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Thu Jun 22 2023

The Impact of GA4 on Website Tracking & Reporting

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Universal Analytics (UA) has been a trusted tool for tracking and reporting website data, providing valuable insights for businesses. On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data. Google has been encouraging businesses and website owners to start implementing Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and transition from Universal Analytics

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With the evolving digital landscape, Google recognised the need for a more advanced analytics solution. GA4 represents the next generation of Google Analytics, offering a comprehensive and integrated approach to tracking and reporting. It introduces new features and capabilities to help businesses gain deeper insights into user behaviour across websites and apps.

At Arcadian Digital, we are here to help you understand the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. We can help businesses that are making the switch.

Understanding the Changes in Website Tracking with GA4

GA4 brings significant changes to website tracking, revolutionising the way businesses capture and analyse user data. One of the key changes is the shift from session-based tracking to event-based tracking. In UA, sessions were the primary unit of measurement, representing a period of user activity on a website.

However, with GA4 tracking, the focus shifts to individual events, allowing businesses to track specific actions taken by users. These events include clicks, form submissions, or video views. By implementing GA4’s event tracking, you gain a clearer picture of how users engage with your website. For instance, you can track which specific buttons users click the most, helping you identify areas for improvement or conversion optimisation.

Key Features of GA4: A Breakdown of Enhanced Tracking Capabilities

Google Analytics 4 introduces a range of enhanced tracking capabilities that enable businesses to gather more comprehensive data. We have already discussed the change from session-based tracking to event-based tracking. GA4 also places a stronger emphasis on events as conversion points, allowing you to define and track custom events. This flexibility enables you to measure and optimise conversions based on specific user actions.

Another key feature of GA4 is the integration of web and app tracking into a single property. With the growing prevalence of mobile apps, it is crucial to have a unified understanding of user behaviour across platforms. This integration allows businesses to uncover cross-platform insights and identify user engagement patterns. 

GA4 tracking also enables cross-device tracking. This cross-device tracking enables us to follow the complete user journey. We can now follow the complete user journey, regardless of whether a user starts on their mobile, and switches to desktop. This enables us to optimise your website’s performance for each step of the user journey.

The Shift from Sessions to Events: What It Means for Website Reporting

The transition from session-based tracking to event-based tracking brings about a significant change in website reporting. In the traditional Google Analytics reports, the focus was on measuring user interactions within a defined session period.

However, with GA4 tracking, the emphasis shifts to tracking specific actions taken by users throughout their journey on the website. This shift enables us to give you a more granular and detailed view of user engagement. GA4 reporting enables us to gain deeper insights into your user behaviour patterns and the effectiveness of their website’s elements.

The shift from sessions to events means that we can now measure and report on a wider range of user interactions. Each individual event, such as button clicks, form submissions, or video views, can be tracked and analysed separately. This provides a more comprehensive understanding of user engagement on your site.

GA4’s event-based tracking helps us to identify actions that lead to conversions and measure marketing campaign impact. This type of tracking provides valuable insights based on data, allowing businesses to enhance user experience and overall website performance.

The Impact of Privacy and Data Protection on GA4 Tracking

Privacy and data protection are increasingly emerging as critical concerns in the digital landscape. GA4 recognises the need for businesses to prioritise user privacy. It offers features that align with privacy regulations, such as GDPR and ePrivacy Directive.

By allowing businesses to obtain user consent for tracking activities, GA4 ensures compliance and transparency in its data collection. Giving users control over their data, strengthens the relationships with your audience by demonstrating your commitment to data privacy and protection.

GA4 also encourages privacy-centric practices through data minimisation. It enables businesses to collect only the necessary data for analytics purposes, reducing the risks associated with handling sensitive user information. This mitigates the potential impact of data breaches by anonymising data and minimising the collection of personally identifiable information (PII).

Navigating GA4 Reporting Challenges

The switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 represents more than just an upgrade in tracking and reporting capabilities; it signifies a trend break between the two reporting methods. This may present a short-term challenge for year-on-year reporting for your business. Due to differences in data models and varied implementation timelines, comparing data directly between the two versions is not advisable. GA4’s event-based model and emphasis on custom event tracking introduce inconsistencies when compared to UA’s session-based approach. 

Understanding that the two data sets are not like-for-like is crucial to avoid misleading trends or erroneous comparisons. To navigate these challenges, it’s important to establish a transition period where both UA and GA4 are run in parallel to capture data in both platforms. Educating stakeholders about the disparities and limitations of year-on-year comparisons is crucial for setting realistic expectations. 

It’s important to approach the transition with a clear understanding of the differences between the two data sets. By adopting this approach, businesses can overcome short-term challenges and continue making informed decisions based on the valuable insights derived from GA4.

Best Practices for Implementing GA4 Tracking on Your Website

Now that you understand the differences between tracking and reports in Universal Analytics and GA4, it’s time to discuss implementation. Implementing GA4 tracking on your website requires careful planning and execution to ensure accurate data collection and effective reporting. Here at Arcadian Digital, there are several best practices that we will consider when implementing GA4 tracking:

Define clear tracking goals: Before implementing GA4, we will identify your specific tracking goals and objectives. Determining the key metrics and events that you want to track helps to gain meaningful insights. Defining clear tracking goals ensures we structure GA4 implementation accordingly and that the collected data aligns with your business objectives.

GA4’s event-based tracking model allows for granular tracking of user interactions. It is crucial to plan and implement a comprehensive event-tracking strategy. Our team ensures that all data captured provides valuable insights into user behaviour.

Customise your tracking implementation: GA4 offers flexibility in customising your tracking implementation. We will work with you to identify the user actions you want to track, such as clicks or form submissions.

We take advantage of custom dimensions, user properties, and enhanced measurement features to tailor the tracking to your specific business needs. By implementing custom tracking, our experts will gather more targeted data and gain deeper insights into user segments and behaviours. This also enables us to customise any reports created in GA4.

Test and validate your implementation: Before fully deploying GA4 tracking on your live website, we will thoroughly test and validate your implementation. We will verify that the tracking events are firing correctly and that the data is being collected accurately. Testing ensures that tracking is set up as intended and helps identify any issues or discrepancies that need to be addressed.

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, it is crucial to stay ahead of the curve. Implementing GA4 tracking can be a game-changer, providing you with enhanced tracking capabilities and deeper insights into user behaviour. Our team will work closely with you to help define clear tracking goals and develop a comprehensive strategy to align with your business objectives. Contact us today to help make the transition to GA4 a smooth one.

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We’d love to hear about your digital requirements. Even if you don’t quite know what you need, get in touch as we can help formulate a whole digital strategy to meet your business objectives.

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03 9090 7070

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