Google, Analytics5 February 2024

Wave Goodbye to Universal Analytics: Hello, Google Analytics 4

Writen by DBETA

Viewed 3 min read

Wave Goodbye to Universal Analytics: Hello, Google Analytics 4

In case you missed it, Google announced that Universal Analytics (UA) is out and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is in. But this isn't just an update— it’s a complete transformation of how your website traffic and user engagement are tracked. It will provide you with more detailed insights into visitor behaviour.

You have until July 1, 2023 to make the switch. And no matter how hard you wish and hope for it not to happen — it is happening, so don’t delay. By this date, your GA4 property must be set up and running by yourself or through Google. Opting out is always an option, but what good would that do? If GA4 still doesn’t make sense even after reading countless guides about it — know that you're not alone. Here's what the transition timeline looks like:

GA4 Timeline Highlights

  • March 2023: If you don't opt out, expect to see a new GA4 property courtesy of Google.
  • Up to July 1, 2023: Business as usual with UA.
  • July 1, 2023: UA stops processing data.
  • Post-July 1st, 2023: You’ll still be able to access UA reports for a while... but we don’t know how long “a while” exactly means because Google won’t tell us. So take all the time you need now to get your historical data as much as possible before they disappear forever. From this point on though, all new data will only be recorded with GA4.

What Makes GA4 Different?

  • Data Model Shift: GA4 moves from UA's session-based data to an event-based model.
  • Measurement Evolution: UA relies on page views and hits. GA4 shifts the focus to events and parameters, changing how interactions are measured.
  • Bounce Rate No More: The familiar bounce rate metric has been replaced by "engagement rate" in GA4, tracking engaged interactions instead. Missing bounce rate? It's now seen as the percentage of sessions under 10 seconds.
  • Google Tag Manager's New Role: With GA4, the Google Tag Manager becomes indispensable for tracking event-based goals—a departure from UA's model.

What's New with GA4?

  • Enhanced Customisation: GA4 introduces more sophisticated and abundant customisation options.
  • Anomaly Detection: This feature, available on most line charts, helps you spot unusual data trends.
  • Predictive Analytics: GA4 offers robust predictive analytics capabilities, from identifying potential churn to highlighting probable high spenders, a feature UA lacked.

Here to Support You

For our SLA clients, diving into GA4 doesn't have to be daunting. We'll ensure your GA4 account is properly set up and audited, complete with all the data you need. Each website launch under our Site SLA plan comes with a tailored Google Data Studio (GDS) dashboard, which we'll adapt to align with GA4, ensuring a seamless transition for your tags and events. This guarantees that you continue to derive maximum value from your data.

In Summary

Ready or not, GA4 is the new reality. Its arrival heralds advanced analytical capabilities, deeper insights, and standard predictive analytics, offering a more mature analytics experience compared to UA. Though it might seem like another hurdle from Google, the upgrade is designed to be beneficial in the long run. Our advice? Embrace GA4 sooner rather than later to familiarise yourself with its features. When July 1 rolls around, while others may panic, you'll be confidently navigating the new landscape.

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