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What is Google Analytics 4? 7 Major Differences between GA4 & Universal Analytics

You may have heard before, on 16th March 2022, Google announced that the Google Analytics platform, Universal Analytics will no longer be available from 1st July 2023 and Google will not introduce new features for it.

This makes it necessary for every Digital Marketing Agency and business to switch to a new analytics version named Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as soon as possible. By this, you can save your data and have previous records to compare to when UA sunsets.

In this article, we will discuss what GA4 is, and the major differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics to help you better understand what GA4 has to offer that UA had not.

What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Launched in October 2022, Google Analytics 4 is the new generation of Google Analytics, designed to track engagement and traffic on your website and mobile apps. GA4 provides more comprehensive and advanced features than its predecessor Universal Analytics.

GA4 was introduced to meet data standards in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Based on machine learning and AI, with GA4, you get a clear picture of customer behavior across various channels and devices.

7 Major Differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics

1.   Different Measuring Models

One of the major differences between GA4 and UA is the measurement model they use to collect data. Universal Analytics uses a measurement model that is based on sessions and page views. On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 uses a measurement model based on events and parameters.

It is about how the user interactions are captured. In UA, interactions are captured in hit types (sessions) like page views, events, and transactions. While in GA4 every interaction is captured as an event.

Universal AnalyticsGoogle Analytics 4
Page viewevent
User Timingevent
App/screen viewevent

2.   Website and Mobile App Tracking 

Another major difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics is the cross-device tracking feature. GA4 can track engagement and traffic on the website and mobile apps both, whereas UA only tracks website data. With Google Analytics 4, the cross-device tracking feature makes it easier to combine data from the website and app.

3.   Removal of Monthly Hit Limits

The exciting feature of GA4 is the removal of monthly hit limits. With the free version of UA, marketers were only able to collect data of up to 10 million hits per month. Whereas with GA4, there are no restrictions on amounts of hits you collect. Alternatively, GA4 has a limit on the number of different events that can be captured which is 500.

This feature of unlimited monthly hit limits has become the main reason for many digital marketers and businesses to choose GA4 as it allows them to collect a high volume of data on visitors without minimal restrictions.

4.   New Reporting Interface

Another major difference between both tracking platforms is the new reporting interface.

Most of the reports have been replaced or added in GA4. This is because of the different measuring models both platforms use.

In GA4, google has sectioned two groups in reports: Life Cycle and User.

In the life cycle, new reports are placed such as Engagement, Monetization, and Retention.

Another difference in reports is “Audience” is replaced by “User” which furthermore gives insights about demographics and tech.

5.   New Engagement Metrics in GA4

In the UA report, there were behavior metrics that included bounce rate, pages/session, and average session duration. These metrics are replaced by the “engagement” metric in GA4.

The new engagement metrics include:

  • Engaged sessions: sessions that lasted more than 10 seconds or had two or more page views, or had a conversion event.
  • Engagement Rate: the ratio of engagement sessions to total sessions.
  • Avg. Engagement Time: the time a user is engaged with a page such as scrolling a page.

6.  Free Connection to BigQuery

Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 allows free connection to BigQuery. It was only enabled in GA360 which was one of the significant differentiators between paid and free versions of GA.

For those who don’t know what BigQuery is, BigQuery allows huge and complex data sets to be queried fast. It takes the data out of GA and provides the ability to interrogate without the issue of sampling.

7.   Engagement Rate Instead of Bounce Rate

UA uses bounce rate as a measuring metric to track visitor engagement. The bounce rate is the number of users that left your website without interacting with a website such as clicking on pages, subscribing, or making any other requests.  

On the hand, GA4 uses engagement rate as a measuring metric of user engagement. It is the percentage of engaged sessions.

The engagement rate is more useful than the bounce rate metric in tracking user engagement. It defines more about a user’s behavior and preferences.

GA4 at One Klick SEO

Clearly, there are many significant differences between GA4 and UA. Now it is necessary to understand them better because as we have mentioned above Universal analytics will no longer be available from 1st July 2023. However, if you haven’t migrated from UA to GA4 yet, you still have time to migrate as you will still be able to access your previously processed data in UA for six months after 1st July 2023.

We at One Klick SEO, have already shifted and use GA4 for our clients. The amazing features of a new generation of Google Analytics have helped us to extract more quality data and provide our clients with better recommendations and result-driven strategies.

One Klick SEO
One Klick SEO

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