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Apr 27, 2023
Google Analytics

Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4 (Part 1)

Google Analytics 4 is taking over. By Ying Wang

It’s been a couple of months since Google announced that Universal Analytics is going to end in July 2023. Are you ready to migrate from UA to GA4? Do check out the blog post written by Sanu Maharjan, explaining GA4 data structure and how to extract important metrics (Read).

I would believe there is still plenty of confusion around the key differences between UA and GA4. Therefore, we will have a closer look at the fundamental differences between these two Googe Analytics platforms, and the points we should take into consideration.

The main differences between UA and GA4

Reporting Interface

There are some differences between the reporting views of UA and GA4. As you are aware, some of the reports and metrics you were familiar with are either missing or have been replaced.

​Reporting Interface - UA:

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Reporting Interface - GA4:

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The navigation options in UA and GA4 have changed a bit in both analytics platforms.

  • You can reach the default reports in “Reports”. From there you can find:
  • Real-Time in both.
  • (UA) Acquisition -> (GA4) Acquisition
  • (UA) Behaviour -> (GA4) Engagement
  • (UA) Conversions -> (GA4) Monetisation
  • (UA) Audience -> (GA4) Demographics

For sure the reports are not the same, but they show in each case the same kind of data.

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The Biggest Difference in Measuring Models

  • Universal Analytics (UA): the measurement model is based on sessions and pageviews. A session refers to a set of interactions between a user and a website within a given timeframe. Multiple page views, entries, and eCommerce transactions may be included.

  • Google Analytics (GA4): the measurement model is based on events and parameters. Every interaction on the website/app is an event. UA interaction types in GA4 will be converted to events. (Read more)
Bildschirmfoto 2022-09-20 um 17.40.00.png

By now, you probably know that UA and GA4 use different data models. Data collection, processing, and presentation can vary between these two.

Free limits for Connecting GA4 with BigQuery (BQ)

There is no doubt that the free GA4-BigQuery linking is one of its most promising features. This service is completely free of charge. In other words, there are no costs associated with exporting data from GA4 properties to BQ. But, if the export exceeds the one-million-event daily limit, Analytics pause the daily exports immediately and continues the next day.

However, UA does not come with a free connection to BQ unless you are using Google Analytics 360.

List of the advantages:

  • No data sampling is needed
  • You can export all of your custom event parameters and dimensions
  • You will be able to connect GA4 data with third-party APIs
  • Allow pushing data from BQ to a wide range of data visualization tools (i.g. Google Data Studio, Power BI, Tableau, etc.)
  • Data correction options
  • Custom channel grouping


Before switching over, taking full advantage of these changes requires that we understand them completely. At least, we have already received several main details about the features that will be modified in GA4.

To assist you with the transition from UA to GA4, we will have further posts coming next, with all the details of the changes inside the Google Analytics platform.

Further Links

The article is part of the series Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4 from datadice. The posts will explain the differences between UA and GA4 and set a focus on the new GA4 features.

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