2. What are the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics?
The main difference is that GA4 uses a different tracking and data measurement model. In Universal Analytics an event has a Category, Action, and Label and represents its own hit type, whereas in GA4 every hit is an event. In GA4, events don’t have Category, Action, and Label and thus don’t display these. Another difference is that the latest Google Analytics version can track website and app data within one property, instead of separating those into different ones.
Some UA metrics don’t have equivalents in GA4, and vice versa, so there’s a limit to which users can compare the two. Both UA and GA4 are based on different data models and many metrics are calculated differently. Some UA metrics don’t even exist on GA4, but the metrics library is gradually being updated.
Conversions and Goals
In UA, conversions were created when a goal was achieved, and users were only able to use up to 20 goals per property.
Goals are not available anymore in GA4. Instead, it is possible to mark any event as a conversion and there is no limit to how many you can mark.
Confusingly, despite being different, the same name is used for some metrics in both versions of the analytics software. Users are seen as active users in GA4, whereas UA considered them to be the total users.
Bounce rate was only added to Google Analytics 4 at the end of July. Google has tweaked it a bit. In UA, it was the percentage of sessions with only one pageview or interaction (event). Now three different conditions are measured for a visit to not be deemed as a bounce:
- a user stays on a page for at least 10 seconds
- a session consists of two or more page view events
- the session produced a conversion.
At least one of the above has to be met to be considered an engaged session. If none are met, it’s a bounce. This actually makes more sense now, as users who got what they wanted after only one interaction aren’t considered bounces.
Google also allows you to expand the session timeout (the minimum amount of time a user has to stay on a page to not be considered a bounce). You can do this easily on the new GA4 interface.
Conversion rate is divided into two types now:
- Session conversion rate – which is equivalent to the UA version of the conversion rate
- User conversion rate – here, we divide users who converted at least once by all users
Google Analytics 4 is still in development and, as mentioned before, new metrics (or old ones from UA) are being added continuously. The new analytics software also collects a lot of data right from the start, without needing them set up specifically, such as Page Views, Scrolls, Site Search and Video Engagement. Google offers a helpful overview of all metrics across GA4 and Universal Analytics.