Google Analytics 4 – Everything you need to know

Digital marketers — are you ready for the next generation of analytics? Google is retiring Universal Analytics on July 1 this year, and replacing it with Google Analytics 4. You’ve only got a few months until the big switch, and you want to stay on top of understanding your data.

From July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop counting new hits, but luckily, Google is making it straightforward to transition to GA4. Even after you switch, you’ll have access to your UA data for at least six months.

GA 4 — what’s the difference?

Launched in December 2020, GA4 isn’t an upgrade, but an entirely new web analytics model that can measure both app and website performance. The biggest industry shift is towards greater privacy, so it’s designed to work without cookies. You will now need a new set of strategies to target and reach your online audience.

Page views will no longer be the most important metric, and GA4 features technically advanced reporting types, aiming to get high quality information from your users, for a deeper understanding of their behaviours. This will influence your content choices and hopefully lead to increased profit margins. As the curtains close on traditional Universal Analytics, marketers now need to take a deep dive with GA4, before it replaces UA as the default when creating a Google Analytics account.

Universal analytics VS GA4 Analytics

How does GA4 work?

GA4 can be divided into 3 very specific but complementary sections — measuring, reporting analysing and event tracking.


After creating an account, you can implement a snippet of JavaScript code to your website via either Global Site Tag or by Google Tag Manager. This code will be the glue that connects GA4 to your website, and once this is in place, data will begin to flow from one to the other. Information such as geographical location, the pages users spend the most time on, clicking behaviours and more will be transmitted into measurable data. One major benefit is that you can monitor real-time activity on your website.


In GA4, the functionality and the interface of the reporting dashboards have been radically changed. While UA offers predefined reports, GA4 provides fewer reports, but you can create your own reports that are tailored to your digital marketing needs.

You will be able to access your UA user reports and acquisition reports in GA4 for six months after UA is shut down, and GA4 also features the following reports:

Behaviour reports

Website pages and app screens into one reporting area called Pages and screens.

Conversion reports

The valuable actions called Goals in UA are called Conversions in GA4. Tracking goals in GA4 is based on events, e.g. button clicks, user actions, video plays, exit link clicks.

eCommerce reports

Like in UA, you can track how successful your campaigns, channels, keywords, email and locations have been.

Multichannel funnel reports

View paths from different channel journeys that lead to a conversion.


GA4’s Exploration section has advanced techniques that go beyond standard reports — to help you uncover deeper insights about your customers’ behaviour.

This includes complex visualisation options in the Analysis Hub, such as:

  • Cohort analysis: Gain insights from the behaviour and performance of groups of users related by common attributes.
  • Funnel analysis: Funnel exploration lets you visualise the steps your users take to complete a task and quickly see how well they succeed or fail at each step.
  • Path analysis: Visualise your users’ paths as they interact with your website and app.

Event tracking

In contrast to UA, GA4  is event-based, meaning that any interaction on the website can be measured through an event for example a pageview or downloading a file will now be events rather than hits in UA.

Event-modelling — based on behaviour of similar users — will be used to bridge the gap that Google’s consent mode has created, whereby a user’s behaviour is not tracked if cookies are not accepted.

Events need to be tracked with GA4 and Tag Manager. There are four categories of events.

  • Automatically collected events — GA4 by default automatically tracks a huge number of events (full list here)
  • Enhanced Measurement events which are automatically collected when Enhanced Measurement is turned on (full list here)
  • Recommended events that need to be manually configured such as add_to_cart, purchases or sign_up (full list here) based on your vertical
  • Custom events that you would like to track on your website that are not part of the events mentioned above such as newsletter_signup.
Digital marketing team Matrix
Picture: Bríd O’Donovan

Matrix Internet — your GA4 transition partner

The Matrix Internet Digital Marketing team haven’t left the big GA4 switch to the last minute. We’ve been harnessing the power of GA4 for many of our clients since its launch, and we can help you enter this new phase.

We have four bespoke GA4 packages that can be tailored to your digital marketing needs.

Steps to setup your GA4 account

Don’t leave it too near the deadline — let us know how Matrix can help you set up GA4, and make sense of your data. Our DM team also offers GA4 support training, so you don’t get left behind.

Fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.

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