Unicorn sightings: The people who love Google Analytics 4 and why
Not everyone is complaining about GA4 – in fact, some marketers love it so much, they think it's 'better' than Universal Analytics.
Google Analytics 4 is better than Universal Analytics – at least, that’s what some marketers have been telling Search Engine Land.
While the new platform certainly has its fair share of haters, some advertisers seem to absolutely adore it and have been showering the tool with praise.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how on Earth they could have reached this conclusion, below, we’ve put together some of the feedback we received from these unicorns. Let us know if their explanations could persuade you to have a sudden change of heart.
1. GA4 is easier (when it’s been set up properly)
Tim Barlow, managing director of Attacat, says that GA4 is a superior tool to UA because:
- “Customisation is easy.”
- “When well set-up, GA4 is much easier for first-time users to get to grips with.”
- “GA4 has a better data model – someone reading a blog post for 30 mins is a bounce in GA3. In GA4 they are the valued reader they are.”
- “GA4 is designed for more than just websites whereas GA3 isn’t suitable for the multi-device/mixed on and offline world we now live in.”
- “Consent is now a major issue in Europe. Google seems to be the only company properly investing in this issue – at least in the world of free or affordable Analytics.”
- “Non-developers can achieve more with GA4 because GA3 invariably needed devs for any customisation. With GA4 you still need a dev involved but not as often.”
2. It’s more accurate
The unpopularity of GA4 is simply down to people not having enough time to learn how it works rather than it being a reflection of the tool itself, according to Drew Blumenthal, founder and CEO of Digital Drew SEM.
GA4 has a number of great features to offer the industry, once advertisers have the chance to understand how it works, he said:
- “I personally think the interface is a lot sleeker than UA, but more importantly it is more accurate.
- “With the loss of data through privacy policies, you need GA4 to be more accurate of the traffic coming in.
- “GA4 also combines app, first-party data as well as cookie data, which is going to be a lot better long term. “
3. GA4 is powerful, flexible and creative
Digital marketer Stacey Chance admits that trying to understand how to use GA4 to its full capacity has definitely been a “learning curve”.
However, she pointed out that using events in the new tool is actually the same as it is in other analytics platforms, such as Heap, making the process straight forward than she originally realized, she said:
- “Our team has found GA4’s features incredibly powerful and flexible.”
- “The more we use it, the more we find creative, smart ways to leverage its features.”
4. It’s better than UA
The team at AS Marketing admit they found GA4 a bit tricky to navigate in the beginning, but since taking the time to understand how it works, they now think its a superior tool to its predecessor. They explain:
- “Our team at my marketing agency has actually found GA4 to be better than Universal Analytics, because it focuses on events over a mass conglomerate of complex data with no meaning.”
- “With so many companies doing digital marketing, focusing on engagement data and tracking that as events makes a lot more sense, which GA4 does a brilliant job of.”
- “We also find the custom dashboards easier to set up and understand. We’ve migrated all our clients to GA4 and they’ve all been pleased with the new set up.”
5. It’s a great tool for understanding audiences
Andrew Glenn, digital experience analyst and SEO Manager at Abbott, says that he is a huge fan of GA4. In fact, he tells Search Engine Land that he “loves” the new tool.
Explaining why he thinks it’s such a great platform, he said:
- “GA4 is perfectly aligned to better segment audiences, learn about them and use the GMP to better serve what’s most important to those audiences.”
6. GA4 is robust and offers more flexibility
Freelance Java EE Developer Robert Nowak isn’t a huge fan of GA4’s interface and thinks some marketers may find it harder to use. However, overall, the new platform offers a bunch of benefits that have ultimately won him over. He says:
- “I love the new options for event tracking – they are much more robust and offer a lot of flexibility.
- “GA4 for me is a big bag – you throw in it all the data you can gather, and then you must figure out how to match pieces to filter that bag. Theoretically, this is better because you can make GA4 your own with your own setup and data you actually need instead of 100 reports you might never use in GA UA.
7. Taking pipelining possibilities to a new level
Digital strategist at Marketing Doctor Richie Moczo and his team are now confident in using GA4 after taking the time to learn how to use the tool properly. He personally now prefers this tool to its predecessor because of the capabilities it offers:
- “GA4 takes data pipelining possibilities to a new level with it’s free integration with Big Query. For example, with GA4 you are limited to 25 params per event, but if you want to exceed that limit, you can send your additional parameters to big query.
- “In UA this feature was only an option to Marketing 360 customers!
- “Don’t make up reasons to avoid using GA4. Some of the most popular features from UA were slow to be added to GA4, however newly added GA4 have been flying into place!”
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Why we care
GA4 has received a lot of flack from the digital marketing world following the sunset of UA. But Google's new tool isn't going away anywhere soon, so we had all better get used to it.
With that in mind, perhaps it's time to let our guards down and embrace the many advantages GA4 has to offer – because it looks like there are a lot!
Why GA4 is causing issues for some marketers
Although the advertisers we spoke to above are fans of the new analytics platform, they acknowledged it's easy to understand why some marketers might not like it.
In addition to people in general typically not responding well to change, managing director of Attacat, Tim Barlow, thinks GA4 was rolled out before it was truly ready. Despite believing it's a superior tool to UA, he says there are a number of issues with GA4, such as:
- "Some of the language used in the interface is awful! For example, the 'Users by Session default channel group over time' - why not just stick with 'Session source'?"
- "The out-of-the-box set-up is deliberately generalized as GA4 is designed to cover so much more than a simple website. This means however that the default reports are close to useless as they have far too many irrelevant metrics."
- "The lame attempt to promote AdSense by including advertising metrics causes extra confusion."
- "Gaining the real benefit requires a lot of set-up/getting up to speed on the tool's capability and that's not a journey those who only want the real basics want to have to go through."
- "Google released GA4 way too early so when people looked at it, it was missing so many features as to be virtually unusable. For example its frustrating that you can only look at daily data rather than weekly or monthly data."
Despite flagging these issues, Barlow concludes that he is confident Google will take action and improve its product. He adds: "I have faith though that all these features will come with time."
For more information on how to migrate to GA4, read Google's 'Learn how to make the switch' guide.
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