Blast Analytics and Marketing

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

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ga4 versus universal header

Understanding the Differences Between GA Universal and GA4

The New Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the next generation of Google Analytics. GA4 is designed to be more scalable and more privacy-centric, with higher limits and less sampling. The event-based tracking framework and cross-device capabilities will enable a holistic view of data across websites and mobile apps.

The GA Universal versus GA4 comparison tables below will help you understand some of the high-level differences of what will and won’t be changing with the New Google Analytics. When Google announces the features and functionality in the New Google Analytics 360 beyond what you’ll get in GA4 Standard, that information will be added to this page.

Download the full list comparing 100+ features in more detail

Google is continually evolving the features and functionality of GA4, and this page will be updated periodically to reflect changes from the latest releases and announcements. Last updated 9/30/2021.

Reporting

GA4’s standard reporting interface is more streamlined and simplified compared to its Universal counterpart. GA360 users will recognize GA4’s more flexible “Explore” reporting interface, which was formerly called “Analysis (Beta)” in GA Universal 360.

Feature GA Standard (Universal) GA 360 (Universal) New GA (GA4) New GA 360 (GA4)
Real-Time Reports Yes, included Yes, included Yes, included – with increased granularity To be announced
Page Value Used in Default Reports Page Path Page Path Page Title To be announced
Custom Reports
  • Legacy dashboards
  • Custom reports
  • Legacy dashboards
  • Custom reports
  • Explore Beta (formerly Analysis Beta)
  • Explore (formerly Analysis)
  • Basic configurable overview or detail reports that can be added to the to main navigation
To be announced
Custom Funnel Reports Not included Yes, included Yes, included To be announced
Audiences 20 per property 50 per property 100 per property To be announced

Want to know more about how Google is addressing many reporting gaps with GA4, including the introduction of sankey pathing visualizations and robust cohort reports? Download the full comparison list.

GA Data Collection

Custom dimensions, custom metrics, UTM campaign tracking parameters, and enhanced ecommerce won’t change too radically in Google Analytics 4. See below for information on the number of available goals, custom dimensions, and custom metric slots in the New Google Analytics.

Feature GA Standard (Universal) GA 360 (Universal) New GA (GA4) New GA 360 (GA4)
Number of Goals / Conversions 20 goals per view 20 goals per view 30 conversion events per property To be announced
Event Tracking Naming Conventions Event Category / Event Action / Event Label Event Category / Event Action / Event Label Event Name / Event Parameters To be announced
Number of Custom Dimensions 20 200 75 total
(50 event-scoped + 25 user-scoped)
To be announced
Number of Custom Metrics 20 200 50 To be announced
Cross-Domain Tracking Yes, included – via GTM Yes, included – via GTM Yes, included – via GA4 Admin To be announced

For more information about how UTMs and Channel Groupings will change and what Data Import options are currently available in GA4, Download the full comparison list.

Product Integrations

The ability of Google Analytics to integrate with other tools in the Google Marketing Platform is a huge advantage over other analytics tools. Not all product linking options exist in GA4 yet, but the addition of the BigQuery integration with the free/standard version of GA4 is a major upgrade from GA Universal.

Feature GA Standard (Universal) GA 360 (Universal) New GA (GA4) New GA 360 (GA4)
Google Ads Yes, included Yes, included Yes, included To be announced
BigQuery Not included Yes, included Yes, included To be announced
Google Ad Manager Not included Yes, included Yes, included To be announced
Google Optimize Yes, included Yes, included Not included To be announced
Display & Video 360 Yes, included Yes, included Not included To be announced
Download the full comparison list.

Google Analytics Admin Configurations

Configuring your Google Analytics property is one of the first steps to collecting data. In Admin it is possible to set up your architecture, manage user permissions, filter out unwanted traffic, delete data, and set up alerts. Here are a few ways GA Universal’s Admin settings differ from GA4’s Admin configurations.

