What are the differences between GA4 and UA (GA3) page views?

Discover the distinctions between GA4 and UA page views: event-driven model, enhanced measurement, streamlined tracking, and user-centric analysis.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Universal Analytics (UA, also known as GA3) are two versions of Google Analytics with distinct features.

While both platforms track website data, they differ in their approach to page view tracking. GA4 follows an event-driven model, treating page views as events alongside other user interactions.

This enables more flexibility in data collection and analysis. In contrast, UA relies on a dedicated pageview tracking method, where page views are the primary focus. GA4 also introduces enhanced measurement capabilities, streamlined tracking with the Global Site Tag, and a user-centric data model. Understanding these differences is crucial for effectively utilizing each platform’s strengths in website analytics.

Key differences in tracking page views in GA4 vs UA (GA3)

This table specifically highlights the differences in page view tracking between GA4 and UA.

FeatureGoogle Analytics 4 (GA4)Universal Analytics (UA, GA3)
Data ModelEvent-drivenPageview-based
MeasurementEnhanced measurement with automatic tracking of page views as events, along with other interactions (scroll events, video engagement, outbound clicks, file downloads)Dedicated pageview tracking
TrackingStreamlined with Global Site Tag (gtag.js)Multiple tracking technologies (analytics.js, Google Tag Manager)
AnalysisPage views treated as events, providing flexibility in analyzing user behavior across multiple touchpointsPageview-based analysis

Pros and cons page view tracking comparison

We compare the pros and cons of page view measurement in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Universal Analytics (UA, GA3):

Google Analytics 4 (GA4)Universal Analytics (UA, GA3)
ProsEnhanced measurement with page views tracked as eventsDedicated pageview tracking
ProsData sampling can impact the accuracy of page view reporting for high-traffic sitesWell-established documentation and resources for pageview-based analysis
ProsUser-centric data model offers advanced analysis capabilitiesAdvanced features like custom variables, advanced segments, and goals
ConsThe event-driven model enables tracking of additional user interactionsLimited native support for tracking other user interactions alongside page views
ConsData sampling can impact accuracy of page view reporting for high-traffic sitesComplex tracking implementation, especially with multiple tracking technologies
ConsAdvanced features in UA may not have direct equivalents or require different implementation approachesCross-platform tracking and user-centric analysis may require additional steps

Why is the Page views different between GA4 and UA (GA3)?

There are 4 key drivers for this, which are:

  1. Tracking Methodology: GA4 uses an event-driven model that considers page views along with other user interactions, while UA primarily focuses on dedicated pageview tracking.
  2. Enhanced Measurement: GA4’s enhanced measurement capabilities automatically track additional user interactions as events, which can affect the overall count of recorded page views.
  3. Implementation Differences: Differences in tracking implementation using different tags (gtag.js in GA4 and analytics.js in UA) can lead to variations in reported page view numbers.
  4. Data Sampling: GA4 applies data sampling more extensively than UA, which can result in variations in page view counts, especially for high-traffic websites.

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