As Universal Analytics is preparing to sunset on 1st July 2023, users are encouraged to begin setting up parallel tracking between their Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties.

Switching software always comes with a set of challenges. And one of the many challenges users may be faced with when switching to GA4 is adapting the old event structure to the new.

With the new event structure, users benefit from a flexible framework of up to 25 event parameters with each event and up to 500 individual events.

However, the downside of this flexible framework is the uncertainty behind the event naming convention that accurately fits the user’s needs.

Below, we show you how to renew your measurement strategy and successfully migrate your Universal Analytics properties to Google Analytics 4 properties.

Why is Google Favouring GA4?

For a more detailed look at why Google has launched GA4 and is phasing Universal Analytics out, make sure you read our blog post on the topic...

But, in short, GA4 has the capabilities to operate across the web and app, it does not rely solely on cookies, and operates on an event-based model in order to deliver user-centric measurement.

From July 1st, 2023, all standard Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits (GA360 properties will be given a further 3 months). So, from July 2023, no website activity will be recorded on Universal Analytics.

On top of this, Universal Analytics properties will only be accessible for around 6 months after July 2023, meaning that all your historical data could be lost forever.

What Are the New Google Analytics 4 Events?

Previously, Universal Analytics events involved a category, action, label, and value.

However, in Google Analytics 4, users must attribute a name to each event, which can carry up to 25 parameters. Parameters are additional pieces of information that describe the event.

The ideal starting point would be to map either the Event Category or the Event Action to the Event Name and to convert the event label and any custom definitions into parameters.

Instead of using a structure reminiscent of Universal Analytics (event_action, event_label, and event_value), it would be more appropriate to replace the parameter names with more specific ones.

A great approach would be to use a precise event name by upgrading the user action to the event name itself.

This method deviates from the Universal Analytics model and takes full advantage of the flexibility introduced by Google Analytics 4 events.

What Are the Benefits of GA4 Events?

The reason why this is a better naming convention is that having a single event to describe a broad range of possible user interactions could be limiting.

For instance, when a user clicks the play button, the event 'videos' is registered. Furthermore, when a user clicks the pause button, the same event will be registered.

The end goal is to have our event structure clearly illustrate the event that occurred.

While many dimensions and metrics share the same names (Default Channel Grouping, Source, Medium), some have been replaced. What used to be 'Bounce Rate' is now 'Engagement Rate' and 'Page Path' is now 'Page Path + Query String'.

The metric associated with Engagement Rate is the percentage of engaged sessions. Engaged Sessions is the number of sessions longer than 10 seconds, included a conversion event, or had a minimum of 2 page views.

How Do Google Analytics 4 Events Differ from Universal Analytics?

Other notable differences in GA4 include 'Users' becoming 'Total Users', 'Pageview' is now 'Views' and 'Full Referrer' has become 'Page Referrer'.

Pageviews, which used to be one of the fundamental metrics of Universal Analytics, is no longer a driving force of Google Analytics.

With the rise of mobile apps, single-page websites, and new eCommerce websites, aiming to group pageviews into sessions is not practical anymore.

In Google Analytics 4, pageviews are mostly seen as just another event in the user journey that may also include interactions with mobile apps.

Final Thoughts

Although Google Analytics 4 will cause confusion at first, it will certainly improve your understanding of the analytics and metrics already in place.

Luckily, there is still enough time to determine how you want to implement it for your business, according to measurement events that are important to you throughout the customer journey.

With both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 running simultaneously, you can compare and contrast the two data collection models and map out key events that are important for your business.

For a complete list of Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 dimensions and metrics equivalences, visit Google's Developer Migration Centre...