In today's digital age, understanding the behaviour of your online visitors is critical for anyone who owns a website. But to understand their behaviour, you need to collect some data
The most popular tool used to gather data that provides valuable insights into website traffic and user behaviour has always been Google Analytics, less commonly known as Universal Analytics.
However, with the recent announcement that Universal Analytics will shut down forever on July 1st 2023, many businesses and website owners may wonder: How do they compare to one another? What are the new features? And is the latter version ultimately better?
Universal Analytics is the previous version of Google's web analytics, a platform that has been widely used since its release in 2012. It is a traditional analytics platform that provides website owners with insights into their website traffic and user behaviour.
Let's take a look at some of the key features of Universal Analytics:
Universal Analytics uses a pageview-based data model, which means that data is collected based on pageviews and events. This provides website owners with insights into the performance of individual pages on their websites.
Universal Analytics allows the user to create custom dimensions and metrics, which are used to track and analyze specific aspects of user behaviour.
UA gives its users the ability to track user behaviour across multiple domains, such as different subdomains or external ones.
It has a plethora of reporting options to choose from, including real-time reporting, custom reports, and dashboards.
Google Analytics 4 is a newer version of Google's web analytics platform, released in 2020. Designed to provide a more holistic view of user behaviour across devices and platforms, while also offering more advanced data modelling and machine learning capabilities.
Some of the key features of Google Analytics 4 include:
Google Analytics 4 uses an event-driven data model, meaning that all user interactions on the website are treated as events. This allows website owners to track and analyze user behaviour in a more granular way.
Website owners can track user behaviour across multiple devices, including desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. This provides a more complete view of the customer journey and allows website owners to optimize their website experience accordingly.
Google Analytics 4 uses advanced machine learning algorithms to provide insights into user behaviour and help website owners identify trends and patterns in their data.
Privacy features, such as data retention controls and automatic data deletion are incorporated to ensure compliance with privacy regulations.
While Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics share some similarities, there are also several key differences between the two platforms, and here are the main ones:
1. Data Modeling and Reporting Differences
One of the main differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics is the way they handle data modelling and reporting. Google Analytics 4 uses a more advanced data modelling approach that incorporates machine learning and AI to provide businesses with more detailed insights into user behaviour. In contrast, Universal Analytics provides more traditional reporting capabilities that are based on pageviews and events.
2. Event Tracking and Measurement Differences
Another significant difference between the two platforms is the way they track and measure user behaviour. Google Analytics 4 uses an event-driven data model that tracks all user interactions on a website, including page views, clicks, and other user actions. This provides businesses with a more granular view of user behaviour across devices and platforms. In contrast, Universal Analytics uses a pageview-based data model that tracks user behaviour based on pageviews and events.
3. User Privacy and Data Retention Differences
Finally, there are differences in how Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics handle user privacy and data retention. Google Analytics 4 incorporates several privacy features, such as data retention controls and automatic data deletion, to help businesses comply with privacy regulations. In contrast, Universal Analytics provides more limited privacy controls and requires businesses to manually delete data after a certain period.
4. Integration with Google Ads
Finally, GA4 is integrated with Google Ads, making it easier to track and optimize ad campaigns. It allows you to measure conversions across multiple touchpoints and create more targeted audiences for your ads. This integration can save you time and effort when managing your advertising campaigns, while also providing more accurate and actionable data.
Google Analytics 4 Pros:
Google Analytics 4 Cons:
Universal Analytics Pros:
Universal Analytics Cons:
In summary, Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics are two powerful web analytics tools that provide businesses and website owners with insights into user behaviour and website performance.
While they share some similarities, they differ significantly in terms of data modelling, event tracking, and user privacy.
Google Analytics 4 is the more advanced and flexible platform, crafted to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for data and take the analytics game to the next level.
Though the software is still relatively new, seeing that it is building upon its predecessor, we can safely assume it will be a safe bet in the long run.