What Is Google Analytics 4 And How Does It Differ From Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics Vs GA4

Are you ready for Google Analytics 4 to replace Universal Analytics in July 2023? We have a guide on how to prepare—see below!

In today’s mobile environment, customers are no longer browsing through products on the web in an expected path. They go from multiple touchpoints—like websites and apps—and a better understanding of their needs allows you to provide them with more personalized experiences. Google Analytics 4, or GA4 is at the centre of this transformation: it helps businesses gain valuable insights into how people behave online so they can deliver even better products and services through data measurement solutions like never before!

For those who have not yet upgraded to Universal Analytics 4, it is time to get started. If you’re already one step ahead of the game, check out how saving historical data will help with your transition.

But, if you’re still new to the whole concept, read along for a brief explanation of what GA4 is and how it differs from Universal Analytics.

What is GA4?

We still rely on Google Analytics to measure website performance and Google Analytics for Firebase to measure app engagement. Although both platforms do their job well (and give businesses powerful insights), it’s difficult to get a comprehensive picture of how data compare.

GA4 is Google’s new multifaceted analytics tool. You can use it to track the complex, multi-platform journeys your customers take and better understand them.

With GA4, customers can rest easy knowing that the IP addresses they submit will no longer be stored. This is a major advantage for businesses—especially those operating in international markets where data protection and controlled sharing are becoming increasingly important.

What’s the difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics?

GA4 has many key features that are different from its predecessor and require time to get used to. So, before jumping on the bandwagon and migrating to GA4, let’s look at their differences. In this article, we’ve narrowed them down to 5 main points.

Tracking paradigm

The two tools measure data differently: Universal Analytics uses the session-based tracking paradigm that GA4 has replaced with event-based analytics.

Universal Analytics tracks a user’s interactions with your website—the number of times he or she visited pages and what content was consumed on each visit. While you can also include multiple additional events in a single session of Universal Analytics, doing so requires some technical skills.

The new GA4 (Google Analytics) model measures user engagement through “events” on your website and app instead of page views. This gives you a complete view of users regardless of technical capabilities.

There are 4 event types in GA4:

  • Automatically collected events are automatically triggered when you install the GA4 code base. Some examples of this type of event include page_view, first_visit and session-start.
  • You can also collect more advanced data. For example, with enhanced measurement events, you can see how many people scrolled down your content or clicked on a link before leaving the site—a metric that wasn’t available in standard eCodes until this update. This event type allows you to disable specific measurements in your app temporarily.
  • Recommended events do not generate data independently, but they can give you access to more information that may be used in reporting.
  • Before setting up a custom event, review the list of automatically collected and enhanced measurements that already contain events applicable to your business.

Data setup organization

In Universal Analytics, you must create separate properties for your website and app—physical versions. Then there are three distinct views: one unfiltered (where you store all raw data) and two filtered versions

A second view, a test one , lets you see your changes with filters and other customizations added. The last collects all the goals from tests and shows that information back to someone entering data into Salesforce for the first time (or reviewing it later).

In GA4, a website or an app will be considered one “data stream”.Each GA4 property can have up to 50 data streams attached, each uniquely identified by the user activity we collect—every unique identifier you send our way is counted separately.

User entity modelling

When you visit a website, it may ask for your consent to use cookies. When you give permission, cookies are sent to the web browser and used by that site for a certain period of time.

Nowadays, businesses have many different channels through which to communicate with customers. More and more of your customers engage with you across multiple platforms—where cookies aren’t available—and if you rely only on cookies to track user behaviour, it’s hard to understand how they interact with your business.

With Google Analytics 4’s new unified user entity model, you can combine data from cookies and Google signals to see a single cross-device journey. Google signals are data collected from users who have signed into their accounts. They can help fill the gap in user data left behind by cookies, which do not collect information about users of all devices (such as mobile phones).

Different metrics

The new metric, engagement rate, is calculated by dividing the number of sessions lasting more than 10 seconds that have had at least one conversion event or consist of more than 2 pageviews; into total session count.

In contrast, Universal Analytics has a new metric called “bounce rate”—the percentage of single-page sessions that do not contain interaction with any page element. Sessions which last less than 0 seconds and include no JavaScript or server-side code interactions are considered bounces by this definition.

Because bounce rate is calculated as the percentage of visits in which a visitor views only one page before leaving, engagement rate measures how many pages visitors view on average. This can be more useful because it captures people who may have viewed just one page and left. It’s important to note that these are not opposite metrics — they exist on different axes

Cross-device tracking

GA4 allows you to group various data streams—a website or an app—to create a single property. This way, reports can include cross-domain traffic and aggregate data while still breaking it down per stream.

In conclusion, while Universal Analytics and GA4 share similar goals, key differences must be considered. GA4 has replaced the session-based tracking paradigm with event-based analytics, which measures user engagement through “events” on your website and app instead of page views. GA4 also offers a new metric called engagement rate, which measures how many pages visitors view on average. With GA4, a website or app is considered one “data stream,” and up to 50 data streams can be attached to a GA4 property. GA4’s new unified user entity model also allows businesses to combine data from cookies and Google signals to see a single cross-device journey. Businesses must carefully evaluate their needs and goals to decide which platform to use.

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