GA4 vs Universal Analytics: What’s the Difference?

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Change is the only constant. This is applicable in every case. However, it becomes challenging to adapt to a new and revised platform. Many marketers and business owners find it difficult to embrace the switch. There is a lot of fuss between Google’s old analytics tool and the latest build. Most marketers are not to take things forward as they are unsure about the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4. it’s crucial to grasp the distinctions between these two analytics platforms. Discover what is the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4.

What is GA4?

It is a new version of Google Analytics that has replaced Universal Analytics. This new version comes with interesting features that can ease the life of marketers. First things first, let’s get the hang of what Google Analytics 4 is!

Google Analytics 4 is an analytics tool that allows you to integrate mobile app & website usage data into a single GA property. The new property is known as Google Analytics 4 or GA4. GA4 can be used for measuring website performance, traffic and engagement across websites & apps. In the new version, you get advanced reports, metrics, tracking systems, and more.

Google Analytics 4 is designed to track WordPress website and apps in the same property, unlike Universal Analytics where tracking your apps and websites were a task. GA4 provides a better picture of the customer’s journey across different channels & devices.

On the contrary, Universal Analytics which was introduced in 2012 was used by websites for tracking their traffic. However, Universal Analytics ended on July 1, 2023, which implies that people will not be able to track visitors using UA.

GA 4 Features

Here are the striking features:

1.   Complete Makeover of Reporting Interface

The striking difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics lies in its new Reporting Interface. The latest analytics versions use different measurement models compared to Universal Analytics.
Chiefly, the reports are grouped under 5 main categories:

  1. Realtime
  2. Audience
  3. Acquisition
  4. Behavior
  5. Conversions

All of these options are conveniently positioned within the left-hand menu of your GA4 dashboard, allowing marketers to access all the reports from a single window, simplifying the process of finding them.

2. New Kind of Data Measurement Model in GA4

Another striking difference between GA4 and universal Analytics is how they collect & process the website data. Universal Analytics uses a measurement model based on sessions & pageviews. Whereas, GA4 extensively use the event-based model to track data which means the tool records & tracks various actions or events that users perform on a website.

GA4 also makes it easier to enable the enhanced measurement features, For example, one can easily set up the outbound link click & scroll depth tracking with a click of a switch in GA4.

This would have not been possible in the case of Universal Analytics, as you would have to perform a complex setup or tweak the tracking code to configure that kind of link click tracking or scroll tracking.

3. No Bounce Rate or Reporting Metrics

With GA4, you can explore new metrics along with new reports. But you will notice that the latest version does not have a trace of the bounce rate metric in GA4.
The bounce rate indicates the count of users who departed your website without engaging in any actions such as clicking a link, subscribing to a newsletter, or making a purchase.
In GA4, the bounce rate metric is hidden. The users would have to customize pages and screen reports and add the “Bounce rate” as the metric.
However, the striking difference is that GA4 shows a new metric known as ‘Engaged Sessions per user’ shows the number of people interacting with your content.

This encompasses sessions in which the user remains on the page for at least 10 seconds, initiates one or more events, or views two or more pages.

4. Does Not Track Form Conversions

Another striking feature contrasting GA4 & Universal Analytics is the Form Conversions.
Forms are essential for any business as they act as the medium to interact with users, get feedback, and resolve queries.
However, setting up the form conversion tracking in Google Analytics 4 doesn’t come easy. It requires the addition of the custom code. This can be tricky as a slight mistake may impede tracking the website.

5. Events Replace Universal Analytics Goals

In the case of Universal Analytics, it was easy to record different user interactions using the goals. The four different kinds of goals in UA include:

  • Destination: Setting a destination goal to track when the user arrives on a specific page such as the thank you page or product landing page.
  • Duration: This helps marketers check user’s frequency on the website before exiting.
  • Pages Per Visit: Navigating pages per visit goals helps in ascertaining the number of pages a visitor views before leaving your site.
  • Event: Events help to track user interactions on the site.

However, GA4 replaces goals with events. For instance, if you have an online store, enable events to track interactions and how users enter payment details & shipment information.

6. Ease of Performing Advanced Analysis in GA4

Last striking difference between the analytical platform is the level of advanced analysis you can perform in Google Analytics 4. In Universal Analytics, one can create custom reports for the historical data and make use of the secondary dimensions to get insights. However, GA4 goes the extra mile with its Exploration reports.

One gets to witness prebuilt templates for different analyses. For example, marketers can use the ‘Funnel’ exploration template to witness the customer’s journey before purchasing.

GA 4 VS Google Analytics

Other than that, the GA4 Exploration report also offers other options to add different segments, dimensions & metrics to custom reports.

GA4 stands out as a powerful and forward-looking tool. It’s event-driven tracking, cross-platform capabilities, privacy focus, and predictive metrics make it a compelling choice for businesses aiming to understand their users better and stay ahead in the digital realm. Transitioning to GA4 is not just a necessity; it’s an opportunity to unlock deeper insights into user behaviour and drive better-informed decisions for your website or app. In case you are finding it hard to adapt to the GA4 tool contact Finessse- India’s trusted Digital Marketing Agency with experienced professionals well versed with the GA4 tool and fetch you insights in a better way. Don’t wait for long, contact Finessse Interactive today!

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