I've always wondered why the GA logo had orange in it. Now, I think it's symbolic of hell. Google Analytics is used for tracking website traffic and user behavior, and it has been widely used by marketers and businesses for over a decade. However, Google's recent update to its analytics platform, known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4), has received some negative reviews from users and marketers, some summarizing the rollout as 'hell, for marketers'.
GA4 has some problems
Here are some of the reasons why the GA4 update is the thumbs down from marketers:
Data has been LOST; not gained
GA4 presents an entirely different data model compared to the UA analytic model which creates discrepancies between past and new data. Now, measurements are based on 'Events', and skip out on average session duration, and measure bounce rate completely differently - they call it 'engaged sessions'.
Why Google? Why?
Well, writing this blog I did look into it. Apparently, GA UA was deemed unlawful in the EU, so Google was forced into moving to GA4, stat.
Measurements are strangely less specific than the last. Previously, we could see exactly how long the user was 'engaged', and now this weird 'engaged session' metric reports sessions that last 10 secs or longer... or 2 or more page views... it's just... inconsistent.
How are we meant to compare old data to new with metric changes like these ones? The data models from UA and GA4 are different. And now, we're explaining data loss to clients.
The only business I know that stomachs loss of information like this, is Optus.
(If you're not in Australia you may not get the Optus joke, sorry).
Looking for Page View? It's now an 'Event'. Looking for social data? It's now an 'Event', transaction data? It's an 'Event'. Why is everything an event? You can name your events, but many are calling how to do this Google's greatest 'nonevent'.
GA4 has been a highly publicized event that's failed to satisfy expectations. One poster in a GA forum writes, 'GA4 reporting is a dumpster fire that will kill [us] all.'
Google's constantly demanding we improve our user experiences, while it's pulled the rug out on its own.
Digital marketers are considering other reporting platforms, rather than sticking with GA.
Of course, if you aren't into the likes of 'bounce rate', measurement changes are not such a biggy, right?
Oh but... standard reporting has been removed, too.
Traffic Acquisition Reports Are Gone
Yes, you may like to do your reports in other platforms instead, because the new interface is strangely not acquisition report friendly. In fact, there were 30 beautiful and useful acquisition reporting templates you could tailor that are gone.
Differences in reporting is impacting our campaigns.
Users have reported that the GA4 update is not easily integrated with other Google marketing tools, such as Google Ads and Google Tag Manager. This is critical for the success of marketing campaigns.
How can it not be Easily integrated with Google's own products?
What gives, Google?
This user says, 'I have worked in GA for almost 15 years, and I can say I am frustrated. I can only hope Google has some serious plans for updates...'
Marketers are building their reporting infrastructure into the likes of Pendo and Looker studio instead. The new GA4 does come with a free integration to Google BigQuery, which is an enterprise level data warehouse that can devour all your data across multiple mediums and somehow turn it into machine learning.
Dare I say, there's forward thinking in that offering.
But in the meantime, if we're setting up all our own reports from scratch, and dealing with the discrepancies. Who got time for that?
Who Got Time For That?
There are templates in other platforms like Looker Studio that may be a solution for your business. But, depending on the number of clients you have, do you have time to migrate them across, change-manage their unique needs and tailor it all into a new reporting program?
Speaking of time, there are complaints around a 24-48 hour data lag.
Lack Of Support & official how-to guides
The GA4 update is still relatively new, and some users have reported a lack of support and documentation to help them navigate the new interface and features.
So, while the GA4 update has some new features, negative reviews appear to be stemming from very experienced digital marketers, and business owners alike.
If you hear otherwise, they may be trying to sell you a course on it.