Migrating from Universal Analytics (GA3) to Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest iteration of Google Analytics and offers many benefits over Universal Analytics (UA), such as more customization and automatic tracking. GA4 allows website owners to analyze multiple data streams simultaneously, making it ideal for companies with multiple websites or a website and an app. Additionally, GA4 provides better control over user data and complies with privacy laws like GDPR. However, GA4 can be challenging to use, as the place where data is displayed may not be immediately clear, and the UI is often confusing, especially for marketers.

The benefits of Google Analytics 4

  • More customization
  • Automatic tracking (you don’t have to wait for data to come through)
  • Consolidate Data: Unlike UA, GA4 allows website owners to analyze multiple data streams at once. This is useful for companies with multiple websites or companies with a website and an app.
  • Privacy and Security: Google has publicly said that growing user concerns over privacy and security was their number one motivation for building GA4. GA4 intrinsically allows for better control over user data and is better equipped to comply with privacy laws such as GDPR. For example, in GA4, user IP addresses are no longer stored, and there is more flexibility for data deletion if a company is requested to do so.

The main difference between UA and GA4 is that UA is session-based and GA4 is event-based. GA4 uses event-based tracking, which can simplify reporting but may be confusing for marketers who are accustomed to nuanced reporting. In GA4, events refer to singular actions taken on the website. GA4 also uses different terms than UA, such as “Engagement” instead of “Behavior” and “Conversions” instead of “Goals.” Furthermore, the metrics “Page Bounce Rate” and “Unique Page Views” have been eliminated in GA4, but a custom “page_view” event can track the number of times a new page is loaded.

The Challenges of GA 4

While it has many valuable features, there are certainly some challenges that come with GA 4. One of the most obvious challenges is the placement of data. It’s not always easy to find where certain data is being displayed. Unlike Google Analytics Universal, where everything is organized, GA4 makes navigating the data and understanding where everything is displayed complex.

Another challenge with GA4 is the lack of useful, easy-to-follow documentation from Google. Google’s documentation is often incomplete, leaving users to rely on blogs and online forums for assistance. This can make finding the right information frustrating and time-consuming.

The user interface (UI) of GA4 can also be confusing for marketers. The dashboard layout and functionality of GA4 differ significantly enough from previous versions that marketers may struggle to find familiar features. Google Analytics Universal served as the industry standard for years, and marketers who are used to it may find GA4 a difficult upgrade.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that GA4 is designed more for data scientists than marketers. It provides advanced data modeling and machine learning tools that many may not know how to use or even have access to. As a result, it has become increasingly challenging for marketers to analyze the data and use it to make informed decisions.

Google Analytics 4 Glossary of Terms

Event: events in GA 4 mean a completely different thing than they did in UA.

Engagement: In GA 4, ‘Engagement’ is more or less the equivalent to ‘Behavior’ in UA.

User: In GA 4, a user is any person who visits your website. Even if they use multiple devices, they are still counted as the same user.

Sessions: Any interactions from users that take place within a preset time period.


Common GA4 How-Tos

Setting up Events

Setting up Events with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is straightforward, whether you’re importing from the previous version or creating a new event. To import events from Universal Analytics (UA), log into your GA4 account, click on ‘Admin’ in the bottom left corner, and under Property Settings go to ‘Events’. Click “Create Event’, input the name of your UA event and specify that you would like Google Analytics to copy over any event name that matches that custom event name. This will copy UA events to the GA4 platform.

To create a new event in GA4, log into your GA4 account and follow steps 1–3 above. Then set up an individual event where you can configure the parameters such as name, description, category and label information for each action you would like to track. Review all of the respective fields and select which should be non-interaction hits. Lastly, create conditions if applicable and save and enable your created events.

Following these simple steps when setting up Events in GA4 will help ensure accurate tracking of user behaviour on sites, resulting in richer insights into customers’ journeys.

If importing from UA:

    1. Once logged into your GA4 account, click on ‘Admin’ in the bottom left corner
    2. Under Property Settings, go to ‘Events’
    3. Click “Create Event’
    4. Under ‘Custom Event Name’, input the name of your UA event
    5. Under ‘Matching Conditions’, specify that you would like Google Analytics to copy over any event name that matches your custom event name. This will copy UA events to the GA4 pla

If creating a new event in GA4:

    1. Once logged into your GA4 account, click on ‘Admin’ in the bottom left corner
    2. Under Property Settings, go to ‘Events’
    3. Click “Create Event’


Setting up Goals

Note: in GA4, ‘Goals’ are known as ‘Conversions’

Directly in GA 4:

    1. Once logged into your GA4 account, click on ‘Admin’ in the bottom left corner
    2. Under Property Settings, go to ‘Events’
    3. On the far right hand side, toggle ‘Mark as Conversion’ forward on the events that you want to mark as conversions (goals)

With Google Tag manager:

    1. In Google Tag Manager, set up a new tag and select ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’
    2. In Configuration Tag, select the type of GA4 Configuration Tag that you will be using
    3. Name your event
    4. Create the trigger configuration applicable to your tag
    5. You will now see these events under the ‘Realtime’ report in GA4
    6. Follow the instructions above to mark ‘events’ as ‘conversions’

Note: the data you would find under ‘Behavior’ in UA now lives under ‘Engagement’ in GA 4.


#of sessions per page

Under ‘Engagement’, select ‘Pages and screens’. To filter your view to see Organic sessions, click on ‘Add comparison’ in the top left corner. Under ‘Select dimension’, choose ‘First session source / medium includes google / organic’

Average time spent on page

‘Average time spent on page’ is known as ‘Average engagement time’ in GA4. It appears as a column under ‘pages and screens’


Page demographics

You can see certain demographics like age and gender by adding a comparison view under ‘Pages and screens’.


Page bounce rate

The page bounce rate metric has been eliminated within GA4. With so many users using multiple tabs at a time (oops, myself included), bounce rate was determined to be an unreliable metric. The closest thing in GA4 would be ‘Average engagement time’, which is also available under ‘Pages and Screens’.

Unique page view

The concept of unique page views has also been eliminated in GA4. However, you can set up a custom event that will serve as a close equivalent to a page view. By setting up a “page_view” event, you can track every time a new page is loaded.

Page Exits

Page exits can be viewed if you set up a dimension under ‘explore’. There are instructions on how to do this here.

Important GA4 reports:

  • Home page shows a top-level view of your website. It is auto-personalized, and will show you any reports that you’ve recently viewed and other auto insights.
  • Reports shows you how people find your website, pages they’ve viewed, whether they’ve converted, and other demographic details
  • Under Explore, you create customized reports, and choose different ways to visualize data (tables, funnel visualizations, etc)
  • Under advertising, you can see different marketing channels and how they lead to website conversions

Page Load Times

  • There is not currently a way to see page load time in GA4 that is comparable to UA. Some users have found success installing a custom script on Google Tag Manager.

Time of Day

  • At this moment, there is not a simple way to view data by time of day in GA4.


  • Reports – Monetization – Ecommerce purchases
  • If the report isn’t available, an admin can add it

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