Google Analytics is an important tool for gathering data from your websites and apps that provide insights into your business, enabling you to make data-driven decisions about your site and marketing channels. Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) collected this data from 2013 until July 1, 2023, when Goggle Analytics 4 (GA4) launched.
Not every website owner transitioned their websites to the new platform, so Google auto-migrated those sites to GA4 on July 1. If your website was auto-migrated, it’s important to keep in mind that there are some significant differences between UA and GA4. That means you may not be collecting important data that can help you improve your website’s reach and impact on your target audiences. In addition, if you use historic data to gauge your website’s performance, you may no longer have access to prior data from UA unless you took steps to archive it.
UA vs. GA4: What Are the Differences?
Measurement is the biggest difference between UA and GA4. While Universal Analytics measured sessions and page views, GA4 measures events and parameters. Google says the approach to measurement in GA4 is to increase focus on user experience via interactions versus simply gathering data on the number of visits to a website and its pages. UA also didn’t count interactions such as video views.
While it’s still possible to track much of the same data in GA4 as in UA, you have to configure settings to do so. And some of the data users were used to seeing in UA may have been moved to another area on the platform.
Also, reflective of the ever-increasing importance of mobile, GA4 gathers mobile data alongside website data on the same platform, whereas UA measures screen views in separate mobile-specific properties. If you are tracking both web and app data in your GA4 property, you’ll have to take the additional app traffic into consideration when comparing page view metrics between the two.
Another notable difference between UA and GA4 is the absence of bounce rates. Instead, GA4 measures “engaged sessions,” which are session that lasted for at least 10 seconds, had at least one conversion event or at least two page views. The percentage of sessions that weren’t engaged sessions is now considered the equivalent of what was called the bounce rate.
Besides the new approach to measurement, there are many other differences between UA and GA4. For example, in UA, there are two user metrics, “total users” and “new users.” In GA4, there are three user metrics: “total users,” “active users” and “new users.”
The Google Analytics data that is important to your business depends upon the type of website property you own and the role it plays in marketing your business. But regardless of the size and kind of business you own, you’ll find GA4 can tell you a lot about your customers and how you can better reach them.
Fresh Creative can help you maximize the data you collect using GA4 to help your position your website and your business for greater success. Contact us to learn more.