As businesses rely on data-driven insights to inform their strategies, web analytics platforms play a crucial role in tracking and analyzing user behavior on websites and apps. Google Analytics has been a leading player in this domain for years, but it recently introduced a new version called Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
In this blog post, we will explore the key differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4, helping you understand which version is right for your business.
What is Universal Analytics (UA)?
Universal Analytics (UA) is a web analytics platform developed by Google. It is an upgraded version of the original Google Analytics and offers a comprehensive set of tools and features for tracking and analyzing user interactions on websites and mobile apps.
UA enables businesses to collect and track data from various sources, providing insights into user behavior, traffic sources, conversion rates, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). By implementing the UA tracking code on websites and apps, businesses can gather information about user interactions, pageviews, events, conversions, and more.
One of the key features of UA is its customization and configuration options. It allows businesses to define custom dimensions and metrics, enabling them to track and analyze data beyond the default set of metrics provided by Google Analytics. Custom dimensions provide flexibility to capture more information specific to the business, such as user demographics, product categories, or marketing campaign details.
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google's web analytics platform. It was introduced as an evolution of the previous version known as Universal Analytics. GA4 provides powerful insights into user behavior on websites and mobile apps, offering valuable data for businesses to make informed decisions and optimize their online presence.
One of the critical features of GA4 is its enhanced focus on cross-platform tracking. It allows businesses to track user interactions across different devices and platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and offline channels. This holistic view provides a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior, allowing businesses to deliver personalized experiences and target their marketing efforts more.
GA4 also introduces a new event-based data model, which replaces the traditional pageview-based approach of Universal Analytics. With this model, businesses can track and analyze specific user actions, such as button clicks, video views, downloads, and more. This level of granularity provides deeper insights into user engagement and helps identify key conversion points.
Another notable feature of GA4 is its emphasis on machine learning and artificial intelligence. The platform incorporates advanced algorithms to analyze data and uncover meaningful patterns and trends. It enables businesses to gain insights from their data without relying on manual analysis, making it easier to identify opportunities and optimize marketing strategies.
Let’s see the key differences between UA and GA4…
What Are the Key Differences Between UA and GA4?
#1: Data Collection Method
One of the primary differences between UA and GA4 lies in their data collection method. UA utilizes a pageview-based model, tracking user interactions through pageviews and events. It relies on cookies to identify unique users, which can pose challenges with increasing user privacy measures and cross-device tracking.
In contrast, GA4 employs an event-based model, focusing on user interactions as events rather than page views. It uses an enhanced measurement library and a more flexible approach to data collection, allowing for greater customization and easier tracking of user behavior across many devices and platforms.
#2: User-Centric Approach
GA4 introduces a user-centric approach to data analysis, placing a stronger emphasis on understanding individual user journeys rather than focusing on sessions and pageviews. This shift enables businesses to gain deeper insights into user behavior, engagement, and conversion paths across various touchpoints.
UA focuses on session-level data, providing information about pageviews, session duration, and bounce rates. While UA offers valuable session-based metrics, GA4's user-centric approach enables a more holistic understanding of user interactions and engagement with your digital assets.
#3: Machine Learning Capabilities
GA4 harnesses the power of machine learning to provide advanced insights and predictive analytics. Its enhanced AI capabilities allow businesses to uncover valuable patterns, identify user segments, and generate predictive metrics. GA4's machine learning algorithms can help you understand user intent, predict churn rates, and provide recommendations for audience targeting and content optimization.
UA, while still a robust analytics platform, lacks the advanced machine-learning capabilities offered by GA4. Businesses that rank predictive analytics and AI-driven insights may find GA4 more beneficial in driving data-informed decisions.
#4: Enhanced Cross-Platform and App Tracking
As digital experiences expand beyond traditional websites, tracking user interactions across different platforms and apps becomes essential. GA4 offers improved cross-platform and app tracking, making it easier to understand user behavior across web, mobile apps, and other digital touchpoints.
UA's cross-platform tracking capabilities are more limited and require more customization and configuration. GA4 streamlines the process by providing a unified view of user interactions across various channels, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey.
#5: Data Reporting and Visualization
GA4 introduces a revamped user interface and updated reporting features. It provides more intuitive data visualization, making it easier to explore and understand complex data sets. GA4 offers preconfigured reports, customizable dashboards, and a more user-friendly experience overall.
UA, being the older version of Google Analytics, has a different interface and reporting structure. While it still offers a wide range of reporting options, GA4's redesigned interface provides a more modern and streamlined experience for users.
The introduction of Google Analytics 4 brings significant changes and enhancements to the world of web analytics. GA4's event-based data collection, user-centric approach, machine learning capabilities, enhanced cross-platform tracking, and improved reporting make it a compelling choice for businesses seeking advanced insights and a more comprehensive understanding of their users.
However, it's important to note that UA remains a reliable and widely used analytics platform, and many businesses still rely on its features and familiarity. Depending on your specific needs, industry, and level of analytics sophistication,
Star Web Maker recognizes the importance of leveraging web analytics to drive business growth. Both UA and GA4 offer valuable insights into user behavior and website performance. While UA remains a reliable and used analytics platform, GA4 introduces exciting advancements, including a user-centric approach, machine learning capabilities, enhanced cross-platform tracking, and improved reporting.
When deciding between UA and GA4, consider your specific business needs, goals, and the level of analytics sophistication required. Star Web Maker's team of experts can help you navigate the differences between the two platforms, ensuring that you make an informed choice and maximize the potential of web analytics to propel your business forward.