News: One Year of GA4: The Good and the Bad

One Year of GA4: The Good and the Bad

Jack Ogston 3rd of July 2024

On July 1st 2024, Google Analytics 4 properties fully replaced Universal Analytics properties, as previously announced by Google.

This latest iteration of Google Analytics was designed to address the changing landscape of digital analytics, providing more flexibility and insights for marketers and analysts. While it has brought some really cool new features, it’s not all been smooth sailing. We take a look at the good and the bad, one year in.

User Interface

The good: The new, customisable dashboard and reporting features are really cool. They have enabled us to tailor the interface to focus on the metrics and dimensions that are most relevant to each client. From my own perspective, I found this mega useful in helping clients to navigate the dashboard and familiarise themselves with GA4.

The real-time report allows users to monitor activity on their site or app as it happens. This has been really useful for our team in troubleshooting issues with tracking and monitoring the effect of new site and campaign launches.

The bad: Many of our clients found the transition from UA to GA4 particularly challenging due to the change in the interface and terminology. We too found this challenging during the early stages as we struggled to navigate around the new arrangement of reports. Many users also found it difficult to locate reports that were easily accessible in UA.

Setting dates and reporting is particularly frustrating and doesn’t seem to mirror how SEOs or digital marketers report on performance. It defaults to last 28 days. Your other choices are last 30 days, last 90 days and last 12 months. Really what I’d like to see here is last month, quarter to date and previous quarter.

Key Events

The good: GA4 uses an event-based model where every interaction is recorded as an event. This allows for more granular and detailed tracking of user interactions on websites and apps. There’s basic events like page views and key events (conversions) like form submissions, sign ups, and purchases. Through a combination of the GA4 events interface and Google Tag Manager, we’ve managed to set up some really powerful tracking for clients.

The bad: Admittedly, setting up custom events and parameters can be complex, especially for users who are new to GA4 or lack technical expertise. Understanding how to structure and implement events effectively requires a learning curve.

GA4 allows for no-code event setup, more advanced or custom events often require technical knowledge and the ability to modify website or app code. This can be a barrier for non-technical users.

Data Privacy and Consent Mode

Consent Mode, from Google, is a feature that helps manage what tracking occurs when consent is and is not granted from the user. Consent Mode dynamically adjusts the behaviour of GA4 tags based on user consent preferences. For instance, if a user does not consent to analytics cookies, GA4 will collect only anonymous data without setting cookies. This ensures that data collection practices align with user consent.

The good: The tags adjust to capture data with or without cookies, depending on the consent status. When users provide consent, full functionality is enabled, including the use of cookies for tracking. Without consent, basic interactions are still recorded, but without persistent identifiers. By honouring user consent choices, businesses can build trust with their users. Users are more likely to engage with websites and apps that clearly communicate and respect their privacy preferences.

The bad: But there’s a caveat. To be eligible for behavioural modelling, your property must meet a set of criteria. We’re now starting to see gaps in traffic, much to the frustration of our clients (and us).


The good: The advertising reports are pretty cool in showing users interact with sites across various devices and platform. I particularly like the Advertising Snapshot, Insights and the addition of the new Google Ads report.

The bad: While GA4 provides powerful tools, there is often a lack of clear guidance or tutorials directly within the interface to help users understand how to utilise these tools effectively. That’s true of the Advertising tab. Google tells us the reports in this section have been designed to help you “better understand the ROI of your media spend across all channels, make informed decisions about budget allocation, and evaluate attribution models”. While the Advertising Snapshot is fairly easy to follow, it’s difficult for users to understand how credit is being assigned to different touch points leading to mistrust in the data.

Although GA4 is designed to handle cross-device tracking, discrepancies can arise if user IDs or Google signals are not consistently applied across all user interactions. This can lead to incomplete user journeys and inaccurate attribution. Attribution can become unreliable when tracking user interactions across different platforms (e.g., web and app). Differences in tracking implementations and data collection methods can result in gaps or overlaps in data too.

Getting started with Google Analytics 4

Our SEO and marketing team have worked with GA4 since it’s inception and understand how to use it to get the most out of your data.

We’re delighted to be able to offer both new and existing clients a comprehensive GA4 support package. This includes custom report and dashboard setup, event, purchase and booking tracking, integration with platforms such as Google Ads and SuperControl, campaign tracking and more.

Looking for support with GA4? Get in touch with our Business Development Team and book a discovery call.

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