9 Minutes Of Reading
June 20, 2023

Understanding Data Mismatches: UA vs GA4 Analysis


In the Ecommerce paradigm, more and more agencies and marketing teams have leaped to Google Analytics 4. Also, it becomes necessary for those who haven’t made the GA4 migration yet.

By the time you are reading this, many Ecommerce stores have installed GA4 for the woocommerce plugin and many of them have gathered a few months of data. So questions arose about the consistency and alignment of data between these two.

If you’ve ever wondered why the numbers in these two analytics platforms don’t always align perfectly, you’re not alone!

Ok, Tell me… Which option are you using for your website right now?
Universal Analytics (GA3) Integration
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Integration

I looked into various research and almost 27 sites and their Google Analytics data. I won’t see any specific pattern in that data. Some websites show data discrepancies and some show the same data.

You have the same question in your mind that I had while exploring this, WHY? Why are there data mismatches in Universal Analytics (GA3) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Let’s unfold this part of the book of Google Analytics for WooCommerce.

You just need to have your favorite beverage along with you, and read this article which only takes 5 minutes.

Yes, I’m damn serious!

8 Strong Reasons Why Your GA4 Traffic and UA Data Don’t Match

If your data from Google Analytics 4 doesn’t match your data from Universal Google Analytics, there are a few basic elements you should look at. A few are listed below:

#1 You are blocking Bots Traffic From Showing In Universal Analytics (UA) Views

Let’s focus on the most obvious issues first. You need to check if there’s any filter in your older Universal Analytics (GA3) account. Many ga4 WooCommerce users find difficulty in these two settings, let’s have a look at it.

Bot Filtering
View Filters

There can be a possibility that universal data with filters and GA4 data might be captured differently. Want to understand more? Oh, yes…… understand it with the visual representation.

PS: Always good to see a screenshot over a bunch of texts- you can make changes based on the image very easily.

Bot Filtering– A simple checkbox that appeared just a few years ago. Surprisingly, no one knows how Google works with this option. If you have ticked this box, it means you have already filtered the data ever before it gets to Universal Analytics (UA).

To enable/disable this option, just go to your Google Analytics account. Navigate to ‘View Settings’ under the ‘View’ option.

View Settings in Google Analytics

View Filters– Adding filters will surely create a data mismatch in UA data and GA4 traffic. One of the major differences between UA and GA4 is Google has struggled to stop bot traffic and spam traffic from Universal Analytics.

But that’s not the case with Google Analytics 4 ( Till now).

We mentioned till now, because perhaps the people that make a lot of bot noise in UA, can migrate to GA4 as well.

Filters in Google Analytics

#2 Cookie Policy blocks Universal Analytics from Firing

When it comes to cookies, everyone is aware of GDPR & CCPA. These laws passed and many websites launched such annoying pop-up cookie policies for people to accept/ decline.

Many of you have thought that this pop-up has nothing to do with Google Analytics data.

But…but….but…..

Those sites that follow GDPR and CCPA completely, can see discrepancies in traffic of UA & GA4.

If you have the GA4 WooCommerce plugin installed, your cookie policy may capture every footfall on your website.

#3 You probably blending data across websites/apps

The concept of data streams is one of the new features and ideas that came with the launch of GA4. It’s important to remember that combining data from various sources in GA4 could not always combine with any Universal Analytics (UA) data you already have.

It can be difficult to combine historical UA data with GA4 data since UA and GA4 employ distinct tracking methods and data types.

For that reason, you are probably facing mismatch issues in data from Universal Analytics (GA3) & Google Analytics (GA4).

Pro Tip – It’s recommended to consult Google’s documentation and seek guidance from experts when navigating the complexities of blending data across different sources in GA4.

#4 You are losing Traffic from Cookie Blocker

If you are in a smart world, we know that Google and Apple don’t go well together. So do you think their browsers and third-party cookies go well? The answer is no most of the time.

With the super strict privacy settings that block GA/ GTM from firing the tags- it’s evident to have a data mismatch in Universal Analytics (GA3) & Google Analytics (GA4).

The more these factors play a role in your website, the larger the gap in your traffic data. What factors are we talking about? We have mentioned some of them below:

  • Do you have a B2B or B2C brand?
  • Does your maximum traffic come from Apple iOS devices or a more privacy-concerned audience?
  • Are you measuring data from mobile vs Desktop?

