Google Analytics 4

Explaining the Differences Between Universal Analytics and GA4 Data

After the transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4, many users and marketers have expressed frustration when trying to compare data between the two platforms. As someone who has experienced confusion and frustration while examining my own data and comparing it with UA, I decided to write this blog post to shed some light on why these discrepancies might occur.

Google Analytics 4 Vs Universal Analytics

In UA properties, data is organized into sessions, which serve as the foundation for all reporting. A session represents a sequence of user interactions with your website within a specific timeframe. Throughout a session, Analytics captures and stores various user interactions, referred to as hits, including pageviews, events, and eCommerce transactions. Depending on how users engage with your website, a single session can consist of multiple hits.

On the other hand, in GA4 properties, session data is still available, but Analytics collects and retains user interactions with your website or app as events. Events offer valuable insights into the activities occurring on your website or app, such as pageviews, button clicks, user actions, or system events.

Moreover, events have the capability to capture and transmit additional pieces of information that provide more context or details about the user’s action. This supplementary information might encompass the purchase value, the title of the page the user visited, or the geographic location of the user.

By understanding these fundamental differences between UA and GA4 data organization, you can gain insights into why your data might not align perfectly when comparing the two platforms. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the unique features and data models of GA4 to ensure a more accurate interpretation and analysis of your analytics data.
Google Analytics 4 Vs Universal Analytics
Important Considerations
When comparing data between Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4, it is crucial to keep the following points in mind:

1. Consistent Usage of transaction_id Parameter: 

The transaction_id parameter plays a significant role in data comparison. Inaccurate or inconsistent application of this parameter can result in noticeable differences between the data sets. To ensure data quality and accurate comparisons, it is essential to consistently collect transaction_id data in accordance with the documentation provided.

2. Complete Implementation of Required Parameters: 

To ensure proper recording of ecommerce data in both GA4 and UA, it is important to utilize all the required parameters for ecommerce implementation. By implementing these parameters correctly, you can ensure that ecommerce data is accurately recorded and available for analysis in both platforms.

3. Impact of View Filters on UA Reports: 
It is worth noting that UA reports might exclude certain data based on the view filters applied. These filters can affect the data shown in the reports, potentially leading to differences when compared to GA4 data. It is important to review and understand the view filters applied to your UA reports to ensure that the data being analyzed is comprehensive and accurate.

4. Data Processing Delays in GA4

If you are comparing recent reports, it is important to consider that GA4 may still be processing data. As a result, you might observe differences in the reported data between UA and GA4. For instance, GA4 can update attributed conversions for up to 7 days after the conversion is recorded. It is advisable to allow sufficient time for data processing in GA4 before drawing conclusions or making comparisons.

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