Universal Analytics VS GA4

Differences and benefits of GA and GA4

GA4 Overview

Less emphasis on structured reports, GA4 is organised around the lifecycle & allows you more freedom in building your own analysis/reports to suit your organisation. You can now combine what it refers to as ‘Data Streams’ into one property, which is incredibly valuable for analysis. e.g combining the iOS app, android app & website, whilst also being empowered to combine your GA4 & Google Ads data in Big Query.

Key benefits

  • GA4 measures “hits” on the session level like the old Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 measures “events” on the user property level.
  • Focuses on the user journey more so than UA
  • Google Analytics 4 can automatically pull data from your website and app properties
  • Google Analytics 4 doesn’t track bounce rate but instead a new metric called engagement rate.
  • You can do way more advanced analysis, which typically was only found in GA360 but now available in GA4 e.g. segmentation and customised funnels.

Why move over?

Universal Analytics has been behind for quite some time and is very structured around its own data model, being dimensions and metrics. GA4 is all about an event stream, things that happen on a page, such as add to cart, without the previous structure imposed by universal GA. As well as events properties, you are now empowered to create user properties.

The newer approach allows each event to have any number of properties you’d like, making it far more customizable & allowing you to tag anything that might be useful to understand about each event. Some of the events are out of the box and other more flexible events can be set up by the end user.


Within your universal GA account, you’ll need to add each data stream that you wish to link up to GA4. Tagging works in exactly the same way as UA, which can be deployed to the website or via Google Tag Manager if you have this on, either option is available. Ensure that this tag is on every page so that Google is able to automatically begin collecting data. In theory, if you have universal analytics on your site already, you can connect GA-4 to this existing tag. For now, it’s not a problem to deploy both the universal analytics and GA4 tag on your site. Once you’re happy with your GA4 set up, you can always turn off the universal analytics tag.