GA4 Predictive Audiences – The differences to Universal Analytics Similar Audiences

Nakoa.Digital – GA4 Predictive Audiences – The differences to Universal Analytics Similar Audiences

In the realm of digital advertising, precision in targeting the right audience can make a significant difference in campaign success. Google Analytics currently provides two distinct audience targeting features: Universal Analytics Similar audiences and GA4 predictive audiences. However, with Universal Analytics soon going obsolete, we will be left with predictive audiences from GA4. To make the most of the new version of Google Analytics it is important to know the difference between the two. While both methods aim to optimize ad targeting, they differ in their underlying technologies and approaches. In this article, we will delve into the dissimilarities between Universal Analytics Similar audiences and GA4 predictive audiences, revealing their unique characteristics and functionalities.

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Universal Analytics Similar Audiences

Expanding Horizons through Similarities, Universal Analytics Similar audiences have emerged as a valuable asset for advertisers seeking to broaden their reach. These audiences are crafted by identifying and targeting individuals who share similar characteristics and behaviors with existing custom audiences or remarketing lists. An example would be setting up an audience that look like your current customers. Google would look at your current customers and find people with similar interests, demographics and patterns.

The essence of Universal Analytics Similar audiences lies in analyzing data and patterns through sophisticated algorithms. By recognizing commonalities among users, this method enables marketers to tap into new potential customers who exhibit traits akin to their existing audience.

Creating Universal Analytics Similar audiences involves carefully selecting a suitable source audience and fine-tuning targeting settings to achieve optimal results.

GA4 Predictive Audiences

Paving the Path with Intelligent Insights With the advent of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), advertisers gained access to a more advanced audience targeting capability known as predictive audiences. GA4’s predictive audiences adopt a forward-thinking approach by leveraging machine learning algorithms to forecast future user behavior and identify potential converters.

Predictive audiences in GA4 utilize machine learning models to analyze user behavior patterns. These insights are then harnessed to anticipate future user actions and identify potential customers who are likely to convert.

To utilize predictive audiences in GA4, advertisers need to set up the feature and harness the power of machine learning models to optimize marketing efforts, enhance campaign performance, and allocate resources effectively. On 1. July, 2023, Google will stop processing data in Universal Analytics and will be replaced by Google Analytics 4.

You can utilize predictive audiences to optimize targeting in advertising channels like Google Ads. To do this you need to:

  1. Ensure your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property is linked to your Google Ads account.
  2. In Google Ads, navigate to the “Audiences” section.
  3. Click on “Create new audience” and select “Website visitors” or “App users.”
  4. Choose the “Google Analytics” option and select your GA4 property.
  5. Select the “Predictive audience” option.
  6. Define the audience characteristics, such as user behavior, demographics, or conversion goals.
  7. Set the audience size and duration.
  8. Save and apply the audience to your Google Ads campaigns.
  9. Monitor the performance of your campaigns targeting the predictive audience.
  10. Make adjustments and optimizations based on the audience insights and conversion data.

Key Differences

Methodology: Universal Analytics Similar audiences rely on analyzing existing audience data to find users with similar characteristics and behaviors. Conversely, GA4 predictive audiences leverage machine learning algorithms to forecast future user behavior, identifying potential converters based on their anticipated actions.

Focus: Universal Analytics Similar audiences are primarily focused on expanding the reach of existing audiences by targeting users with similar traits. GA4 predictive audiences adopt a proactive approach, enabling advertisers to identify potential future customers based on behavioral patterns and anticipated actions.

Technological Advancement: Universal Analytics utilizes algorithms to analyze historical data, while GA4 harnesses the power of machine learning models to predict future user behavior. This advanced technology ensures more accurate and dynamic targeting capabilities.

How to set up predictive audiences:

  1. Ensure you have GA4 implemented: Make sure you have Google Analytics 4 tracking code properly installed on your website or app.
  2. Access the Google Analytics interface: Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the GA4 property for which you want to create the predictive audience.
  3. Go to the settings section: Click on “Audiences” under the correct property.
  4. Click the “New audience” button to start creating a new audience.
  5. Choose the predictive audience type: Select the “Predictive audience” option from the available audience types.
  6. Configure audience settings: Provide a name for your audience and set the desired audience parameters, such as the prediction duration, confidence threshold, and audience size.
  7. Define audience characteristics: Specify the desired characteristics, behaviors, or actions that you want the predictive audience to target. This can include specific events, user attributes, or conversion goals.
  8. Review and create the audience: Double-check the audience settings and characteristics you have configured. Once satisfied, click the “Save” button to create the predictive audience.
  9. Apply the audience to your marketing campaigns: After creating the predictive audience, you can apply it to your marketing campaigns within Google Analytics or use it in conjunction with other advertising platforms, such as Google Ads.


In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, precise audience targeting remains a fundamental aspect of campaign success. Universal Analytics Similar audiences and GA4 predictive audiences offer powerful tools to optimize targeting efforts. While Universal Analytics looks for similarities among existing audiences to expand reach, GA4 takes a proactive approach, utilizing machine learning algorithms to anticipate future user behavior. Understanding the distinctions between these targeting methods enables advertisers to leverage the right approach to effectively reach and engage their desired audience, ultimately driving campaign success. Finally, it is important to transfer to Google Analytics 4 before 1. July, 2023. The switch will be a progressive step for us as well and we are excited to learn more about this data driven world we live in.

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Robin is founder and CEO of Nakoa Digital. With over 15 years experience in international e-commerce he is your expert for digital marketing. Contact him by mail or by phone at +49 89 215 276 60.