When migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4, the first step is to deal with this difference in the structure of hits/events in order to rebuild the data collection logic.
How non-standard data is collected
Non-standard data is data that the analytics system does not automatically collect.
In Universal Analytics, custom data can be accessed using custom dimensions and metrics. This is information that the user manually specifies to collect in code to be displayed in reports, along with standard dimensions and metrics, notes NIX Solutions.
An example of standard data: the “city” parameter, the indicator is the number of sessions. The report table will display how many sessions in which city users have completed.
An example of non-standard data: the “difficulty level” parameter in the game, the indicator is the number of screen views (indicates involvement). The report will show how many screens players are watching depending on the difficulty level they are playing on.
The parameter must be assigned to the scope:
For example, a setting that registers paid and free subscriptions is easier to implement through the User scope.
In Google Analytics 4, custom data is also collected using custom dimensions and metrics.
Custom parameters also have scopes, but only two:
- user level: these settings are also called user properties;
- event level: parameters are written in the special event code.
Custom metrics are set only at the event level.
This is a special event that has two special parameters – the author of the article and the number of pages. In reports, you can configure a special article length indicator – Article_Length, which will take data from “number_of_pages”.
A special parameter “author” and an indicator “article length” will appear in the report. As a result, we will see how many pages of each author were potentially read by users (if each of them scrolled to the end).
Thus, the logic for collecting non-standard data when moving from Universal Analytics to GA4 needs to be converted.
For migration, it is important to consider what GA4 maps the scope from the Universal Analytics parameters to.
Which data collection settings are copied unchanged, which cannot be transferred
Transferred without changes if UA uses gtag.js or Google Tag Manager code:
- cookie options;
- advertising personalization.
- anonymization of IP addresses (enabled in GA4 by default);
- assignments (not available in GA4);
- user time tracking (not available in GA4).