The Benefits and Downsides of Switching from UA to GA4

GA4 (Google Analytics 4) has been released for some time now and if you use Universal Analytics, you’ve seen the pop-up prompting you to switch over. At Population Science, we’ve switched all of our clients over to GA4 to start collecting data as soon as we could, but we noticed some things we’d like to share with you here.

Benefits of switching to GA4

GA4 offers a range of new features and improvements to include some of what I’ve listed here.

  1. Enhanced tracking capabilities – because GA4 tracks by user rather than sessions, you’ll be able to follow your user’s journey throughout their devices.
  2. Streamlined Interface – while it may look like some of your favorite options are missing, they’re actually just tucked away in the Reports tab
  3. Improved Integrations – though you may not be able to see it, on the backend, but GA4 synchronizes better with Google Ads and Google Tag Manager.
  4. Advanced Machine Learning – such as automated insights and predictive metrics

While I understand a lot of this doesn’t show up as in-your-face user experience, these improvements go a long way towards building better overall data reporting capabilities (once you get the hang of it). 

Downsides of switching to GA4

Like with any platform, upgrading comes with some downsides:

  1. Limited Historical Data – The sooner you switch, the sooner your Analytics starts collecting data. GA4 data collection is not retroactive beyond when you initiate it. You could be missing out on vital business insights by holding off. 
  2. Different Data Structure – GA4 uses a different data model than Universal Analytics, which can make it challenging to migrate data and set up tracking correctly. You may need to invest time and resources into updating your tracking and reporting infrastructure.
  3. Limited Third-Party Integrations – Because it’s still so new, some third party integrations are still unavailable.
  4. Learning Curve – some marketers may need to invest time and resources into learning the new platform and its capabilities.
  5. Limited Customization Options – You still can’t create custom dashboards in GA4, but they’re working on it.

Yes, there is a lot of change with GA4 from Universal Analytics. But we’re confident that overall, GA4 offers a more flexible and robust analytics platform that can help businesses better understand and optimize their digital marketing efforts.

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