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What is Google Analytics 4? Comparing GA4 to Universal Analytics

Google Analytics has long been a cornerstone for website analytics, providing businesses and website owners with valuable insights into user behavior and website performance. In October 2020, Google introduced the next iteration of its analytics platform – Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This article aims to explore what GA4 is and compare it with its predecessor, Universal Analytics.

Google Analytics 4 Overview:

  1. Event-Driven Tracking:
  • GA4 introduces event-driven tracking as the primary method of data collection. This means that events, such as pageviews, clicks, and interactions, take center stage in tracking user activity.
  • In Universal Analytics, the focus was on pageviews, sessions, and other predefined metrics.
  1. User-Centric Model:
  • GA4 shifts towards a user-centric model, allowing for more detailed tracking of individual user journeys across devices and platforms.
  • Universal Analytics relies on a session-centric model, where data is primarily organized around sessions and pageviews.
  1. Enhanced Machine Learning:
  • GA4 incorporates advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide more accurate predictions and insights.
  • Universal Analytics lacks the same level of machine learning capabilities, making GA4 more adept at understanding user behavior patterns and predicting outcomes.
  1. Cross-Platform Tracking:
  • GA4 emphasizes cross-platform tracking, enabling businesses to gain a comprehensive view of user interactions across websites, apps, and other digital platforms.
  • Universal Analytics focuses more on tracking individual platforms separately.
  1. User Privacy and Consent:
  • GA4 is designed with privacy in mind, offering more flexible options for user consent management and compliance with evolving privacy regulations.
  • Universal Analytics has fewer built-in features for managing user consent and privacy concerns.
  1. Event Configuration and Reporting:
  • GA4 provides a more flexible event configuration system, allowing users to define and track custom events tailored to their specific business goals.
  • In Universal Analytics, event tracking is more rigid, and customization is comparatively limited.
  1. User Interface and Reporting:
  • GA4 boasts a more intuitive and user-friendly interface with enhanced reporting capabilities.
  • Universal Analytics has a more traditional interface, and some users may find GA4’s interface more modern and streamlined.
  1. Audiences and Segmentation:
  • GA4 introduces more robust audience-building features, allowing users to create detailed segments based on a wide range of criteria.
  • Universal Analytics also supports audience segmentation but may not be as comprehensive as GA4.


While Universal Analytics has been a staple for web analytics for many years, Google Analytics 4 represents a significant evolution in the field. GA4’s focus on user-centric tracking, enhanced machine learning capabilities, and improved cross-platform insights make it a powerful tool for businesses aiming to understand and optimize their online presence. However, the decision to migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4 should be considered carefully, taking into account specific business needs, data migration efforts, and the learning curve associated with the new platform. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, GA4 stands as a forward-looking solution that aligns with the changing needs of businesses and the emphasis on user privacy and comprehensive data analytics.

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