What is GA4 and Should You Care? (Hint: Yes).

G What Now?

For those of you who need a crash course before we even begin, let’s take a brief dive into the vast ocean that is analytics, both Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4. Universal Analytics was Google’s first iteration of software dedicated to tracking and analyzing website and app information and providing insights into customer behavior and preferences as they explore your site.

Universal Analytics was a pioneering program when it first came out. However, its replacement brings with it many new features to help you in your pursuit of business excellence and improved data security.

So what are the differences, anyway?

If you’ve been blissfully unaware there’s a new data analytics program in town, you might be wondering what makes the new kid better than the old. GA4 has built itself upon a solid foundation laid by UA, but it has unique features that will allow you to leverage data in more comprehensive ways while offering a more secure user experience. Here are a few of the key differences:

Data Collection

  • UA: Tracked the traffic to your website pages or apps within a specific timeframe.
  • GA4: Goes a step further and tracks what users did as they interacted with your content, giving you a more detailed report on user behavior.
  • Why it matters: Anyone can stumble upon a webpage by accident and just as promptly leave, so mere traffic reports can be somewhat flawed. Measuring actions taken within a session not only means a user was on your site on purpose but can inform what aspects of your product or services are attracting views and interactions.


  • UA: Offered a few custom options, but they were limited and often required complicated manual setups.
  • GA4: Given that the enhancement tracks events instead of merely website or app traffic, its data is inherently tailored to your business and what specifically is attracting your audience.
  • Why it matters: Any information you can glean as to the motivations behind your customer interactions means that you can ramp up what is working while refining lower-traffic areas of your online offerings.

Cross-platform Tracking

  • UA: Built for the analysis of website-based media.
  • GA4: Seamlessly integrates data from both website and mobile events.
  • Why it matters: Today more and more online interactions are done via mobile apps, and being able to analyze both website and mobile traffic together will give you a more holistic view of what is working on your site.

Machine Learning

  • UA: Had no machine learning capabilities.
  • GA4: Integrates machine learning capabilities.
  • Why it matters: Machine learning is just what it sounds like – AI can automatically analyze the data GA4 tracks and offer increased insight (like predictive analytics) to help you hone your marketing and business strategies going forward.

Privacy Controls

  • UA: Had limited data controls for data collection and privacy.
  • GA4: Offers more complex data controls such as granular consent settings and support for current privacy procedures with the capability to evolve as regulations change.
  • Why it matters: Your customers want to feel secure not only in their transactions but also in everything leading up to them. Ensuring information is gathered in an ethical way reinforces your commitment to personal privacy and security.

In viewing the differences, it’s clear that GA4 offers a more comprehensive experience for your customers and more insight for you as an industry leader. More information is always good information (unless you’re doing a late-night WebMD search, in which case, log off, it’s just a headache). Taking a peek behind the screen to understand the motivations of your customer base can lead to a better experience for them and a better bottom line for you, and GA4 puts more tools in your hand to do just that.