It has been quite a few months since Google announced the release of its Google Analytics 4 or (GA 4) and we are still seeing most of the confusion running around the key differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics. If you are not sure about what Google Analytics 4 is, then the experts at White Label SEO Lab define it as the most prolific analytics nowadays since the features it brings to the analytical table and how to get yourself set up on the platform without losing your previous data is something worth investing for. Adding on, we would like to dig in a deeper look at the fundamental differences between the two Google Analytics platforms and why they are important to us.
What is Universal Analytics?
Universal Analytics is defined as a version of Google Analytics that is made to set a new standard for how user data is collected and securely organized. It was introduced in the year 2012. Universal Analytics further offers new tracking codes for websites and features that can more precisely measure the user behavior. Both Google Analytics (GA) and Universal Analytics (UA) are however available to users. But, Universal Analytics is the only officially supported version as of now. Google is thus encouraging all their users to migrate their properties to Universal Analytics.
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics 4 also formerly known as App + Web is a new kind of analytics solution that Google has developed with several advantages over the previous Universal Analytics as we compare GA vs Universal Analytics.
- It has a privacy-focused module and is more durable for the future.
- It is more Intelligent and uses machine learning to reveal insights about the customer journey across platforms and other devices.
- It has an enhanced and seamless integration with Google’s advertising platforms to optimize campaign performance and drive greater marketing ROI or return on investment.
Difference between Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics
1. Difference in Measuring Models:
The biggest difference that stands between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the measurement model that they make use of. Universal Analytics uses a measurement model that is totally based on sessions and the number of page views. A session is defined as a group of user interactions with a website which take place over a given period of time ( timeframe ). A session can thus contain multiple page views, events as well as eCommerce transactions.
In parallel to that, Google Analytics 4 uses a measurement model that is based on events and parameters. The principle property here is that any interaction can be counted as an event. As a result, all Universal Analytics events and hit types translate to events in GA4. What can be more confusing is that in Universal Analytics and all the previous versions of GA, an event used to have a category, action and label and is its own hit type limit. But in GA 4 there is no category, action or label. Every hit is an event and events can too contain parameters.
2. Removing Monthly Hit Limits:
Another significant difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 is the removal of monthly hit limits. The free version of Universal Analytics provided a monthly limit of 10m hits but now it has been done and dusted. Many of your clients may find it an issue while collecting all the data that they need to stay within this limit. Instead of this, GA 4 has a limit on the number of different events that can be captured and the limit itself is 500. There is basically no limit as to the volume of hits that can be collected with GA analytics. This has resulted in a number of individuals already opting for a GA4-first approach to their analytics structure and system.
3. Connection With BigQuery:
The final difference between the two is the GA4’s free connection with BigQuery. This feature was only available to GA360 customers previously and was one of the major differences between the free and paid versions of GA. BigQuery is something that enables very large and complex data sets to be searched very quickly. If you have ever tried to create complex segments in Google Analytics, then you must be aware of the issue that sampling can have on your ability to analyze the data. Big Query thus, takes the data out of GA and gives you the ability to verify and investigate it without the issue of sampling.
It is therefore proved that there are some important differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics. And it is important that you understand these fully before you go about switching over these analytics sections. If you have any further questions regarding the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our White Label SEO Lab Analytics team and they will be more than happy to help.