5 Google Analytics 4 limitations you should know about
Google Analytics 4 (GA) is the most common tool used for marketing analytics across the globe with nearly 30% of the website analytics market share—Google Global Site Tag and Google Universal Analytics also have market shares of 23.73% and 19.61%, respectively.
What’s more staggering is that 55.49% of all websites use Google Analytics to track their performance.
The popularity of Google Analytics comes down to the set of features it provides as well as its accessibility.
For instance, from insights into how many users are visiting your website each day, month, and year to how much time they spend on your website and many more, GA can track a wide variety of metrics and present them through dynamic reports based on your preferences—all for the grand total of $0.
But despite all the positive aspects of Google Analytics, it’s not the perfect web analytics tool.
Here are some major limitations of Google Analytics that can cripple your analytics processes and lead to frustration.
Lack of backwards compatibility
Google introduced Google Analytics 4 in 2020 as the new generation of Google Analytics replacing Universal Analytics. While websites have been able to use both GA4 and Universal Analytics until now, they can’t do so after 1st July 2023.
This has created a huge problem for websites that have been using Universal Analytics for years because Google has not made GA4 backward compatible. This means that once Universal Analytics is taken down, all your data is gone—forever.
Lack of backward compatibility also means that you can’t draw from past data to identify growth trends; you’ll need to start from scratch.
Non-compliance with GDPR
Since its introduction, GA4 has had issues with data protection laws in Europe—especially the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
This is mainly because Google sends GA data back to the USA, where tech companies are required to share sensitive data with the authorities. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) also invalidated the Privacy Shield framework that Google uses in GA4, complicating things further.
All this has resulted in several countries such as Italy, Denmark, France, and Austria banning GA4 outright, and more countries may follow soon. France even went as far as fining Google $150 million for non-compliance with GDPR.
So if you’re from one of these countries, you can’t legally use GA4 for marketing analytics.
Gaps in data
Google Universal Analytics used both first and third-party cookies—which are small pieces of text that websites use to remember information about users—to collect the relevant information to perform web analytics. But this came under criticism from various authorities and even consumers.
As a response, Google has moved away from using third-party cookies for data collection in GA4. While this is indeed a victory for data privacy, it has also created data gaps, which the search giant is trying to plug by leaning towards sample data artificial intelligence.
This means that you’re most likely to receive analytics reports with either inaccurate or heavily skewed data.
If you’ve ever used GA4, you probably know it’s not the most user-friendly platform out there. From setting up the platform to track activities across your website to navigating the clunky menus, it can become somewhat of a chore.
It’s also very easy to feel overwhelmed by all the data on the dashboard if you’re a beginner. Even for experienced users, sifting through vast amounts of data and finding the right insights and metrics can be a challenge.
This means that regardless of how feature-rich or well-integrated GA4 is, it can be a hassle to make it a part of your marketing exercise.
Beware of limitations before diving into Google Analytics
Although GA4 is an excellent and market-leading tool for website analytics, it still has its limitations. So it’s beneficial to understand these limitations so you can overcome them and make your marketing strategy more effective.
If you want to know how to get past these limitations, Seeda can help you. Get in touch to learn more.