GA4 vs. Universal Analytics: What’s The Difference?


    In 2020, Google launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the newest repetition process of the Google Analytics platform. GA4 replaces Universal Analytics (commonly known as UA) as the default for digital analytics measurement in Google Analytics. At the present moment, Google has announced that GA4 will be the only choice starting next year. After reading this, you will get all the essential information about Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics.

    About GA4?

    The officially recommended property type for Google Analytics is Google Analytics 4 (GA4). known as App+Web Property, with its first implementation in beta. Why Web+App? Instead of having those various platform visits divided into distinct GA properties, the new property may track both app and web visits in a single Google Analytics property. That App+Web property was rebranded as Google Analytics 4 and delivered in the fall of 2020. (GA4). Check out this comparison of Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics if you like seeing videos. It explains how they function, how to access the two different property kinds, and how they look.

    Can You Have Diverse Views in GA4?

    This is not accessible in GA4 as of right now (April 2022). The previous year, it was considered “Google Analytics best practice” to have at least three diverse “views” in a Google Analytics property. The “Master” view would be one such view, and it would contain goal tracking, filtered data, and other data customization. Google also recommends using a “Test” view to test new filters and objectives before executing them in the Master view. As a backup, Google recommended an unfiltered view demonstrating all useless data. The critical component of Google Analytics was “Views.” Therefore, it will be exciting to understand when they are contained in GA4.

    How Does Google Analytics 4 Measure Users?

    Universal Analytics receives data from “cookie-based” tracking. A UA website sends a cookie to the user’s browser, enabling the platform to track and record web behavior on the concerned site throughout the user’s visit. Then it uses the session-based data model for the measuring methodology. As per Google, Google Analytics 4 allows “companies to measure across devices and platforms, utilizing a lot of kinds of identity,” as per Google. This contains Google signals from users who have selected to have their marketing personalized. Apart from this, Google Analytics 4 will continue using cookies for tracking wherever available. It’s reasonable to assume that those cookies may become less and less common in a world where privacy is becoming more and more crucial.

    What are Session-Based and Event-Based Data Models

    Analytics organizes data into sessions in UA properties, which serve as the basis for all reporting. A session is a collection of user interactions with your website that happen for a specific period. Pageviews, events, and eCommerce transactions are just a few examples of the user interactions that Analytics records and stores as hits throughout a session. Depending on how a person uses your website, a single session may include several hits.

    About the event-based model?

    Even though Analytics gathers and preserves user interactions with your website or App as events, you may still view session data in GA4 properties. Events, including page views, button clicks, user actions, or system events, give you information about what’s occurring on your website or in your App.

    Events can gather and communicate data that further explains the user’s action or provides additional context for the event or user. This data may include particulars like the purchase cost, the URL of the page the user visited, or their precise location. Although it might not seem like much, this difference is enormous.

    Ways to Track an Event Like Link Clicks in GA4 vs. UA

    We are aware that Universal Analytics uses pageviews to track data. As a result, GA can record a pageview when a URL loads. Although it does not track users’ actions on the tracked domain, that prevents a new page from loading. This covers actions like clicking on videos, clicking on pages inside the domain, and clicking on pages outside the domain. It is essential to use Google Tag Manager for Universal Analytics to measure “events” like link click tracking and button click tracking.

    For marketers taking on this for the first time, it can be time-consuming and difficult. Setting up variables, triggers, and tags (like the tag setup below) to track particular occurrences that Google Analytics will record as data entails. The “event parameters” that are pre-designated with names like category, action, and label are the most significant difference compared to GA4. These “parameters” send extra data with our event that we can use to interpret the data.

    • Category = link_click – is an event parameter that is hard coded to display each time the tag fires.
    • Label = “Page URL” – the curly brackets designate a variable that will capture different data depending on the specific page the visitor was on when the link was clicked.
    • Action = “Click URL” – the curly brackets designate a variable that will capture different data depending on the clicked link.

    Tracking Events in GA4

    Whether you use GA4 or Universal Analytics, you will still need Google Tag Manager for internal link clicks. This blog explains very well how to set up internal link click monitoring in GA4. Moreover, you can examine this guide to Google Analytics link click tracking in UA vs. GA4 for a detailed platform-by-platform comparison.

    Tracking Link Clicks in GA4 vs. UA

    It would be correct to say that GA4 opposes it, which handles some event tracking. GA4 is not dependent on page view tracking. As we’ve seen, some of these events still need Google Tag Manager’s assistance for tracking, while you can manage others fully within GA4. The former is illustrated adequately by internal link click tracking.

