Issues With Google Analytics 4

Change is tough. We want to resist it at all costs, especially when we like the old way or the old way is good enough. But, as with most things, especially technology, change is inevitable and like it or not, it happens. 

If you are looking up “issues with Google Analytics”, you are probably already familiar with Universal Analytics and you are not liking the changes and the missing pieces that are no longer available in the new platform.  Unfortunately, Universal Analytics will no longer be an option for you as of July 1, 2023. So, let’s get into the issues that we are seeing with the new platform. Change can be a good thing.  No need to be intimidated if you get yourself prepared for what’s to come (and is actually already here!). 

So, in light of embracing the changes, let’s look at the “issues” as small challenges that we will need to overcome to make GA4 work for us.

Here are a few of the “challenges” that we are seeing users encounter:

1. Learning Curve:

This one is obvious. With anything new, allow for a learning curve. GA4 will have a new data model and interface, as well as new terminology, data structure, and navigation within the platform, which will be unfamiliar for a new user. Be patient and allow for the time it takes your brain to understand the new look and feel of the platform. If you need extra help, Google offers Google Analytics 4 account training and support to assist. 

2. Data Backfilling:

GA4 does not support data backfilling from Universal Analytics. What does this mean to you? Data backfilling occurs after a data quality incident has resulted in bad data entering the data warehouse. It is meant to fill in missing data from the past on a new system that did not exist before, like GA4. However, since GA4 does not support data backfilling, the urgency in using GA4 before UA is no longer in use is a real concern.  If you drag your feet and only start using GA4 upon the deadline of July 1, 2023, you miss the opportunity to compare data since historical data from your previous Universal Analytics implementation cannot be transferred to GA4. If you are a company that heavily relies on historical data for analysis and reporting, it’s better to start using GA4 while you still have access to Universal Analytics.

3. Limited Integration Support:

As with any new platform, GA4 may have limited integration support compared to its predecessor Universal Analytics. You may experience issues with third-party tools, plugins, or platforms that may not have native integration with GA4 or may have limited functionality, which can impact data collection and analysis. It’s better to study how the data is coming in ahead of time so that you can make the revisions or replacements that you need to make with third-party tools, plugins, or platforms that may no longer work with the new GA4 platform while you still have your Universal Analytics data to view/compare.

4. Reporting Differences:

Take the time to study what is available for reporting and adjust accordingly.  Ask yourself the question, what do I really need to see? What is important to my day-to-day business that is no longer here and what can I use to replace it that is similar? Avoid the frustration and get creative.  There are enough similarities that you will be able to adjust and make the new reports work for you just as efficiently as the old. Things will look different, so comparing data between the two versions of analytics will help you understand how to adapt. Make adjustments to your reporting workflows and interpretations to align with the new reporting features in GA4.

5. Data Sampling:

Similar to Universal Analytics, GA4 employs data sampling when dealing with large data sets. The intent of data sampling is to draw reasonably accurate conclusions on an entire set based on a subset of data analyzed. Two reasons why data sampling can be a challenge is 1) if your selected sample size is too small, you may not get a good example of all the data, and 2) the bigger your website grows, the more inaccurate your reports will become. In short, when using this method, you simply are not seeing things as a whole.

6. Customization Limitations:

Dimensions are used to track individual parameters of events in data collected. When setting up custom events, you also need custom dimensions. GA4 has a different data model compared to Universal Analytics, which may result in limitations or changes in customization options. GA4 does allow for custom dimensions and custom metrics, but there is a limit of 25 user-scoped custom dimensions, 50 event-scoped custom dimensions, and 50 custom metrics for each property. Some advanced tracking configurations and features available in Universal Analytics may not be available or may require different implementation approaches in GA4, something different and to note as you are using the new platform.

7. E-commerce Tracking Complexity:

GA4 introduces a new approach to tracking e-commerce transactions, which may require adjustments and additional set up compared to Universal Analytics. The new tracking method in GA4 is an event-based tracking model and can be more complex for implementing and configuring e-commerce tracking for online stores. Also, you will not begin to track e-commerce until the event you create is then activated by a user on your website or app. You will need to be patient to begin seeing this data. 

Feeling a little overwhelmed and need help?

As with all new versions of a well-loved platform, patience is the key. And, as for the challenges addressed here, not to worry, Google is already actively working on improving GA4 and addressing some of these issues based on your feedback. Like anything, it’s a work in progress for both Google and you. The best advice we can give you is to stay updated with the latest developments, documentation, and resources provided by Google to help mitigate challenges and take full advantage of the capabilities of GA4.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed and need help? Or, maybe you need more questions answered first to understand how to best use GA4 for your business. We can answer your questions and help you implement a digital marketing plan. Our goal is for you to achieve optimal success and grow your business. Wherever you are on your digital marketing research endeavors, we can help! Contact us today to get in touch with an expert and find out how digital marketing can expand your business!