Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will soon take over as the default analytics tool offered by Google, taking over from Universal Analytics (UA). It was recently released and is set to entirely replace UA by the 1st of July 2023. GA4 differs greatly from UA from many angles, as an entirely new approach to data capturing, storing, and utilising information about your website visitors. But what is the difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics? 

The Gone Digital team is here to shed some light and give you the insight you need to transition to GA4 with confidence.

User Tracking 

Tracking via Google Tag Manager (GTM) with GA4 uses the measurement ID as opposed to using the tracking ID. The measurement ID outlines data streams, which allows you to have multiple streams from multiple platforms driving into the same property. User tracking is calculated slightly differently, though it appears it is tracking the same thing.

Google says:  “Universal Analytics highlights Total Users (shown as Users) in most reports, whereas GA4 focuses on Active Users (also shown as Users). So, while the term Users appears the same, the calculation for this metric is different.”

Cross-Platform Approach

Universal Analytics is limited to a desktop-first approach, where GA4 is reliably integrated to accommodate cross-platform tracking. This approach allows users to monitor and measure the user journey from mobile applications and websites at one time in one place. This produces insights that assist in accurately gauging the overall performance and direction for future business action. 

Engagement Metrics

GA4 reflects user engagement more accurately than UA does, with enhanced report engagement metrics. GA4 does away with bounce rates and utilises metrics such as engagement rate and engaged sessions, defining the relationship between marketing strategies and the customer. 

User Privacy 

Ultimately, the transition to GA4 from UA is a step towards respecting user privacy. UA disables IP anonymisation, allowing users to be traced. As a default, GA4 anonymises the last few digits of an IP address by deleting them, preventing addresses being traced back to individual users. 

Event Tracking 

GA4 analyses and tracks events differently to UA, eradicating the category, action, label and value fields found in UA and replacing them with automatically collected events, enhanced measurement events, recommended events and custom events. The parameters for each vary, and each property can hold up to 500 different event names. 

Custom Dimensions 

GA4 custom dimensions differ from UA custom dimensions in that the Hit scope is replaced with the event scope. The session, user and product dimensions otherwise remain the same. GA4 allows you to create up to 25 user-scoped custom dimensions and 50 event-scoped custom dimensions as per each property.

Ultimately, GA4 offers great business advantages as a tool that can be used to measure profitability and performance. While it may be challenging to adopt and transition to, we are available to guide you through the transition. 

Contact Gone Digital today to get started.