Understanding Upcoming Changes to Google Analytics

June 29, 2022


Did you know that nearly 73 million websites around the world use Google Analytics as a data reporting tool? It’s easy to see why. The platform provides website owners with a basic yet comprehensive overview of performance.

However, sometimes you need more granular data. This is where programmatic reporting tools come into play. If you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while, you may have noticed some discrepancies between your data and the data shown in programmatic reports, though. 

While it can be frustrating when your numbers don’t match up, there are a few reasons why this might happen, and most of them are nothing to worry about. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over four of the most common causes of discrepancy and explain what you can do to fix them. 

By understanding where the differences come from, you can rest assured that your data is still accurate (even if it doesn’t always match up with other sources).

Understanding Upcoming Changes to Google Analytics

If you’re into data tracking and reporting then you’ll likely know Google Analytics well. This free web analytics tool helps website owners and developers collect and analyze data about their website traffic. 

However, there’s a big shift coming in the next year. On July 1st, 2023, Google will retire GA3. This forces all businesses to switch over to the new and improved GA4 Analytics which was introduced in October of 2020.

The biggest difference between GA4 and the previous versions of GA is that GA4 uses a machine learning model to generate insights, while the older versions relied on manual reports. 

This switch to machine learning means that GA4 can provide more accurate and timely insights than its predecessors. Understanding how GA4 works and how it can benefit your website is essential for any web developer or website owner.

And, it’s an important precursor to understanding any data discrepancies you might be seeing or will see in the future when compared to programmatic reporting data.

Preparing for GA4 Analytics

Preparing for GA4 Analytics is key to ensuring a successful transition from Universal Analytics. While both platforms share some similarities, there are also important differences that need to be taken into account. 

The first step is to become familiar with the new Data Hub and its capabilities. This will allow you to better understand how data is collected and processed in GA4. 

Once you have a good understanding of the Data Hub, you can begin to migrate your Universal Analytics data over to GA4. This process will require some careful planning, but it will result in more accurate and actionable data.

Make sure that your website is able to collect and store data in the new format. Second, review your data collection practices to ensure that you are collecting all of the necessary information. 

Finally, familiarize yourself with the new reports and tools that will be available in GA4 Analytics. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you are prepared for the GA4 Analytics update and that your data is ready for the change.

How Does GA4 Change Analytics Reporting?

Ultimately, the switch is actually beneficial for anybody who relies heavily on data. This means that, if you’re currently seeing discrepancies between your Google Analytics data and programmatic reporting data, switching over to GA4 could potentially resolve those issues.

GA4 changes how analytics reporting is done by altering the way data is collected and processed. 

How this impacts you as an analyst depends on the features you use most and whether or not your team has made the switch. The biggest changes with GA4 are: 

  • Sessions are now calculated based on engaged users rather than pageviews
  • Bounced sessions are no longer counted as interactions
  • Events are tracked more accurately
  • Data is processed in near real-time
  • User ID tracking is done automatically
  • Custom dimensions and metrics can be set up to track anything you want

Overall, these changes should make it easier to get accurate data that tells you what people are actually doing on your site or app. 

If you’re used to working with the old system, there may be a learning curve as you get used to the new features. But once you’re familiar with GA4, you’ll be able to take advantage of its many benefits.

What Is Programmatic Reporting?

Programmatic reporting is a way of automating the process of generating reports. This can be done using a programming language such as Python or R, or by using a tool such as Tableau. 

Most businesses use programmatic reporting to generate reports on a regular basis or to generate ad-hoc reports in response to changes in data. 

However, where it really comes in handy is in the ability to generate reports that are not possible to generate using traditional methods. 

For example, programmatic reporting can be used to generate reports that show the change in data over time or to compare data from different sources.

Ultimately, this makes programmatic reporting a powerful way of working with data. If a business relies heavily on complex data, it can make the process of generating reports more efficient and more accurate.

Is Programmatic Reporting Better Than Google Analytics?

While there are many opinions on the matter, the answer may depend on what you’re looking for in a reporting system. 

If you need granular, real-time data, then programmatic reporting may be the better option. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for general trends and don’t need to track every single user action, then Google Analytics may be sufficient. 

Ultimately, while Google Analytics is a powerful tool, programmatic reporting can offer some advantages. For example, programmatic reporting can provide insights about website visitors that Google Analytics cannot, such as where they came from and what they did on the site. 

In addition, programmatic reporting can be used to track multiple websites at once, making it easier to compare data across sites. As programmatic reporting becomes more popular, it is likely that it will start to replace Google Analytics as the go-to tool for web analytics.

Ultimately, the decision of which reporting system to use comes down to your specific needs and goals. And don’t forget that you can obviously use both.

If that’s the case, however, then you might be confused as to why data looks different on Google Analytics than it does when using programmatic reporting tools. Here’s why (and what you can do about it). https://punchdrunkdigital.com/inside-the-ring/googleanalyticsreportingdiscrepancies