What the Shift from Google Universal Analytics to GA4 Means for Your Video Streaming Business

By The Zype Team on March 15, 2023

Google will deprecate Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023, effectively sunsetting the reporting tool for millions of websites. Going forward, website owners will need to use GA4 (Google Analytics 4) instead.

But how will this change benefit video streaming businesses? 

The Shift from Google Universal Analytics to GA4

Google Universal Analytics has been the go-to reporting tool for millions of websites since 2013, enabling organizations to track and analyze the behavior of their website visitors.

In 2020, Google unveiled GA4, the latest version of its web analytics service, designed to provide a more comprehensive and intuitive approach focused on event-based data collection and machine learning.

Both analytics tools have co-existed for a few years, but that’s about to change in 2023.

According to Google, Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023. From this date, data will only flow into GA4 website properties. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to familiarize yourself with GA4.

Differences Between Universal Analytics and GA4

There are several key differences between Google Universal Analytics and GA4:

  • Data collection – Universal Analytics uses a cookie-based approach to data collection, while GA4 uses an event-based approach. This means that Universal Analytics tracks user behavior on a per-session basis, while GA4 tracks individual user actions or events.

  • User identification – Universal Analytics uses a unique "client ID" identifier to track users across multiple sessions and devices. GA4 introduces a new concept called the "user ID," which allows you to link user behavior across multiple devices and channels.

  • Reporting – Both Universal Analytics and GA4 offer a range of reports and analysis tools, but GA4 introduces several new types of reports, including "Path Analysis" and "Lifecycle reports," which provide more in-depth insights into user behavior.

  • Integration with other Google products – GA4 is fully integrated with other Google products, such as Google Ads and Google BigQuery, which allows for more seamless data integration and analysis.

  • Machine learning – GA4 includes machine learning capabilities, which can identify patterns and trends in user behavior and automatically optimize website performance.

  • User interface – GA4 introduces a new user interface and reporting platform designed to be more user-friendly and provide more in-depth insights into user behavior.

Benefits of GA4 for Video Streaming Businesses

There are several benefits of using GA4 for video streaming businesses:

Automatic Event Tracking

GA4 automatically tracks a range of events, such as video plays, pauses, and completions, which can provide valuable insights into viewer behavior and engagement.

Integrated Conversion Tracking

GA4 allows you to track conversions, such as sign-ups or purchases, across all devices and channels, which can help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Cross-device and Cross-channel Tracking

The "user ID" feature in GA4 allows you to link user behavior across multiple devices and channels, which can be especially useful for video streaming businesses that may have viewers accessing content on various devices.

Custom Events and Parameters

GA4 allows you to define custom events and parameters, which can be used to track specific actions or characteristics of your viewers. For example, you can track the type of device a viewer is using or the genre of a video they are watching.

Are You Ready for the Switch to GA4?

Due to its vast array of new options and features, the switch to GA4 for many organizations will likely require significant input. Furthermore, because all data between the two tools are not directly comparable, there is the reality that you may no longer be able to make direct year-on-year comparisons. 

With this in mind, we recommend starting to scope a migration project as soon as possible, particularly if you have many highly customized existing reports.

To help you start, Google has compiled a set of essential migration steps for GA4. Remember, you’ve only got until July 1, 2023, to change over, so there's no time to waste.

Looking to get the best ROI on your video content? Discover why innovative product teams and streaming video providers choose Zype by requesting a demo now.


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