Google Analytics 4 is rather new. As with any other change in technology, it is subject to resistance and objections. You probably have heard or even experienced them. Jeff, founder of Data Driven U, examined 10. You can steal his arguments to reassure your organization, or clients, that GA4 is not as bad as it may look at first sight.
Click on an objection to read Jeff’s expert opinion.
Below the video, you can find a written summary of the major objections to GA4.
What’s the fuss about Google Analytics 4?
On the 1st of July 2023, Google will stop collecting data for Universal Google Analytics, which will be replaced with Google Analytics 4 and you can learn more about Google's motivations for the change here.
Before this deadline, you can switch to GA4 and use both analytics versions together. And yet, many organizations are reluctant to do so.
Why is that?
Let’s have a look at some widespread objections to GA4.
#1 – Google Analytics 4 is useless without report X
This objection to GA4 is widely popular in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry.
It’s indeed a huge bummer that e.g. the landing page report and bounce rate metrics are missing. They are important to understand the performance of your website in search engines.
True, you can add Google Search Console reports to GA4 to fill in blanks, but that’s not the point.
What else can you do about missing features in GA4?
- Let your voice be heard. When we shout out loud together, Google may listen.
- Wait. Missing reports and metrics in GA4 may be added in a matter of time.
It may not be visible yet, or soon, but these reports will be implemented retroactively so you want to start collecting the data now.
Do your organization a favor and think ahead. Even if that means you are right and Google did all of us wrong.
#2 – GA4 is too confusing
GA4 causes confusion.
But wasn’t this the case too when you first opened Universal Google Analytics? You forgot this, didn’t you?
To get over the confusion, you have two options:
- postpone switching to GA4 and, with it, the confusion
- get used to the GA4 interface. Today.
The second option is smarter for your organization.
When you deliver data or SEO services to clients, they will be grateful when you inform them in advance. Proactively thinking is the proper way to grow together with your customers.
#3 – GA4 and Google Analytics data are different (GA4 is inaccurate)
Data in Google Analytics Universal is not accurate either.
What? I have been taking decisions on flawed data?
But that’s true for any web analytics platform. It's never 100% accurate.
- Ad blockers, antivirus programs and certain browsers block tracking
- Mobile users may close a website before it fully loads
- A thank you page may be closed before it's registered as a conversion
- And so on
Data tracking was never meant to be perfectly accurate. You must realize this and then live with it.
Besides, GA4 and GA Universal rely on other techniques to fill in your account with data.
- Google Analytics Universal is based on page views. A session is based on hit types and calculated between two hits.
- GA4 tracking is based on events, things that happen on a page. It doesn’t rely on different hit types in order to determine sessions.
No analytic tool is perfect, but GA4 is a bit closer to reliable data tracking.
Google focussed for two years on the back end and ignored the front end. They probably did so to later on sell an enterprise version of its analytics platform.
For now, we can only hope that Google will improve the front end and load data faster. Let this not be a reason for you to postpone the implementation of GA4.
Server side tagging is an interesting path to deal with privacy related concerns, but it requires a heavier investment of resources than using GA4.
There is some good news though. Google Analytics 4 will work without cookies and it will probably be harder for Google to define unique users, but they are working on a solution.
Google’s machine learning power will probably stitch it together for you. Let’s not forget that Google has tons of web analytics data to train their AI algorithms. They will probably fill in the gaps caused by blocked cookies.
And if you're still confused about cookies, I explain everything you need to know about 1st vs 3rd party cookies here.
#6 – GA4 is a clean slate
When you install GA4, there is no data in your account. You have to start collecting it from scratch.
Sales and marketing departments heavily rely on dashboards and reports to compare current business metrics with the past. That’s impossible if there is no data.
The smartest thing you can do:
- Install GA4 so it starts collecting data ASAP
- Use Universal GA as a side-by-side dataset
#7 – GA4 is a trick to make us spend more on ads
Ads are the main income stream of Google. GA4 doesn’t change that. The price you pay for GA being a free tool, is a choice only you can make.
You can use the analytics tool, or not. It doesn’t force you to spend money on ads.
#8 – GA4 is not intuitive or clearly documented
Certain features, such as events and on site search are hardly described. It makes switching to the new Google analytics version harder.
At Data Driven U, we try to bridge the gap and inform our readers with clear manuals and expert background information on GA4.
When you become an early GA4 adopter, you can stay ahead of your competitors. But, you will face struggles that users who jump aboard later on may not encounter.
#9 – E-commerce tracking is messy in GA4
At the moment of writing, Google Analytics 4 is a tool that is clearly not ready for e-commerce analytics. It’s advisable to keep using the Universals version and at the same time, implement GA4 to start collecting data.
E-commerce reports will be added, but that may require some patience from you.
#10 – Views in GA4 are lacking (and difficult to use without 360 sub-properties)
In GA Universals, views were often misused and a colossal waste of resources for most people.
In GA4, you can change the interface and show views to certain users. This sort of replaces the need for views. You can choose which metrics users can see and filter out a lot of stuff and fluff.
The GA4 debugger is a real asset. Live debugging your analytics without having to worry about blocking data reduces the need for filters.
Google Analytics 360 will contain views, but it remains a mystery if that will be the case for GA4.
Conclusion: how to deal with objections to GA4?
Google analytics 4 is not perfect. But it will replace Google Analytics Universals completely. The best you can do is to implement it now.
This will give you, your team, or clients the time to get used to the new interface.
A much bigger advantage is that you will start collecting data in GA4. Remember that it starts with a blank slate. The sooner Google fills it in, the better for your organization or clients.
Some reports are not available in GA4 now, such as e-commerce reports. It may take some time, but in the end, they will appear in your account.
Complaining doesn’t help you forward. That doesn’t mean you cannot have concerns or objections.
I hope Jeff’s arguments will help you overcome objections to GA4 and make the transition to Google Analytics 4 happen faster in your organization or for your clients.
If you want to do it the right way, you can download our free GA4 migration guide.
PS: special thanks
A special thanks to Susan, George, Kellsey, Hunter, Georg, Anita, Steven, Önder, Buster and all our readers for sharing their objections to Google Analytics 4 with us.
A special thanks to you too, dear reader, for being here. On behalf of all of us, good luck with selling GA4 to your organization or clients!