Google Analytics: A Closer Examination of Issues with the Current State


Google Analytics’ Universal Analytics is one of the most popular analytics tools for business owners and marketers. It’s free, easy to use, and widely available. But this tool was made when websites were brochures with text—simple places without any depth or sophistication. Google Analytics was built to measure page views and website visits. We cannot process PII data with GA because it can’t do so; thus, we cannot determine how much value a specific user has for our company’s goals or product offerings.

The current state of web analytics

Analytics tools nowadays are much more nuanced and sophisticated. When websites were simple brochures, Google Analytics was a functional tool for data collection. However, it is now outdated in the modern advertising world of eCommerce marketing, where customer journeys can be measured with precision across platforms and every user event.

Many web analytics from the early 2000s were built to analyze marketing spend and were never meant for the depth of a customer journey. Likewise, GA was never meant to accommodate the sophistication of a modern customer journey.

Most modern analytics tools track raw user events, whereas google analytics is limited to monitoring user sessions and page views, all based on hits.

It is also important to understand that many companies care about the ownership of data. Also, the platform’s integration with the data warehouse is important. 

Many legacy web analytics tools weren’t designed to integrate the data with another database. Most modern web analytics tools are designed to be integrated with data warehouses so marketers can use BI tools like Tableau to visualize and dig deep into data for insights.

Disadvantages and problems with the current state of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is limited in what it can do, and events must be specifically defined ahead of time. Even then, GA cannot process PII data (personally identifiable information), which means that users cannot determine their value by Google Analytics. However, there are alternatives- for example, Mixpanel, Amplitude, Heap, etc.

Constraints around the number of custom dimensions you can define on Google Analytics’ Universal Analytics are limitations for any user trying to track more than basic data.

The limitations around the reporting features are a limitation for marketers and all users of the tool. Most modern analytics tools provide marketers with advanced query features, deep diving in the data to find insights.

Modern analytics tools work well for marketers and product managers or anyone looking to track and analyze the customer journey across platforms. In contrast, google analytics can only measure simple page metrics and defined user paths.

Most of these issues are with Universal Analytics. Recently, Google Analytics 4 was launched, but its adoption is still in the early phase. A lot of the Google Analytics 4 was designed by mimicking many of the modern product analytics tools.

I believe the current issue with Google Analytics is getting many marketers to adjust to the new ways of looking at web analytics. It might be common for product managers who have been using tools like Heap, Mixpanel, and Amplitude.

The new normal for web analytics has started. Users who don’t like Google Analytics 4 can quickly try a Heap, Mixpanel, or Amplitude platform.

Why should marketers care about this issue?

If Google Analytics is the only tool a company uses for web analytics, they are missing out on important information. There’s no other way to track and analyze data in real-time on one platform, as google analytics can’t process PII data. Marketers need all of the available tools at their disposal to market their brand, products, or services.

In many cases, marketers are using Google Analytics as the hub for tracking a lot of data. However, there has been an increase in the trend to have CDP where both user behavior and customer profile data are integrated and used as the hub of the marketing analytics stack.

One example is that it will be possible to create customized promotions based on customers’ interests or needs at different stages in their journey with your company. 

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Kris Twitter

As a data journalist, I enjoy curating and analyzing marketing trends, and data. The things that fascinate me the most are the transforming business landscape due to evolving marketing technologies.