🆕 Our contracts, agreements, and procedures are now certified and secured through blockchain technology to guarantee their accuracy and prevent any modifications.

Decoding the Differences Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4


As businesses become increasingly reliant on data-driven decision-making, the importance of analytics tools cannot be overstated. Two of the most popular analytics tools available today are Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. While they share some similarities, these two platforms have some clear differences in their data models and features. This blog will explain some of the key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, and help you decide which platform is right for your business needs.

1. Introduction to Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4

The first section of this blog provides an introduction to Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 along with a comparison of their data models. Universal Analytics has been the go-to analytics platform for many businesses and marketers over the years, while GA4 is relatively new in the market. Both platforms offer user metrics that help businesses understand their users’ behavior on their website or app. Universal Analytics has two user metrics: Total Users and New Users, while GA4 has three: Total Users, Active Users, and Engaged Users. The blog highlights the differences between the two platforms and how GA4 differs from its predecessor with its event and parameter-based data collection, new data measurement model, and lack of standard reports. The blog emphasizes the importance of understanding these differences to help businesses make informed decisions and maximize the benefits of their analytics platforms.

2. Data Models Used by UA and GA4

The fundamental difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 lies in their data collection models. UA’s model is based on sessions and pageviews, whereas GA4’s model focuses on events and parameters. The latter’s approach is much more flexible, as it is not tied to specific pages or interactions on the site. Instead, GA4 tracks user actions and behavior across the entire site or app, making it easier to gain comprehensive insights into user behavior. Moreover, GA4’s property-level data collection enables you to track different aspects of your site or app separately, while UA collects all data within a single property. By understanding the differences between these data models, you can better determine which analytics tool is best for your business.

3. Session and Pageview-Based Data Collection in UA

In Universal Analytics, data is collected based on sessions and pageviews. A session is a group of user interactions with a website within a given time period, while pageviews track which pages were viewed during a session. This measurement model allowed for a clearer understanding of user behavior on a site, as well as the effectiveness of marketing efforts. However, with the advent of Google Analytics 4, a new data model based on events and parameters has been introduced. Despite this, Universal Analytics still provides valuable insights into user behavior, making it a valuable tool for businesses looking to optimize their online presence.

4. Event and Parameter-Based Data Collection in GA4

In GA4, event and parameter-based data collection is the new norm compared to UA’s session and pageview-based model. This means that all hit types are now measured as events, providing more flexibility and granularity in tracking user interactions. Parameters, on the other hand, are additional pieces of information that can be attached to events to add context and details about specific actions. This enables greater insights into user behavior and allows for easier analysis and segmentation. GA4 also introduces a more streamlined and efficient method of collecting data. Instead of creating properties for each website or app, GA4 uses streams to collect data, making it easier to manage and analyze multiple data sources. In addition, GA4’s new data measurement model promises powerful machine learning insights to predict user behavior and increase conversions. This all makes GA4 a powerful tool for data tracking, analysis, and segmentation compared to UA’s older measurement model.

5. Property Vs Stream-Level Data Collection

5. Property Vs Stream-Level Data Collection

The way data is collected and organized differs significantly between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. One key difference is in the way data is collected at the property and stream levels. In UA, data is collected at the property level, meaning that all data collected across multiple streams within that property is combined and analyzed together. Whereas in GA4, data is collected at the stream level, meaning each stream within a property is analyzed separately with its own set of data models and parameters. This means that GA4 offers greater flexibility in analyzing data for different streams, but it could also make it more challenging to compare and analyze data across the entire property. However, with the introduction of advanced machine learning models in GA4, businesses can still access meaningful insights from data collected at the stream level.

6. New Data Measurement Model in GA4

6. New Data Measurement Model in GA4

The new data measurement model in Google Analytics 4 is based on events and parameters rather than sessions and pageviews like in Universal Analytics. This means that every user interaction is captured as an event, allowing for more granular data and customized reporting. Additionally, GA4 leverages the same measurement model as Google Analytics Firebase, which is used for mobile apps. Unlike in UA, where data is collected at the property level, GA4 allows for data collection at the stream level, providing more flexibility for different types of data collection. Overall, the shift towards an event-based measurement model in GA4 demonstrates Google’s efforts to improve data accuracy and enhance the user experience for website and app owners.

7. Use of Cookies in UA and GA4

When it comes to tracking user activity on websites and apps, cookies have long been a staple tool for gathering data. Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 continue to utilize cookies for this purpose. However, GA4 takes it a step further by utilizing a combination of first-party cookies and Google Signals to track users across devices and platforms. Meanwhile, UA primarily uses first-party cookies to determine unique users and sessions. Both versions of Analytics allow for the disabling of cookies, but doing so will limit the amount of data that can be collected. Overall, the use of cookies is an important aspect of both UA and GA4’s data collection processes, and understanding their limitations is key to making the most of these powerful analytics tools.

8. Event-Based Tracking in GA4

In GA4, event-based tracking has replaced the traditional session-based tracking of UA. This means that instead of focusing on session duration and pageviews, GA4 tracks specific events and parameters. By doing so, GA4 can provide more granular data that can be useful in understanding user behavior on your website or app. Event-based tracking allows for more detailed analysis of user behavior, including actions such as clicks, scrolling, and video plays. However, it is important to note that event-based tracking may require additional setup and configuration to ensure that all relevant events are being tracked. Overall, the shift towards event-based tracking in GA4 represents a more nuanced approach to data collection and analysis compared to the traditional session-based tracking of UA.

9. Key Differences Between UA and GA4

9. Key Differences Between UA and GA4

In summary, there are several key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. Universal Analytics uses a measurement model based on sessions and pageviews, while GA4’s model is based on events and parameters. GA4 collects data at the stream level via a unique tracking code, whereas UA collects data at the property level with a tracking ID. Additionally, UA uses cookies for tracking, while GA4 uses a User ID method to identify and track users. GA4 also offers more event-based tracking options, making it a more powerful tool for measuring user engagement. While both tools can track the same data points, they use different models and tracking methods, making GA4 a more modern and sophisticated analytics tool. As UA will be deprecated in 2023, businesses should start planning to migrate to GA4 to ensure continued access to accurate and useful data.

10. Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it’s clear that there are significant differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. From the measuring models to the data collection methods, GA4 introduces some major changes that offer a fresh perspective on user behavior and engagement. Though UA still has a year left before its deprecation in 2023, it’s important for businesses to start preparing for the transition to GA4. By doing so, they’ll be able to stay ahead of the game and adapt to the cookieless future that lies ahead. With event-based tracking and a new data measurement model, GA4 offers a more comprehensive approach to data analysis that can provide deeper insights into user behavior. Overall, while it may take some time to adjust to the new model, embracing GA4 can lead to more accurate and actionable data that will benefit businesses in the long run.

You May Also Like