UA vs GA4: The 4 Big Differences You Need To Know

In this competitive market, marketers mostly debate about UA and GA4. Both are playing important roles in analysis and data tracking.

To make a better decision, you’ll learn 4 big differences you need to know in this guide.

App Tracking

The top item on the list of GA4 features is the tool’s capability to manage website and app data on the same property.

GA4’s measurement model is based on the same foundation used by Google Analytics Firebase (for mobile apps), where all interactions are recorded as events.

The thing with this new structure of the data schema, which unifies the site with the app, is that there will be almost no concerns about merging the data across the two.

A well-reputed digital marketing agency in Houston uses these platforms to keep complete track. 

In UA, tracking of patterns of behavior on specific pages is carried out using predefined categories, actions, and labels, for which website owners have the opportunity to monitor interactions, such as button clicks, form submissions, and video views.

Though manual configuration is possible, custom event tracking might be tedious.

GA4 provides event-driven tracking that includes collecting more than page loading and button-clicking details.

However, events in the form of GA4 are much more adaptable and customizable, as they can have many parameters, group events by dynamic types, and be measured automatically using machine learning algorithms.

GA4 Sessions

GA4 Sessions vs. Universal Analytics

The session metrics often show different values between the UA and GA4 systems. It is an example where the numbers differ between the two systems.

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In UA, one session is considered the total amount of time a user is actively on your website. After landing on your site, these are the things that end a session in UA.

The session will be valid for 30 minutes (or your session timeout settings). The time has revolved exactly by (and on to) midnight (and consequently, a new session has been started)

And new campaign parameters (e.g., you use UTM parameters on your website’s internal links — therefore, Google warns against such action). This sentence is an example of humanization.

The chances are that the session start event in GA4 will return a session ID and associate all subsequent events during the session with the session ID.

 Forging sessions to UA, a session will end 30 minutes after being idle or session timeout settings setting, and the previously mentioned campaigns can carry over across the midnight moment.

They will not be affected by encountering the new campaigns’ parameters. The ambiguity of Sessions for UA and GA4 makes this process very confusing when your websites have an international audience.

Bounce Rate And The Level of Engagement

There are a few metrics that the new GA4 does not include as among these are the bounce metrics.

Bounce Rate And The Level of Engagement

Contrary to the previous reports that took the “negative” approach of reporting on performance rate, Google has elected to take a more “positive” stance and report on engagement rate.

In short metrics, engagement rate is a ratio metric with a percentage form it is reflected. The formula is engaged sessions/sessions.

They are the sessions that are intended to activate the participants in the discussion process.

The sessions include all those in which the session duration was at least 10 seconds or, consisted of at least one conversion event, or had at least two pageviews or screens.

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Is there a bounce rate in GA4 just like this, or is it not?

It is a possibility, but it’s a little bit tricky to add it in GA4. In Google Analytics 4, the bounce rate is calculated as a proportion of sessions that haven’t been engaged sessions.

On the other hand, bounce rate is the negative measure of engagement rate, which is the proportion of engaged sessions to the total number of sessions within the specified period. If we look at UA, bounce rate was defined as the ratio of website surfers who didn’t see more than a page of this website.

Account Structure

In GA Universal, the account structure contains three elements:

Account (to be able to) – Ownership (property) – View

GA4 only contains two elements: access to money and assets. By that, it is a Google Analytics 4 property that does not have any views.

Google also introduced a totally new concept in GA4: data sources. A data stream defines a route of information moving from your website or app to Analytics.

On the other hand, the Universal is right at the property side with a tracking ID, and GA4 has a data stream ID for each stream. Each GA4 property will be permitted to establish up to 50 data streams or 30 app data streams.

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Jonathon Spire

Jonathon Spire

Tech Blogger at Jonathon Spire

My diverse background started with my computer science degree, and later progressed to building laptops and accessories. And now, for the last 7 years, I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant.

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Jonathon Spire

I blog about a range of tech topics.

For the last 7 years I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant, so I write about those the most.

Full transparency: I do review a lot of services and I try to do it as objectively as possible; I give honest feedback and only promote services I believe truly work (for which I may or may not receive a commission) – if you are a service owner and you think I have made a mistake then please let me know in the comments section.

– Jon