OWOX BI and Google Analytics 4: Understanding the Key Differences
Vlad Flaks, CEO @ OWOX
Let me start with a statement, that Google Analytics 4 and Google BigQuery are both great products. We love them, we use them. Why did I mention Google BigQuery at the very beginning of my answer, while it isn't mentioned in the question? Well, it is because OWOX BI Streaming was initially designed to deliver web data to Google BigQuery in real time. Unlike Google Analytics OWOX BI doesn't have a middle reporting layer in data flow to Google BigQuery. It is sad news for the ones who have been looking for a Google Analytics replacement.
However if your goal is to get quality analytics-ready data in Google BigQuery, OWOX BI comes into play.
1. Real-time data collection guaranteed by SLA
To keep marketing reports up to date, you need to be sure of data freshness and delivery reliability in advance prior to integrating Google Analytics data in business processes.
|OWOX BI provides SLA for Google BigQuery real-time data collection. There are no unexpected delays, data inconsistency and missing fields.||Data freshness and data consistency aren’t guaranteed at this moment by Google BigQuery Linking. Also some of the essential for marketing analysis fields like traffic source, are not populated in intraday export.|
2. Higher limits and better data completeness
Reports' value is based on the quality of gathered data. That is why it is important to ensure that your data collection works without data distortion.
|OWOX BI has no limits for the number of collected events. Even users of standard, not 360 version, can stream unsampled data into Google BigQuery without limits. Also some additional fields are available. Like is_bot for fraud detection.|
OWOX BI has no limits to URL's length.
|Google Analytics 4 data has a lot of limits, such as number of user-scoped custom dimensions, event parameters and conversions numbers.|
If your URL length exceeds 500 characters, you can't see the page path in the reports.
3. Ability to clearly understand the sequence of user actions
|OWOX BI transforms data into sequential order of various events which leads to the conversion. You can build reports that help you understand which items or content are driving sales (eg. what was the order of the products added to the cart or which blog articles were read before a free trial sign-up).||In GA4 → Google BigQuery Export, there is a problem with defining event sequences. It might be struggling to group events into the sessions because you won’t be able to find which event was the first, the second, and so on.|
4. Year-Over-Year metrics and backwards compatibility
Trends analysis is a fundamental activity for every digital analyst, and it is almost impossible without seasonality data. To support YoY metrics on marketing dashboards, historical and live data must have the same format.
|OWOX BI collects RAW data in Google Analytics compatible format. But due to the transformation layer, OWOX BI provides seamlessly integrated Google Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 data in universal and business-ready data format.||Google Analytics 4 data model is completely different from Google Universal Analytics. Google doesn’t provide a way to automatically convert historical datasets in a new format.|
5. Server-side cookieless tracking out of the box
For accurate customer acquisition reporting it is crucial to maximize cookie lifespan. Overwise you’ll see overvalued direct traffic in your reports because returning visitors will get new cookies instead of expired ones. As a result the returning visitors will be considered as new ones.
|OWOX BI provides server-side 1st party cookie tracking on a subdomain of your choice out of the box. No engineers’ resources are needed to roll up or maintain it.It ensures maximum cookie lifespan and 20%+ higher acquisition campaign accuracy tracking.||Despite GA cookies being considered 1st party, they are exposed to the negative impact of existing limitations of the cookie's lifetime (e.g. ITP from Safari). Cause they are set by JS code, not a server. |
For the 1st party server-side tracking support Google Analytics requires setup and maintenance of a server-side version of Google Tag Manager. It also requires additional charges for Google Cloud, and App Engine expertise for monitoring and ensuring stable scaling.
6. Full control over data storage location
Privacy regulations like GDPR make cloud service providers a subject of third party risk management. Recent decisions of European courts regarding Google Analytics affect almost every EU or international business. Data governance has never been as important as it is today.
|OWOX BI provides data collection in a location of clients’ choice, including 10 in the EU. OWOX BI doesn’t store collected data in any locations but chosen by the client. On top of that OWOX provides all the details regarding data flow for clients’ legal and security teams.||Google Analytics provides clear and detailed options to manage sent data. However there is no way to store data only in the location of your choice. You can configure PII data processing in the EU or export data, but you can not store all the collected data in the selected location only.|
Automatically import Non-Google ad cost data into Google Analytics 4 with OWOX BI
Important! If you plan to import advertising costs to Google Analytics 4, then you need to add the required parameter utm_id (campaign identifier) to the links of your advertisement campaigns.
Find out the real value of ad campaigns
Automatically import cost data to Google Analytics 4 from all your advertising services. Compare campaign costs, CPC, and ROAS in a single report and make fully-informed decisions.
Of course, the choice of methods and tools for data collection depends on the goals and needs of your marketing analytics. The best solution is to try both options and choose the best one for you.