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Google Analytics is the market leader in online analytics (GA). It's possible that it isn't so "universal" after all.

Users of Google Analytics have pointed up a number of serious flaws throughout the years. In Google Analytics 4, a few of them are more noticeable.

The advent of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2020 has been received with scepticism. As Google Universal Analytics (UA) approaches its end-of-life date on July 1, 2023, frustration builds.

Before you use Google Analytics, you should be aware of its limitations.

Google Analytics 4 is marketed as a more privacy-conscious, comprehensive, and "intelligent" web analytics tool.

According to Google, the most recent version now includes:

  • Machine learning, at its most basic level, provides for more exact segmentation and faster access to comprehensive information.
  • Privacy-by-design measures address cookie limits as well as other regulatory needs.
  • Customers' journeys will be better understood across several channels and devices.
  • Some of these claims are accurate. As the probe gets deeper, others start to dissolve.

Even while new features like "predictive insights," "custom events," and "privacy consent mode" have recently been added to Google Analytics, they are only marginally improved.

Many other users are irritated with GA4's poor user interface, hard setup, and lack of migration assistance.

You must be aware of all current and past Google Analytics restrictions.

There will be no past data imports

Google pushed customers to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 as soon as feasible. However, they overlooked an important consideration: compatibility with older devices.

Google Universal Analytics data cannot be transferred to Google Analytics 4.

Historical data is essential for analysing growth trends and defining benchmarks for future marketing campaigns. That implies you'll have to start over from the beginning, without any of your past knowledge.

Google currently offers two mediocre options:

Collect data in parallel and report it separately for GA4 and UA until UA is turned down. Your UA records will be completely erased.
In order to understand the new names and parameters of the events for Ecommerce data, it is required to manually replicate events from UA to the new GA4 property.

Google's new data collection approach is causing migration issues.

In Google Analytics 4, all types of analytics hits, such as page views, social media views, app/screen views, and more, are now logged as events. The "event" parameter in GA4 differs from the "event" parameter in Google Universal Analytics:

As a result, the migration procedure has grown more challenging, and Google only offers limited assistance in setting up proper events and custom dimensions.

Limitations in data collection

If you've worked out the new GA4 events, congrats! Although there is still much more work to be done, you did an outstanding job.

New Google Analytics data collection constraints for event parameters and user characteristics must still be considered.

These can be used for the following:

  • Automated events are those that are gathered on a regular basis.
  • Events that are more precise in terms of measurement
  • Recommendations for events in the near future
  • Events that are completely unique to you
  • In GA4, there is also a 25-parameter restriction per custom event. Larger websites, on the other hand, may not be able to employ all of it.

The cost of upgrading to Google Analytics 360, on the other hand, is prohibitively expensive for most firms.

The scope Of GDPR compliance is limited

The history of Google Analytics and GDPR compliance in Europe is complicated.

In 2020, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) determined that Google's Privacy Shield framework was unconstitutional. This framework governed data transfers, including personally identifiable information of EU and US clients.

Google was hit with a slew of privacy-related fines as a result of the closure of this loophole:

"The transfers to the United States of personal data gathered through Google Analytics are forbidden," according to the CNIL's judgement, and they proceeded to fine Google €150 million at the start of 2022.
In Austria, regulators found Google in violation of the GDPR and declared their analytics to be illegal.

Similar decisions could be made in the near future by other EU member states. As a result, Google Analytics users may face brand damage and regulatory fines if they do not comply. Although companies cannot choose where their analytics data is housed, they can obtain this information from Google.

You might wish to use a web analytics solution that allows you to store your data on your own servers or in specific Cloud locations if you want to keep your data on your own servers or in certain Cloud areas.

Similarly, Google's cookie consent policy is loose, and customers are not sufficiently informed about data collection, storage, or subsequent use. This issue has been resolved to some extent in Google Analytics 4.

GA4 uses first-party cookies by default rather than third-party cookies, which is a huge improvement. However, establishing user privacy measures without compromising the majority of the GA4's capabilities is tough. Setting up the user's consent mode for various types of data collection takes time as well.

