Should You Switch To GA4 Now? What You Need To Know

Third-Party Cookies Are Going Away

As you’ve noticed, GA4 will not track third-party cookies; its focus will be on first-party cookies.

Privacy is one of the main reasons that third-party cookies are being phased out.

What is the difference between first-party cookies & third-party cookies? Why does it matter?

  • First-party cookies are cookies that track your activity on a website and have been put there by that website’s owner.
  • Third-party cookies are cookies that have been placed on a website by someone other than that site’s owner, allowing your activity to be automatically tracked by third parties.

Google is removing third-party cookies from Analytics and Chrome.

Removing third-party cookies changes what Google and other advertisers are able to track and how they collect data.

GA4 Will Change Key Metrics, Such As Bounce Rate & More

A different data collection model means that many of the metrics you’re used to can’t remain the same.

One example of a metric that’s changing is bounce rate.

Bounce rate is a percentage of sessions that end without any interaction on a page.

GA4 replaces bounce rate with engagement rate.

What Is Engagement Rate?

Engagement rate is a percentage of “engaged sessions.”

These sessions either:

  • Last longer than 10 seconds.
  • Have a conversion event.
  • Have at least two page views or screen views.

As CallRail explains in their GA4 ebook, engagement rate is not a direct inverse of bounce rate.

If you’re an agency, you’ll need to spend some time adjusting how to report to your clients about these new metrics.

How GA4’s Engagement Rate Vs. UA’s Bounce Rate Provides Better Opportunities

With change comes opportunity, especially when you have enough time to prepare.

As you’ll see in the engagement rate example below, you’re getting more helpful information than what bounce rate provides.

SEJ contributor and analytics expert Kayle Larkin argues that bounce rate is not necessarily a helpful measure of engagement or how effective pages are because it focuses on actions and not time.

For example, a user who reads an entire 2,000-word blog post and then leaves without any other actions is considered a bounce in the old model. But they were clearly engaged with the content.

By adding a time element, the engagement rate includes readers and is a better indicator of a page’s effectiveness.

It may take some time to change your reporting processes and educate clients, but you may find a lot of positive results.

Learn more about what you’ll lose and what you’ll gain from switching to GA4 with CallRail’s guide to GA4 for agencies.

Should New Site Owners Use GA4 Or UA?

If your site or your client’s site is brand new, your new account will default to GA4. You probably shouldn’t go out of your way to set up UA.

UA is going away, so it doesn’t make sense to set up two new properties.

Hit the ground running with the new technology, and don’t worry if there’s a learning curve.

You’re learning at the same time as everyone else.

Should Existing Site Owners Use GA4 Or UA?

Don’t delete your UA properties just yet! Back them up, first!

In addition to losing your data, any integrated tools will also break if you make a hard switch right now.

The good news is that you still have plenty of time to get your feet wet.

Pro Tip: Start the move sooner so that you can start collecting year-over-year data now.

Just make sure that any third-party tools you use have been updated before you take the dive. Or, if you don’t expect them to be updated in time, look for new tools.

Should Agencies Use GA4 Or UA?

For agencies and marketers, the situation is more complicated.

If you want year-over-year data for next year, you should have GA4 set up already. If you don’t, start now. The longer you leave it, the longer you’ll have to wait for that year-over-year comparison data.

But you may have to stay with UA for a while, too.

Your clients will all be doing this at a different pace. Some might not even be aware that they have to make the change. Many won’t expect significant changes to the reporting that you provide them with.

You might have multiple team members who need to learn GA4.

You’ll also need to start a data archive if you don’t have one already.

While you’re doing all this and changing your processes to account for the new types of data, you want service to your clients to remain interrupted.

You’ll need a clear project management plan for each client’s migration if you handle their analytics accounts.

Chances are you’re going to have to continue using UA alongside GA4 until it is officially retired.

How To Set Up GA4

It’s simple to set up and migrate to GA4.

How To Set Up GA4 From Scratch

Setting up a new GA4 account from scratch is simple.

It’s a matter of setting up a new Google Analytics account or a new GA4 property on an existing account.

Google’s documentation can guide you step-by-step.

How To Migrate From UA To GA4

If you’re using an existing UA account and want to upgrade it, Google created a helpful setup wizard.

CallRail provides a step-by-step guide with screenshots in their ebook, or you can use Google’s support documentation.

You’ll also find these helpful instructions in CallRail’s ebook:

Remember that you don’t have to cancel your UA and go all-in on GA4 right now. But if you want year-over-year comparison data next year, set up your GA4 accounts now.