In 2023, Google offers users three web analytics systems that allow them to explore user behavior on your site and in your apps. And all three systems are called “Google Analytics”, with different numbers at the end. As a Google Analytics certified agency, we will help you understand what these tools are, and what the differences are between them, and share a simple test of which Google Analytics is right for your company.
What is Universal Analytics
Universal Analytics is a web analytics tool from Google that is installed on the site and allows you to collect information about the number of visitors and visits to the site and individual pages, traffic sources, the behavior of the audience in general and, in particular, the conversions it makes.
In Ukraine, Universal Analytics is often called Google Analytics or simply GA, because it is the most common tool for tracking user actions.
The main page of the service looks like this:
Everyone reading this article has probably worked with her. And most already know that from the summer of 2023 Google plans to stop supporting the product. Therefore, we will not go into detail about the capabilities and features – we will take it as a starting point to explore the rest of the tools.
What Is Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 is Google’s new web analytics tool that replaces Universal Analytics. You can already upgrade your existing Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 and already explore the new reports without losing access to the old interface.
The main feature that distinguishes Google Analytics 4 from its predecessor and affects the philosophy of the product is the ability to simultaneously track users of the site and mobile applications. This affects the service’s approach to data and its interpretation as a whole. For example, instead of tracking the user’s time on the site, as Universal Analytics did, GA4 measures engagement time, which more accurately describes the user’s interaction with the site or application.
Previously, we considered the main differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics. If you are interested in this particular product in detail, read the article as well: Google Analytics 4: Why You Should Update Right Now
Let’s compare the specific differences that Google provides in the help.
|Metric||Universal Analytics||Google Analytics 4|
|Session||Period of time a user is actively engaged with your website or app. |
Has defined parameters for what may cause it to end e.g. a session will end when there has been more than a 30-minute period of inactivity (depending on the session timeout settings), the timestamp has been cut off at midnight (according to the timezone the view is set up in), or new campaign parameters are encountered.
If a user comes back after a session timeout, it will start a new session.
If the user is on the website when midnight arrives, a new session will be started.
If a user picks up new campaign parameters while on the website, a new session will be started.
|aka Session Start|
To determine the session that each event comes from, the session_start event generates a session ID and Analytics associates the session ID with each subsequent event in the session.
A session will end when there has been more than a 30-minute period of inactivity (depending on the session timeout settings)Sessions are not restarted at midnight or when new campaign parameters are encountered.
If a user comes back after a session timeout, it will start a new session.
|Events||A Universal Analytics event has a Category, Action, and Label and is its own hit type.|
For example, an event can be set up to register that a sign-up button has been clicked. The event might have a Category of “CTA”, an Action of “Sign Up”, and a Label that is the destination URL.
Total Events increments each time a Category/Action/Label event is triggered.
|Every “hit” is an event and GA4 events have no notion of Category, Action, or Label. For example, when someone views one of your website pages, a page_view event is triggered. |
All actions are events. Each event name is not necessarily unique (in fact, it’s best practice to reuse the same event name many times, differentiating the event by the parameter values collected). For example, a sign-up might have an event name of sign_up with parameters page_location, product, form_id, and so on. The same event name could (and should) be used on every sign up button across the site (whereas in UA, you would want to use unique event naming for each button).
|Conversions||You define a goal to indicate that a particular user action is to be considered a conversion. For example, if you define a “Form Submit” goal, a conversion will be registered each time a user submits the form.|
UA counts only one conversion per session for each goal. So, if a user submits the form twice during the same session, only one conversion will be counted for the “Form Submit” goal.
|You specify a conversion event for each action that you want to count as a conversion. For example, if you specify that the “Form Submit” event is a conversion event, a conversion will be registered each time a user submits the form.|
GA4 counts every instance of the conversion event, even if the same conversion event is recorded multiple times during the same session. So, if a user submits the form twice during the same session, two conversions will be counted.
Who Is Google Analytics 4 For?
Starting in the summer of 2023, Google Analytics 4 will be the default web analytics for everyone who used Google Analytics before. It can be installed on any site right now.
Google Analytics 4 makes life much easier for anyone who has an app in addition to a website. From food delivery services to political publications, everyone can simultaneously research the audience of the site and the app. And if your users have to log in to use the site and the application, you get full cross-device tracking within one tool, without unnecessary add-ons.
For those who only have a website, without applications, Google Analytics 4 offers a more positive view of the audience. Instead of “rejections”, you will see user engagement, and instead of time on the site, you will see the time of active interaction with the site.
Switching to Google Analytics 4 is now easy. Here is the experience of our client, for whom we configured GA4 in the online store.
What is Google Analytics 360
Google Analytics 360 is a web analytics tool, part of the Google Marketing Platform, which is designed for tracking large sites. We are talking about platforms with several million MAUs, which are not able to “digest” previous tools.
Let’s consider the main differences between Google Analytics 360 and free Google Analytics
|Main Users||Mid-market / SMB clients||Enterprise|
|Data processing||– Subject to data sampling|
– 24-48 hour fresh
– 5,000 row export (for download)
|– Unsampled data|
– 4 hours fresh (max)
– 3 million row export and BigQuery
|Integrations||Google Ads, Google partner inventory, Tag Manager, Data Studio, Optimize||Everything available in the free productPlus Display & Video 360, Google ad manager, Search Ads 360, Google Cloud|
|Enterprise features||N/A||Data driven attribution, roll-up reporting, custom funnels, custom tables|
|Support & service||Self-serve (free product)||Dedicated AM and technical help-desk support with SLA|
Overall, Google Analytics 360 allows businesses to aggregate big data by combining site and app traffic information with CRM data, traffic source information, and some offline data. All this allows you to quickly analyze relevant information, draw conclusions earlier than competitors and make data-driven decisions.
Therefore, Google Analytics 360 aggregates more information and processes it faster than basic free tools. Let’s consider the unique capabilities of Google Analytics 360, which have no analogues in Google Analytics 4.
Advanced Data Management
Increase the productivity of your team by giving them individual access to the data they need to work with web analytics. In Google Analytics 360, we can customize access to data and settings (i.e. integrations, audiences, custom settings) using sub-properties and aggregate properties. Also, Google Analytics 360 users can customize reporting for individual users depending on their responsibilities.
Data Collection and Management
Easily collect and organize data with a variety of integrated tools. Google Analytics 360 has higher limits than the free versions for 125 custom parameters, 400 audiences, and 50 conversion types. The tool also allows you to automatically generate fast, high-power tables for the most important data sets using automatic special tables.
Maximum Relevance of Data
Get continuous intraday data through the Analytics 360 interface and API. Data is usually available within an hour of collection, so you can make decisions faster.
Who is Google Analytics 360 for?
As with any paid tool, you should evaluate the profitability of buying the tool. If you realize that you do not have enough information from standard Google Analytics, or you are not satisfied with the speed of its processing, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test: Which Google Analytics is right for your company
Google Analytics 4 is best for you. Doubts? Share them to email@example.com and we’ll help you test Google Analytics 360, or give you an expert rationale why you shouldn’t use this system.
Conclusion: Which Google Analytics is right for your business
If you use basic Google Analytics and everything suits you, we advise you to try to switch to Google Analytics 4 right now, so that you can start getting used to the interface and already test some features, because in the summer of 2023, when everyone will switch, it will be much more stressful and for companies, and for consultants who help to migrate.
If you feel that Google Analytics 4 is not enough for your needs, we recommend that you try Google Analytics 360. To do this, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.