Why GA4 is a better tool than Universal Analytics (part 1), and why people hate GA4


People tend to resist change and prefer sticking to their familiar workflows. When something new is introduced, they often criticize it instead of evaluating what went wrong. One example of this is the criticism Apple faced before the launch of the iPhone 12 mini. Apple fans criticized the creation of an overly large phone, but the sales of the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini prove that the market does not favor smaller phones. This resistance to change is known as nostalgic bias.

Similarly, when Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was launched, people were flooded with data, bringing up old problems from Universal Analytics. However, these problems are being evaluated and addressed in GA4.

The Reality of Analytics Tools

Analytics tools are like our perception of crime rates. We may feel that crime is increasing, but it could be because we are more aware of the data. Similarly, with the launch of GA4, people are exposed to more data, and old problems from Universal Analytics resurface. However, this allows us to evaluate and improve upon these issues in GA4.

For example, people frequently ask for industry benchmarks for bounce rates and conversion rates. However, these benchmarks do not matter in most cases, what’s important is how we optimise against these metrics.

What is the Right Expectation for Analytics?

GA4 is designed to provide quick insights for decision making. It helps with decisions such as marketing budget allocation, designing the next product, understanding user struggles, identifying products to promote, understanding potentials, and objectively measuring user intentions.

GA4 allows us to verify the impact of our actions before and after implementation. It is not about spending six months to verify our actions with a 99.99% significance level. Instead, GA4 allows us to verify our actions within two weeks with a 95% significance level. It may not provide marginal accuracy, but it serves as a “good enough” next step.

Analytics is meant for taking action, not just for having nice-to-have data. We cannot always control precisely what we want, so we start with a question. We track all data points that potentially provide insights and gradually remove noise, distill, filter, and find concise insights that help us make our next step. Many people treat analytics tools as consumer products, but they serve only one purpose: finding the insights needed to improve our business step-by-step.

What GA4 is Not Meant For

GA4 is not meant to be your product revenue forecast.

The tool will never provide accurate data, no matter how much effort you invest in keeping the data clean. Even with significant investments, you might only achieve up to 99% accuracy, which is a marginal improvement considering the high cost.

It is also not meant to be your “source of truth.” “Source of truth” is a misleading, exaggerated sales term used to promote GA4. The truth is that GA4, like any other analytics tool, will never be the ultimate source of truth. Instead, it serves as a source of insights. While this may not sound as exciting, it is the realistic way to view the tool.

Your CRM is your true source of truth.

As analytics tools cannot validate or verify the information they receive. They only accept data without rejecting or authenticating it. There is little to no way to secure the data collection process, and Google has no plans to provide that level of security. They are developing a product for everyone.

GA4 is not a place to have all the answers ready. Clients often pay analysts to ask questions they haven’t considered before and to provide answers they never thought possible. The true beauty of analytics lies not in how cool, sexy, hard, or complex an analysis is, but in helping us find the right questions to ask and providing good enough answers to those questions. You may wonder how this is possible, well, you are on the right track.

To be continue..

This concludes part 1 of the article on why GA4 is a better tool than Universal Analytics and why people may dislike GA4. Stay tuned for part 2, which will delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of GA4.