GA4 - what is new

GA4 replaces Google Analytics Universal – what you need to know?

GA4 replaces Google Analytics Universal – what do you need to know?

Google Analytics 4 Google’s next-generation measurement tool.

Google launches the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) which will replace the current well-known (and user-friendly!) Google Analytics Universal starting from July 1, 2023!

On July 1, 2023, standard Google Analytics Universal properties will stop processing data. Your Analytics Universal data will be kept for at least 6 more months after July 1st. If you need to keep your past Universal data, the best way to do that is by exporting it as soon as we hit July.

Our team of dedicated specialists at Relton Associates strongly encourages you to make the switch to GA4 as soon as possible and will be more than happy to help you with this!

Google Analytics Universal vs Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Are you wondering what’s new in GA4? Is GA4 actually better than Google Analytics Universal? We will try to find the answers to these questions below.

1. New Reporting Interface

The first main difference is the new reporting interface in GA4. You will find that most of the reports have been renamed or replaced – for example, in GA4 you will see new reports such as Retention, Engagement and Monetisation replacing the good old Audience, Behaviour and Converisons. The reason for this is the new data measurement model.

Interface of Google Analytics Universal

Interface of Google Analytics Universal 

New interface of GA4

New interface of GA4


2. New Data Measurement Model

The greatest difference between Google Analytics Universal and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the different data models they use. Whilst Google Analytics Universal is based on sessions and pageviews, the GA4 data model is based on events and parameters. In GA4 every tracked activity taken by a user is considered an event.

Google Analytics Universal vs Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics Universal vs Google Analytics 4

At the same time, Google Analytics Universal tracks screenviews in separate mobile-specific properties, whereas GA4 combines both web and app data in the same property. If you are tracking both web and app data in your GA4 property, be sure to take the additional app traffic into consideration when comparing pageview metrics between the two.

3. No Bounce Rate and New Reporting Metrics

With Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you get new metrics along with new reports. Surprisingly, you will notice that there is no Bounce Rate metric in GA 4 (or at least as it’s calculated in Google Analytics Universal). GA 4 replaces ‘Bounce Rate’ with the new ‘Engagement Rate’ metric.

What is considered Bounce Rate in GA4 is the percentage of sessions that were not engaged sessions. In other words, the Engagement Rate is the inverse of Bounce Rate. Google’s explanation for this is that Bounce Rate has become less useful as websites and apps have changed. GA4 is more event and action-oriented than Google Analytics Universal and this new way of tracking doesn’t make much sense to have a metric describing inactivity on the site.

Another important and new metric you will find in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is called ‘Pages and screens’ and shows the most popular web pages and app screens. It is easier than ever to find what web pages or app screens are getting most of your traffic now (and what do not perform as you expect!).

4. Advanced Analysis

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) gives you the opportunity to perform more advanced analysis compared to Google Analytics Universal where you can create custom reports and use secondary dimensions to uncover insights.

GA4 takes the analysis one step further with its Exploration reports which allow you to gain deeper insights about users and their journeys. You can set up a custom report or use prebuilt templates for different analysis in GA4, whilst being offered to add different segments, dimensions, and metrics to your custom reports. However, Exploration reports might be found more complicated, especially for beginners, and may be suitable for people with advanced Google Analytics knowledge.

Would Google Analytics 4 affect my Google Ads campaigns?

The straight answer here is ‘Yes’ but only in some cases! Please remember that Google Analytics Universal will stop processing data after July 1, 2023 (July 1, 2024 for Analytics 360 properties). If your Google Analytics Universal property is linked to your Google Ads account, Universal Analytics data will stop flowing to Google Ads after July 1 2023 (or 2024 for Analytics 360 properties) and this could affect your Google Ads campaigns if you’re:

  • Bidding on imported Universal Analytics goals or e-commerce transactions.
  • Using a Universal Analytics audience in your campaigns.
  • Importing Universal Analytics site metrics.

GA4 summary

We hope this article helps you find the main differences between the good old Google Analytics Universal and the new monster called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). If you haven’t migrated your Google Analytics Universal to GA4, we would strongly recommend addressing this as soon as possible. And if you need help from specialists, Relton Associates would be more than happy to help you with this!