Feature GA Standard (Universal) GA 360 (Universal) New GA (GA4) New GA 360 (GA4)
Account Architecture Account > Property > View
(data is collected at property level, reports are viewed at view level)
Account > Property > View (data is collected at property level, reports are viewed at view level) Account > Property > Stream (data is collected at the stream level, reports are viewed at the property level) To be announced
Data Retention*
  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Do not automatically expire
  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Do not automatically expire
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
To be announced
Analytics Alerts Evaluation Frequency
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily
  • Hourly (web only)
To be announced
Customized Report Navigation Not included Not included Yes, included To be announced
Data deletion: for only specific values for a given dimension in specified time frame Not included Not included Yes, included To be announced

* The data retention setting does not affect standard aggregated reports in your Google Analytics 4 property. The data retention setting only affects Explorations reports.

Want to know more about all the new Admin options that will be available in GA4? Download the full comparison list.

Data Processing

Benefits of GA4 include its focus on higher data thresholds, less sampling, and user privacy. The table below outlines a few ways in which GA4 will process data differently than GA Universal, including how users and sessions are defined. Expect both users and sessions to be lower in Google Analytics 4.

Feature GA Standard (Universal) GA 360 (Universal) New GA (GA4) New GA 360 (GA4)
Session Definition / Expiration
  • after 30 minutes of inactivity
  • after UTM parameters change
  • if a session is longer than 4 hours
  • at midnight
  • after 30 minutes of inactivity
  • after UTM parameters change
  • if a session is longer than 4 hours
  • at midnight
  • after 30 minutes of inactivity
To be announced
User Definition / Reporting Identity
  • GA Client ID in standard views
  • Custom user_id in User ID-enabled views
  • GA Client ID in standard views
  • Custom user_id in User ID-enabled views
Combination of User-ID, Google Signals, and GA Client ID To be announced
Data Sampling Threshold 500,000 sessions at the property level for the date range selected 100 million sessions at the view level for the date range selected 10 million events per query To be announced
Data Import Query Time Processing Not included Yes, included
  • User data and offline-event data are joined at collection/processing time
  • Cost and item data are joined at reporting/query time
To be announced
Bot Filtering Yes, included– can be configured Yes, included– can be configured Yes, included– enabled by default and not configurable To be announced

Want to see the extended list? Download the full comparison list.

Consultant Spotlight

Blast consultant Ryan Chase

Meet Ryan Chase

Senior Analytics Consultant
Ryan is a Senior Analytics Consultant at Blast Analytics. He is passionate about helping businesses improve their usage of data to make better decisions. He has experience across industries and analytics platforms to help set and meet long term business goals.

We’ve worked with Blast for well over three years and have benefited greatly from their guidance and support. The Blast team is well-informed, responsive and committed to supporting our initiatives, making them invaluable partners. Ryan especially is a wonderful teacher, very patient, incredibly knowledgeable, and extremely very passionate.

Divya Sanatham – Sr. Business Intelligence Engineer
Techstyle

Blast GA4 Consultant

As Certified Google Analytics Consultants we can help you design and implement a migration plan to get you up and running on Google Analytics 4. We strongly encourage dual-tagging: continue collecting data in GA Universal, but start collecting data in GA4 as soon as possible. This will ensure you have ample historical data as you transition away from GA Universal to GA4 as your digital analytics system of record.

If you’re interested in the benefits of the New Google Analytics 360 with GA4, contact us to learn about joining the beta program or to learn more about licensing GA4 360.

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If you have questions or you’re ready to discuss how Google Analytics 4 or Standard can help you EVOLVE your organization, talk to a Blast Solutions Consultant.

Call 1 (888) 252-7866 or contact us below.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your information below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your email below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your email below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your email below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your email below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.

Google Analytics 4 vs. GA Universal Comparison

Please enter your email below to download the full comparison table containing 100+ features.