22 key differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics

New Google Analytics

Google Analytics 4 is the fourth release of Analytics, tentatively titled Google Analytics App + Web. What’s new in the last update and how it differs from the version of 2013 we are used to, further in the review.

1. Instead of numerical measurements of the event

While metrics such as page views and sessions played a key role in Universal Analytics, in 2020, actions were taken by users also came out on top.

Custom metrics in Google Analytics

The new data model assigns any interaction to the category of events, each of which can consist of a maximum of 25 custom indicators (metrics). These custom metrics can be made available for future reports.

2. Consolidated data streams instead of separate for sites and applications

In Google Analytics settings 4 the option of multiple data streams for applications is available. Here you can add data streams for the Apps and Apps and Web options. A default view is automatically generated for the Web resource instead of data streams.

Data streams in Google Analytics

3. New analytics code format

The familiar UA-XXXXXXX code format has now been changed to G-XXXXXXXXXX.

UA code format

4. Default IP Anonymization

In Google Analytics 4, encrypting an IP address takes two steps: through a JavaScript tag and a data collection network. Universal Analytics also had such a function, but it needed to be enabled.

IP anonymization

5. Two conversion tracking cookies instead of one

There are now 2 types of cookies in the new Analytics: “_ga” and “_ga_XXXXXX”. Both options have a 2-year shelf life. They are updated every time data is sent to Google Analytics.

Types of cookies in Google Analytics

The first version of the “_ga” file, as in Universal Analytics, stores a custom ClientID.

ClientID in Google Analytics

The second cookie is in the format “_ga_XXXXXX” and is used for the Measurement ID.

Measurement ID

6. More default metrics

The new version has significantly expanded the list of basic metrics. New metrics cover:

  • Page views (optionally, you can ignore views based on browser history).
  • Scrolling.
  • Clicks on links on the site that took the user away from your domain.
  • Site search. Metrica has additional settings.
  • Viewing, scrolling, and other interactions with the video.
  • Uploading files, including documents, applications, video and audio.
List of basic Google Analytics metrics 4

7. Page views are now events too

If Webviews were not considered events in Universal Analytics, the list of events has been expanded in the new version. They also got a new structure based on custom parameters.

Google Analytics pageview event

8. New Engagement Tracking Methods

The familiar methods of tracking engagement through time on the site, the number of viewed pages, and the bounce rate in the new Analytics are no longer relevant. This takes a deeper approach. A session is considered active if it lasted more than 10 seconds. If the user has left the site or application earlier, this will be considered an opt-out. Accordingly, the level of engagement is determined by the number of active sessions of one user. And the time of engagement is exactly equal to the active time on the site (in the application). That is, if the gadget goes to sleep while the resource is open, this time will not be taken into account.

9. Full data instead of sampling

When faced with large amounts of data, Universal Analytics used only a subset of the information for reporting. On the one hand, this offloaded the servers and the system itself, and on the other hand, the client received reports with a certain degree of error. Sample sessions were capped at 500K for Analytics Standard and 100M for Analytics 360.

The new Analytics creates reports without sampling.

10. Data storage limit

Universal Analytics users could request data for any historical period. In the new version, there were restrictions. Here you can set the storage period 2 or 14 months.

Data storage in Google Analytics
Data storage in Google Analytics

11. Remarketing Lists and Predictions

After you link your new analytics account to your Google Ads ad account, you’ll be able to work with audiences. First, they can be used as remarketing lists. And secondly, to predict the likelihood that the visitor will make a purchase and the likelihood of users refusing to visit the site or application in the future. For this, special predictive metrics are used.

12. Additional data instead of special indicators

Perhaps due to low demand, perhaps for some other reason, the creators of Google Analytics decided to remove the function of working with special indicators. Their meaning was to store numerical data that is unique to the user, which is not collected by the system by default. For example, the percentage of visitors who read reviews, etc. In the new App + Web analytics, you can add an “advanced metrics” event category and define your own parameters.

Additional Google Analytics data

13. Instead of custom parameters, custom properties

In order to work with the configurable parameters, you need to open the “settings” tab in Google Analytics 4 start tracking using the Google Tag Manager. To do this, you need to connect a programmer with knowledge of JavaScript to the work. The maximum number of custom properties is 25.

Custom properties

14. Views and View Filters

Views are an integral part of your Google Analytics account structure. In the schematic representation of the pyramid, they are located at its base. At the same time, in the new version, the user no longer has the ability to customize views. Instead, work with data streams and audiences is open.

Google Analytics account structure

Accordingly, there are no view filters either. You can create standard filters in analytic reports.

Analytics reports

15. Regular Expressions

If in Universal Analytics regular expressions were as accessible as possible and they could be used everywhere, then in App + Web they are used only in the form of report tables. They can also be used to create new audiences.

Regular expressions

16. Less standard reports

The structure of new Analytics reports has also undergone changes. So far, the service offers four options for a standard report: by users, demographics, behavior and technology.

Standard Google Analytics reports

17. New features instead of custom reports

You can now get comprehensive information about visitors to your site or application using the free Analyze feature. Another useful new feature is Google BigQuery cloud storage, which is also free.

Custom reports

18. Funnel analysis is now free

Previously, funnels were only available in the paid version of Google Analytics 360. Now they are open to every user. The path where you find them: Explore > Analysis > Funnel Analysis.

Google Analytics funnel analysis

19. Analysis of the intersection of segments is also free

As in the situation with funnels, segment analysis required the purchase of Google Analytics 360. The main advantage of this tool is that it visualizes and allows you to visually see the relationship between user segments. You can not only compare segments but also classify them according to certain criteria, create new audiences based on this data.

Segment intersection analysis

20. The ability to analyze the user’s path

This is another feature that comes from Google Analytics 360. Analytics lets you see how visitors get to your site or app. Analysis can be carried out both from the starting point (the beginning of the path) and to the final point.

analyze user path

With this tool, you can explore both all users and individual segments. Each user step can be configured as an event or view. The maximum number of steps that can be added is 10. Next, you will see all the available paths.

all available paths in Google Analytics

21. New path to user statistics

This report was also available in the previous version of Analytics. Trending Path for Google Analytics 4: Explore > Analysis > User Explorer. This report is no longer focused on the session, but rather on the user and event.

A new path to user statistics

22. New integrations

Analytics 4 has introduced a number of free integrations. BigQuery opens up more opportunities for data analysis. But working with it will require additional knowledge. Also, in the near future it is planned to integrate with Search Console, Display & amp; Video 360, Search Ads 360.

New integrations

Google Analytics 4 is gradually opening up new possibilities for deeper data analysis and making it more accessible with free tools. Web analytics has become more complex and somewhat more complex. There is still time for the transition to the new version, besides, some of the options will have to wait, and during this time to adapt to the new product. Our Internet Marketing Agency Web-Sci can help you with this.

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