Comparing UA vs. GA4 metrics: Key differences you need to know - Carney
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Comparing UA vs. GA4 metrics: Key differences you need to know

Goodbyes aren’t always easy. Exceptions might include parting with a chatty airline passenger after a weary travel day or clocking out of work on a Friday afternoon. But difficult goodbyes are a universal human experience. And, speaking of universal goodbyes, we marketers recently bid a permanent adieu to Universal Analytics. Unless you were ahead of the curve, you might be scrambling to get a grasp of its successor, Google Analytics 4. So today Search Engine Land is comparing UA vs GA4 metrics and pointing out the key differences you need to know.

Fundamentally different data models

Where UA relied mostly on sessions and pageviews, GA4 centers its approach around events and parameters. At the end of the day, you’ll be looking at a bunch of numbers, but you may notice they don’t completely match up.


For instance, UA and GA4 have a default session timeout of 30 minutes, but UA would restart a session at midnight and then create a new session once a UTM promo code is clicked. This would result in an overinflated session count in UA, so keep that in mind as you look at session counts in GA4.


Whether you agree with it or not, GA4 counts a conversion every time a conversion event occurs. This means that someone clicking “click to call” twice in a row will count as two conversions – even within the same session. In contrast, UA would have recorded one conversion event.

Rethinking our web performance metrics

Bounce Rate

Registering a low bounce rate as good and a high bounce rate as bad is a bit too black and white for GA4. Just because a user visits and leaves your page quickly doesn’t mean they didn’t find what they were looking for. Because of this, GA4 has done away with bounce rate as a stand-alone metric.

Views vs. Data Streams

We like to pick and choose what we see based on what is important to us. This is why creating Views was so beneficial. In GA4, Views are now Data Streams, and this now offers the ability to analyze web and app data.

There’s never a dull moment in the marketing world, so keep your skills sharp. Dive into the rest of the article for more key differences between UA and its successor.


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