22 key differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal 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.
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.
3. New analytics code format
The familiar UA-XXXXXXX code format has now been changed to G-XXXXXXXXXX.
4. Default 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.
The first version of the “_ga” file, as in Universal Analytics, stores a custom ClientID.
The second cookie is in the format “_ga_XXXXXX” and is used for the 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).
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
13. Instead of custom parameters, 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.
Accordingly, there are no view filters either. You can create standard filters in analytic 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.