Google Analytics v4 (GA4) is the new version of Google’s Google Analytics product, Google Analytics 3, or Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 uses an event-based model for collecting data vs. the UA, which uses a page-view model.
At the end of the day, Google Analytics 3 (the current version) and Google Analytics 4 (the new version) have the same goal - to help you make informed decisions about your website or app based on accurate data. The major difference is how the program gathers this data. Google Analytics is based on pageviews whereas GA4 data is based upon events. The idea behind changing the model (and completely changing how Google Analytics works) is that event reporting is more accurate than page reporting. And while this fact may be true, the event-based model is a little more confusing than a pageview based model, and does take a bit of time to get used to.
Yes. As of July 1, 2023, if you want to use Google Analytics, you’ll need to use GA4, as GA/UA will no longer be available. Thus, you have to move to GA4. Besides, the sooner you switch the sooner you’ll be able to start comparing your current GA3 data with your new GA4 data.
There isn’t a direct upgrade path from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4. Instead, you must create a new property for each website you want to use with GA4. And as you can’t migrate the GA3/UA data over to GA4, Google recommends that you switch to GA4 early so you can compare your current GA3/UA data to your new GA4 data.
The GA4 interface looks very different from the GA3/UA interface. But to be sure, you can check your admin area. While you are in Analytics, navigate to Admin at the bottom left of your screen. Once you click that you’ll see the familiar Account/Property screen. Under property look at your options – if you see “Data Streams” then you are in Google Analytics 4.
Yes and no. Google Analytics (both versions) will show you locations down to the city level, so you can see what cities your visitors are coming from. However, you can’t see where a specific visitor came from at a more granular level.
According to Google, GA4 is more accurate than GA3 because of the new event-based modeling/data collection.
Once you install GA4, it will take up to 24 hours for you to start seeing data (with GA3 we saw new data a bit more quickly). To see if data collection is working, navigate to Admin and select your account and property. Under your Property, select Data Streams, and you will see a list of your data streams and a status such as “Receiving traffic in past 48 hours.” If you see this notification, then you know your installation is working.
The GA4 reports are different because GA4 tracking is based upon events vs. the pageview-based tracking from GA3/UA. In addition, Google is taking the approach of “less is more” and trying to limit the complexity of the reporting by focusing on data highlights.