Limited samples

Because third-party cookies are no longer used, GA4 depends more largely on sampling data and machine learning to fill in the reporting gaps.

In GA4, sampling is performed automatically when:

  • Perform advanced analysis with minimal data, such as cohort analysis, exploration, segment overlap, or funnel analysis.
  • With over 10,000,000 rows of data and the capacity to create any non-standard report type, we've got you covered.
  • According to Google's statement, data sampling can also happen at lower levels if you're trying to get more granular insights. There isn't enough data, or Google thinks it's too tough to find.

When you employ data sampling, it's hard to be 100 percent confident that your data is accurate. The departure from reality is influenced by the size and quality of the sampled data. There's nothing you can do in this instance, either.

In comparison to Google Analytics 4, Matomo has no data sampling. Your reports are always accurate and based entirely on real-world user behaviour.

Data anonymisation isn't done properly

Without anonymization, PII (personally identifiable information) such as geolocation, tracking ID assignment, and other cookie-based data can be acquired, allowing you to collect basic statistics on users (visits, clicks, page views).

You were no longer capable of doing so as a result of this. Even if people deny or ignore your requests for their information, you'll still gain some useful information.

Google Analytics 4 is an upgrade from UA that automatically anonymizes all user IP addresses. Nonetheless, each user was assigned a distinct ID. These are considered personal information under the GDPR.

Matomo, on the other hand, features a broader set of privacy controls. You have the option of keeping your true identity hidden:

Previously logged raw data IP addresses of visitors who have visited your site a site description Identifiers for each user

This can assist preserve compliance — and gratify privacy-conscious customers! — even in highly regulated areas.

In the future, there will be no roll-up reporting

When you need to rapidly access to the most popular sites, such as international traffic volume or the proportion of recurrent visitors, you may see all of your statistics at a high level.

You can utilise Roll-Up Reporting to gain a global view of the performance of all your localised properties. You can zoom in on certain localised places as needed.

Latency of Matomo Report Processing

The average processing time for Google Analytics is 24-48 hours.

Only once every 24 hours are accounts with more than 200,000 daily sessions updated with new data. This means you won't have access to the most up-to-date information on crucial KPIs. This is especially aggravating if you're buying on a single day, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and you're missing out on critical real-time information.

Matomo's low latency data processing can benefit even high-traffic websites. While deploying to the cloud, there is currently a six to twenty-four-hour wait. On-premises web analytics can be refreshed within an hour or even instantly, depending on traffic volume.

There are no built-in conversion optimisation options

In Google Analytics, third-party solutions are required for deeper insights such as how users interact with your webpage or call-to-action.

The Google Optimize tool is available to use for free, but there are some limitations:

There is no way to segment the data

Experiments were limited to a total of ten running at any given time.
There is no direct link between Google Analytics 4 and Google Optimize. You must manually link an analytics account to an Optimize Container in order to use Optimize Containers. You can't choose experiment dimensions in Google Analytics reports.

Furthermore, Google Optimize is a straightforward CRO tool that is well-suited for split testing (A/B testing) of copy, visuals, URLs, and page layouts, as well as a straightforward CRO plan. If you want more advanced data, you'll need additional software.

Matomo has a number of conversion optimisation tools:

  • Heatmaps are used to record a user's session
  • The sales funnel is examined
  • Differential and comparative testing
  • Form submission statistics
  • A/B hypothesis testing in Matomo

When you need to provide additional context to other team members, annotations come in helpful. Show an abnormal traffic surge or a leak in the sales funnel, for example.

This feature was included in Universal Analytics prior to Google Analytics 4. Matomo, on the other hand, enables you to collect, annotate, and share data with your team in real time.

Graphs that can be annotated include visitor data, funnel analysis charts, and A/B testing.

There is no option for white labelling

Although Google Analytics has a minor shortcoming, it is a serious issue for agency owners.

By delivering an on-brand, embedded web analytics system, you may improve your customers' experience. In contrast to Matomo, Google Analytics has never supplied white label analytics.

The end is nigh

Google has set the bar quite high when it comes to web analytics. Because of Google Analytics' privacy, reporting, and implementation constraints, more people are turning to Matomo as an alternative.