GA4 vs. Universal Analytics: Key Differences

We’re now officially a year away from forced migration from Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4—and Jordan Digital Marketing is here to help! In this post, we’ll look at the key differences between GA4 and UA and how to use this understanding to plan your migration (although you can feel free to skip reading this and download our full guide to GA4 Migration instead).

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Wait... What's Happening to Universal Analytics?

As a reminder of why we’re here, Google launched GA4 in October 2020 as privacy regulations and consumer expectations evolved. The idea, broadly, is to move marketers away from pixels and IP addresses and to a greater customer-centric understanding of user engagement. This shift means that many of the UA reports we’ve come to know and rely on will be moot, and that GA4 is offering a much more flexible, customizable playground for marketers to set up reports that give them significant business insights.

 

Different Default Screens

When you first log into GA4, you’ll notice how different it is. Here’s the default for UA:

Screenshot of the Homepage for Google Universal Analytics.

…and for GA4:

Screenshot of the Homepage of Google GA4.

 

Different Reporting Process

When you first log into GA4 and start playing around, you’ll notice that Google is being much less prescriptive about your reporting. The building blocks are there, but you have to arrange them yourselves. And critically, many of them will rely on tags and triggers set up in Google Tag Manager (a much bigger player in GA4 than in UA).

 


 

The upshot: GA4 is more flexible, requires more set-up time and resources, and works in tandem with GTM to move marketers away from pixels and IP addresses and into a more customer-centric, privacy-friendly world of data and insights. And if you’d like to dig into more of the details, including recommendations for when to migrate and how to set up some fundamental reports, download our complete guide.

GA4 Migration download

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