Pro Tip: Make sure cross-domain tracking is correctly implemented in Google Analytics for WooCommerce to ensure data consistency.

#5 Data Processing Time in UA & GA4

The time it takes for Google Analytics to process and make accessible data for reporting is referred to as the “data processing time.” GA4 offers data that is nearly real-time data, enabling speedy analysis of current user behaviors.

The processing time for UA, the earlier version of Google Analytics, is lengthier. It sometimes takes hours or even a day for data to be completely available. There may be inconsistencies between real-time data in GA4 and historical data in UA due to this variation in processing times.

Pro Tip: When analyzing and comparing data between UA and GA4, it’s crucial to take this timing variation into account.

#6 You have Unintentionally removed a Site Tag

Think of UA and GA4 as detectives gathering evidence about your website’s visitors and their behavior.

They do this by placing tracking tags on your site to collect data from the moment they’re implemented. However, if any of these tags go missing, get unintentionally removed, or are forgotten during implementation, it’s like leaving holes in the evidence board.

This can cause a discrepancy between the historical data in UA and the traffic reported in GA4. UA might have recorded information from all the tags that were in place at the time, while GA4 may be missing some data due to missing or improperly implemented tags.

Pro Tip: It’s crucial to ensure that all the necessary tags are correctly set up and maintained to avoid gaps in the data. Once you have done adding tags, validate it before starting tracking and analyzing the data.

Here are the few tags that can be implemented to your website and you can easily validate them:

GA4 Tracking Code
FB Pixel and FB Tracking Code
Google Ads Conversion Tracking ID
Pinterest Tracking ID
Snapchat Tracking ID
Microsoft Ads Tracking ID
TikTok Tracking ID

Validate these important tags to ensure data alignment in Universal Analytics (GA3) & Google Analytics (GA4).

#7 Data Interpretation Issues

We kept this point as the last, but this has the same value as the first point. The way conversions are tracked and the way you interpret the data can make a mismatch between the data of UA & GA4. Let’s understand with an example.

If someone is browsing your website between 11:58 PM and being there till 12:04 AM ( Universal Analytics created a session at midnight). Here UA will count it as two traffic sessions & Google Analytics 4 count it as ‘One’.

The other thing is while using Universal Analytics for so long- you feel comfortable with ‘Bounce Rate’. But in GA4, it counts Engagement Rate instead of Bounce Rate. There are plenty of other metrics names that have changed, check Google Article to know more about that in detail.

#8 Few More Reasons

Above we have listed the reason that Ecommerce stores are facing frequent problems. Let’s see some reasons that are also responsible for the data mismatch in UA vs GA4.

Different Tracking Models: Different tracking models are used by UA and GA4. UA relies on the pageview-based model, whereas Google Analytics 4 uses an event-based model. This basic distinction may affect how traffic is measured and reported.

Data Processing Time: Between UA and GA4, there may be a lag in data processing and reporting. Due to variations in processing durations, real-time data in GA4 could not match with historical data in UA.

Customization and Configuration Changes: UA & GA4 both have different customization options and configurations. Custom dimensions, measurements, objectives, and other variables can differ across the two systems, which might cause data discrepancy.

Learning and Transition Period: Since GA4 is a newer version, there may be a learning curve and transition period for users migrating from UA. Understanding the differences between the two systems and becoming familiar with GA4’s functionalities can help identify and address data mismatch issues.

Do you find it difficult to understand data and reports in GA4? Try the Conversios Google Analytics plugin today!

If you are looking for a robust Google Analytics alternative, you should go with Conversios.

In a Nutshell

It is essential to thoroughly analyze the causes of the data discrepancy and take necessary actions to remedy any differences. Consulting Google’s documentation, enlisting the help of professionals, or interacting with the Google Analytics community can all give useful insights and solutions for resolving data mismatches between UA and GA4.

An easy way amongst this is to check all the possible reasons to avoid the data discrepancies between Universal Analytics & Google Analytics 4 and download the Google Analytics for WooCommerce plugin at the earliest.

You toil hard to find a solution for the data mismatch, so we will appreciate your effort, and here’s your reward!

Whether you have built your store in Shopify or Magento, Conversios also has a tool for that as well.

For Magento: GA4 with Google Tag Manager
For Shopify: Conversios Google Analytics 4

Do you have any reasons that we have overlooked? If so, please let us know by contacting us at [email protected]. We are happy to help you with your queries.

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