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Universal Analytics vs GA4 in Detail: A Comprehensive Comparison


Google Analytics has long been the preferred platform for businesses and marketers when it comes to web analytics. Many people are curious how Google Analytics 4 (GA4) compares to Universal Analytics in light of its recent release. In this article, we’ll examine the key distinctions between GA4 and Universal Analytics, comparing all of their functions and features as well as their overall effectiveness.

What is Universal Analytics?

The third iteration of Google Analytics, known as Universal Analytics, was introduced in 2012. It has served as the de facto method for tracking and analyzing websites, assisting companies in gaining knowledge about user behavior, conversion rates, and overall website performance.

Key Features of Universal Analytics

  • Pageview tracking
  • Event tracking
  • E-commerce tracking
  • Multi-channel funnels
  • Audience segmentation

What is GA4?

The most recent version of Google Analytics is GA4, which was released in 2020. It incorporates machine learning capabilities for improved insights and decision-making and is intended to give a more comprehensive picture of customer behavior across platforms and devices.

Key Features of GA4

  • Event-based data model
  • Cross-platform tracking
  • Enhanced measurement
  • AI-driven insights
  • Integration with Google Ads and GMP

Comparing Universal Analytics and GA4

To help you understand their differences and make an informed choice, we will compare Universal Analytics and GA4 in this section across several criteria.

Data Collection and Processing

Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model, focusing on pageviews and user interactions on a website. Contrarily, GA4 uses an event-driven data model to track user actions as events, giving it a more detailed understanding of user behavior across platforms.

User Interface

Unlike Universal Analytics, which has a more conventional user interface with pre-set reports and dimensions, GA4 has a more contemporary, streamlined user interface that can be tailored to display the data that is most pertinent to your needs.

Event Tracking

When compared to GA4, which offers enhanced measurement and automatically tracks frequent events like scrolls, video engagement, and outbound clicks, Universal Analytics requires manual setup for event tracking.

Cross-Platform Tracking

While tracking websites are supported by Universal Analytics, tracking mobile apps is only partially supported. With GA4, data from websites, mobile apps, and other platforms can be combined under a single property for cross-platform tracking.


While GA4 is focused on an analysis hub and allows users to create custom reports and explore data using a variety of visualization techniques, Universal Analytics offers a large selection of predefined reports.

Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics

GA4 incorporates machine learning to deliver AI-driven insights, such as identifying trends and anomalies, and offers predictive metrics like purchase probability. These built-in features are absent from Universal Analytics.

Privacy and Data Control

GA4 helps businesses comply with data protection laws like GDPR and CCPA by offering more robust privacy features and data control options.

Migration and Implementation

It might take some time and effort to switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 because the two platforms use different data models and tracking strategies. Nevertheless, Google offers a dual-tagging option that makes it possible to run GA4 and Universal Analytics simultaneously, simplifying the migration process.


Although Universal Analytics has long been the de facto standard in the industry, GA4 introduces a new, event-based data model, improved cross-platform tracking, and machine learning capabilities. Depending on your unique requirements and priorities, you can choose between Universal Analytics and GA4. However, given that GA4 is Google Analytics’ upcoming platform, it might be worthwhile to spend time figuring out and switching to the new system.


1. Can I use both Universal Analytics and GA4 at the same time?

Yes, Google does permit dual tagging, allowing you to run GA4 and UA simultaneously on your website.

2. Does Google intend to stop supporting Universal Analytics?

Although there hasn’t been a formal announcement, GA4 is anticipated to eventually replace Universal Analytics on Google’s platform. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start getting acquainted with GA4.

3. Is it possible for me to import historical data from Universal Analytics into GA4?

There isn’t a direct way to import historical data from Universal Analytics to GA4 at the moment. However, you can run both platforms concurrently to build a historical data set in GA4.

4. Is GA4 suitable for small businesses?

Yes, GA4 is appropriate for companies of all sizes. Small businesses can benefit from the improved features and capabilities provided by GA4 by better understanding their target market and making data-driven decisions.

5. How does GA4 handle user privacy and data regulations?

GA4 offers more powerful privacy features and data control options, assisting companies in adhering to data protection laws like the CCPA and GDPR. Furthermore, GA4 can operate without cookies, guaranteeing compliance with changing privacy standards.


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