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How is Google Analytics 4 Different from Universal Analytics?

Tracking the performance of your website is the only way to know what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can improve moving forward. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it offers a number of significant improvements over its predecessor, Universal Analytics. Here are some of the key differences between the two platforms:

  • Data model: GA4 uses an event-based data model, while Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model. This means that GA4 tracks all user interactions as events, regardless of whether they occur within a single session or across multiple sessions. This makes it easier to track user behavior over time and across different devices.
  • Attribution modeling: GA4 offers more advanced attribution modeling capabilities than Universal Analytics. This means that you can better understand how different marketing channels are contributing to your website traffic and conversions.
  • Integrations: GA4 integrates more seamlessly with other Google products, such as Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform. This makes it easier to use GA4 data to inform your marketing campaigns.
  • Privacy: GA4 is designed to be more privacy-friendly than Universal Analytics. This means that it uses less personal data and it offers more control over how your data is used.

How is Google Analytics 4 Different from Universal Analytics? Overall, GA4 is a more powerful and flexible analytics platform than Universal Analytics. If you're looking for a way to get a better understanding of your website traffic and conversions, then GA4 is the better option and Universal Analytics is no long an option.

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics:

It differs from Universal Analytics (UA), the previous version, in several significant ways:

  1. Data Collection Model: GA4 utilizes an event-based data model, which focuses on tracking and analyzing user interactions as events. This allows for more flexible and granular tracking of user actions across websites and apps. In contrast, UA primarily relies on pageviews and traditional session-based tracking.
  2. User-Centric Approach: GA4 places a stronger emphasis on user-centric analytics. It uses an anonymous User ID to track individual users across multiple devices and platforms, allowing for a more holistic view of user behavior and journey. UA, on the other hand, primarily tracks sessions and associated data.
  3. Enhanced Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 provides better cross-platform tracking by combining web and app data into a single property. It enables tracking and analysis of user interactions across websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. UA treats web and app tracking as separate entities, requiring the creation of separate properties and implementation.
  4. Machine Learning and Insights: GA4 incorporates more advanced machine learning capabilities to provide automated insights and predictive analytics. It offers features like automatic event tracking, enhanced data modeling, and AI-driven insights to help users discover valuable trends and patterns in their data.
  5. Streamlined Configuration: GA4 simplifies the setup and configuration process compared to UA. It uses a simplified tagging structure and provides more intuitive controls for event tracking and data collection. This streamlines implementation and makes it easier for users to get started with the platform.
  6. Privacy and Consent Focus: GA4 has privacy enhancements designed to align with evolving data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. It includes features like data deletion controls and built-in consent management to help businesses comply with privacy requirements. UA does not offer these privacy-focused features by default.
  7. Bounce rate is gone! Well, kinda. It exists in a new form called “engagement rate” and is calculated differently in GA4. In UA, the percentage of website users who did not view more than one page on your website was calculated as “bounce rate.” In Google Analytics 4, the engagement rate is the percentage of non-engaged sessions. This is calculated by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions in a given time period.


One of the benefits of GA4 is that it can be customized to collect and report the data that is most important to your business. Every organization is unique, and you are likely to have data needs that vary from those operating in other industries.

It's important to note that GA4 is not a direct replacement for UA. Both versions are currently available, and GA4 is positioned as the future of Google Analytics. However, migrating from UA to GA4 requires careful planning and consideration, as there are differences in data collection, reporting, and implementation approaches between the two versions.

How Can We Help?

From tracking website visits to creating marketing campaigns and much more, there is always something to be done to help your business bring in customers and clients. When it all starts to become too much, or when you’d simply like to optimize your approach and improve results, reach out to us for assistance.

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