What is the difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 ?
Universal Analytics refers to the previous generation of Google Analytics.
If you set up Google Analytics before October 14, 2020 on your website, your website is likely using a Universal Analytics property, as this was previously the default property type for websites.
Google Analytics 4 (formerly known as “App + Web”) is a new kind of property, with different reports than what you're used to seeing in Universal Analytics properties. Google has adopted a new way of collecting and tracking data while taking into account new privacy regulations. With a new approach to data controls, you can better manage how you collect, store and use your Analytics data.
Here are some benefits of the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) tag:
- Machine learning based functionality: this allows you to automatically obtain accurate and useful insights to fully understand your customers on all devices and platforms. This allows you to improve your marketing decisions and get a better return on investment
- Designed to accommodate a future with or without cookies or identifiers. GA4 uses a flexible approach to measurement and, in the future, will include modeling to fill in the gaps when data is incomplete.
- Better protection against spam
- Better multi-channel conversion analysis: ability to see conversions from YouTube video views alongside conversions from Google and non-Google paid channels, and organic channels such as Google Search, social networks and email. This helps you understand the combined impact of all your marketing efforts.
- Customer-centric measurement instead of fragmented measurement by device or platform: more complete view of how your customers interact with your business, better understanding of your customers throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to conversion and retention.
- Simplified and reorganized reports so you can intuitively find marketing information based on the part of the customer journey that interests you
- Simplified access to the most commonly used measures ("Enhanced measurement")
- Direct link with Google Ads: optimization of ads based on what matters most to customers (interest levels for a particular product, etc.) regardless of how they interact with your company
- Simplification of multi-domain tracking, with no need to modify the tracking code
- Universal Analytics could generate a significant load on Google's servers, so there were access limits. Now, these limits no longer apply to the new GA4 properties. GA4 uses a queuing system so that multiple events can be grouped into the same network request, which means less load on Google servers.
If you want to learn more about the difference between the two, you can read this detailed documentation.
You can also read the announcement of this new generation of tag here.