    Reporting in Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics

    It appears as though Universal Analytics came into existence to deliver a complete collection of daily reports. In addition, GA4 seems to work nicely with custom reports or exporting data because it provides much fewer standard reports than its predecessor. Let’s compare investment reporting, one of the essential types of reporting in Google Analytics, between UA and GA4.

    We can better comprehend how different sorts of traffic behave on our website thanks to investment reporting. Investment reporting is necessary if we want to assess how well organic search, email, and social media perform in terms of controlling assets or other conversions. It gives us the insight to decide how to allocate budget dollars and aids in our knowledge of both channel and overall business success. The fundamentals of acquisition reporting in UA as well as is the same. However, there are some crucial variances.

    What is the Need for Three Different Metrics in GA4 vs. UA?

    The data model is the key throughout. Sessions and page views form the basis of the Universal Analytics data model. Computing pages/session or bounce rate is simple if everything depends on search sessions and pageviews. Since the model concludes and analyses events rather than page views and sessions, the situation is different in GA4.

    Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics: Segments in Google

    To better understand your users and our website, segments let you examine a portion of your Google Analytics data. The way components operate in GA4, and Universal Analytics is the same. You can analyze up to 4 pieces simultaneously in GA4 and UA. The kinds of features you can make, though, are a little bit different.

    User Segments, session segments, and Event Segments are the three types of segments that we can construct in GA4. User and session segments are the only segment types that you can create using Universal Analytics.

    The method for constructing segments is the main distinction between GA4 and UA. Check out this walk-through of developing custom segments in Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics for a thorough comparison.

    Will Google Analytics 4 still be free?

    Definitely yes. Google Analytics has delivered a free version to help businesses of all types and stages with the most helpful website and app improvements. This objective stays the same.

    This is essentially a result of the cost; Google Analytics has a highly feature-rich free edition. There is a premium version as well, although it has the same basic features as the free version.

    How Does Attribution Modeling Work in Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics?

    First, the last click attribution was supported when GA4 was first released. It excluded multiple alternatives, such as position-based attribution, time-decay attribution, and linear attribution.

    We now have favorable news for 2022, and GA4’s attribution modeling is incredibly reliable. Here is an article from Google on attribution in GA4.

    How To Set UP GA4?

    You must add the GA4 tracking code to your website or app to stimulate data collection in the fourth stage. You can insert the JavaScript code manually or via Google Tag Manager.

    • The GA4 search code deployment instructions are in this developer’s handbook. Be aware that, in my opinion, this is not the best method of action. The best option for implementing GA4 on your website is Google Tag Manager.
    • You can use this help manual or the data in the section below to deploy the GA4 code on the website using Tag Manager.

    Counting “Recommended Events” in your data stream is the fifth step. Recommended Events have a trigger that sets off the event, relying on predetermined essentials and an event name. All online properties may be suitable for the events referenced here.

    How To Locate GA4 With GTM?

    Following the first three stages above to build your new GA4 property and data stream, follow the five steps below to deploy GA4 on your website using Google Tag Manager.

    • Head to Google tag manager
    • Generate a new tag with the help of GA4 configuration
    • Obtain your measurement ID from Google Analytics
    • Arrange your new GA4 tag
    • Review your tag & publish the container

    Are There Any Additional Benefits of GA4?

    Here is Google’s opinion on the matter.

    • You can “measure, unify, and de-duplicate” user interaction data using GA4. This aids in our understanding of the user journey.
    • Adapts to a changing environment in terms of new property and privacy. Through machine learning, Google Analytics 4 “reveals insightful business insights.”
    • GA4 aids in “more effectively taking action on your data” to accomplish objectives. The fact that Google has informed us that GA4 will be the new standard is the most significant practical benefit for us in learning the platform. Since it will eventually replace UA for all digital marketers and measurement teams, the question is “when,” not “if.”

    Final Words:

    Once you read this article, you may come to know how GA4 is different from universal analysis. Hopefully, the information shared in this blog post regarding GA4 and Universal Analytics will be more helpful for you. Don’t forget to leave your comments in the below comment box, or contact the IndeedSEO team if you have any questions, doubts, or suggestions regarding this post. Happy searching!

    About author
    Gurpreet Kaur
    Gurpreet Kaur is a highly-skilled and exponentially experienced content writer at IndeedSEO. She has a passion for content writing and has written several quality blogs, articles, press reports, and more in several niches. Her expertise has helped several of our clients achieve their objectives and sustainable results in the long term.

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