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What is the Most Important Change From UA to GA4?

It seems like the time is slowly approaching when Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take over. Google announced that the current Google Analytics platform (Universal Analytics), will no longer collect data as of July 2023.

So, website and app owners have no alternative but to make a switch to GA4.

But, what is the difference between these two models, and why it is important to migrate as soon as possible? Let’s find out.

Why do We need to Know The Difference Between GA3 (Universal Analytics) and GA4?

Well, the most important thing is learning the difference between these two models which will help you identify anomalies in the configuration and help you understand how to read the metrics.

As of now, you probably already know that Universal Analytics and GA4 use different data models.

The old version GA3 is based on pageviews and sessions, whereas the new GA4 property is based on parameters and events.

This means that both models collect, process, and report data in different ways.

Differences Between UA and GA4

There are quite a few notable changes in the new Google Analytics 4, and we will start with the most obvious one, the reporting interface. If you need help with the migration, remember there are companies that can assist you. 

You can check the Google Analytics 4 migration services by Fortis Media and get assistance to do the migration without losing precious time for your business.

Reporting Interface

Before you start the migration process, it is important to know that reports that were available in UA, won’t look the same in GA4.

At first glance over the new GA4 interface, we can identify that many metrics are missing.

The reason why you are missing many reports is that they can only be generated when you start tracking events. So, in order to get the full potential of GA4, you’ll need to set up specific events that need to be tracked.

The new GA4 model also features different names for the same metrics that we used to track UA. So, even though the new model has such an option, some won’t be familiar with it due to the different names.

For example:

  • Behavior is now Engagement
  • Conversions are now Monetization
  • Audience is now Demographics

Data Collecting Model

Another big difference that we mentioned earlier is the difference in the measurement model, which introduces a whole new way of tracking, recording, and reporting data on the GA4 property.

The Universal Analytics model is based on sessions and pageviews, and the new GA4 model is based on events and parameters.

In other words, a pageview in GA4 is considered an event.

Tracking ID

Another important difference between these two models is the tracking ID used to enable the model to collect data.

With GA4 we use measurement ID to set up any type of tracking, compared to UA which uses Tracking ID as a code.

Therefore if you managed to set up your new GA4 property with a web data stream, your measurement ID should begin with the characters “G-”.

Data Steam and View Setup

Google Analytics has always advised us to have a minimum of three views in any Google Analytics property. 

The first is usually the “unfiltered view” that contains raw data, the second should be the “test view” of goals and filter configurations, and the third is the “master view” where you have goals and filters configured.

Another difference comes in terms of views. In GA3, you have the option to create additional views, whereas GA4 standard, won’t allow you to create views.

Instead, you have the option to create data streams for websites and apps.

To Sum Up

There are many differences between UA and GA4, and there should be since Google is forcing us to move to another model. The changes might look overwhelming at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to get the most out of the more powerful GA4 model.

Apart from changes in the interface, the biggest change with the new model that you should pay attention to is the difference in data tracking. 

The new version is based on events and parameters that need to be set up, whereas Universal Analytics is based on sessions and pageviews that are automatically tracked.

What do you think?

Written by Joshua White

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