How is Google Analytics 4 different from Universal Analytics

There are many changes in Google Analytics 4. Below we’ll outline the main portions of the user interface. The software is still being updated on a regular basis so don’t be surprised if things move or new features are added. Keep an eye on the Google Analytics release notes for further updates.

What are the benefits of GA4

GA4 allows you to send up to 25 parameters with each event. These parameters can be used to define a value, or provide context to where and when the event was fired. This is a really cool feature which can lead to advanced analysis and reporting ability.

Some other benefits of GA4 include:

  • user, session, and event based segments
  • predictive metrics: purchase probability, churn probability, predicted revenue
  • easily configure conversions and set up a series of events to trigger conversions

GA4 has a completely new user interface

  • User Interface: GA4 has a completely new UI for reporting, configuration and debugging.
    • Home report:
      • Trend line and scorecards for Users, New Users, Average engagement time and Total revenue for the last 7 days
      • Active users in the last 30 minutes by top countries
    • Realtime Report
      • 30 min active users by device category and location
    • Life Cycle Reports
      • Acquisition
        • Acquisition overview: users, new users, active users by location
        • Configurable: New users by: first default channel group, Users by first source, audience, views by page title, event count by event name, conversions by event name, users by user property, sessions by default channel grouping, sessions by Google Ads campaign and lifetime value
        • User acquisition: new users by first user default channel grouping
        • Traffic acquisition: users by Session default channel grouping
      • Engagement
        • Engagement overview: Average engagement time, Engaged session per user, Average engagement time, Users in last 30 minutes by page, Views and Event count, Event count by Event name, Views by page title and screen class
        • Events: Event count by Event name, Event count by Total users by Event name
        • Conversions: Conversions by Event name, conversions and Total users by Event name
        • Pages and screens: Views by Page title and screen class, Views and Users by Page title and screen class
      • Monetization
        • Monetization overview: Total revenue, E-commerce revenue, Total ad revenue, Total purchasers, First time purchasers, Average purchase revenue by user, E-commerce purchases by Item name, E-commerce purchases by item list name
        • E-commerce purchases: Item views by item name, Item views and Add-to-carts by Item name
        • In-app purchases: Quantity by Product ID, Quantity and Product revenue by Product ID
      • Retention
        • Retention overview: New users, Returning users, user retention chart, User engagement by cohort, user retention last 42 days, User engagement, Lifetime value
      • User Reports
        • Demographics overview: Users by Country, Users in the last 30 minutes, Users by City, Users by Gender (if configured), Users by Interest (if configured), Users by Age (if configured), Users by language
        • Demographic details: Users by Country, Users and New users by Country
      • Tech
        • Tech overview: Users by Platform, Users in the last 30 minutes, Users by Operating system, Users by Platform / device category, Users by Browser, Users by Device Category, Users by Screen resolution, Users by App Version, Latest app release overview, App stability overview, Users by Device model
        • Tech details: Browser: Users by Browser overtime, Users and New users by Browser
      • Library
        • The library contains all existing reports. In the library you can modify existing reports or create new ones. You can also modify or create the report’s associated collection and description.
      • Explore:
        • perform ad hoc queries
        • create segments and audiences
        • export the exploration data for use in other tools
      • Advertising
        • Advertising snapshot: Conversions by Default channel grouping, Insights, conversion paths
        • Attribution: Measure the impact of your advertising with the powerful attribution capabilities of GA4
        • Model Comparison: Compare attribution models within a table format.
        • Conversion paths: Use the Conversion paths report to understand your customers’ paths to conversion, and how different attribution models distribute credit on those paths.
      • Configure (Admin interface)
        • Events: create and modify events. Mark events as conversions.
        • Conversions: shows conversion count, value and % change. You can also configure optional settings for apps, including adding a network and configuring post backs
        • Audiences: Create a custom audience or use audience suggestions.
        • Custom definitions: create, modify and view custom dimensions and custom metrics.
        • DebugView: debug your implementation and validate that expected events are being captured by GA4.

GA4 Events

  • Types of Google Analytics 4 events
    • Automatically collected events are collected by default when you implement the Google tag or the Google Tag Manager snippet on your website or the Google Analytics Firebase SDK in your app.
    • Enhanced measurement events are collected from websites when enhanced measurement is enabled within your GA4 property.
    • Recommended events are events that you implement, but that have predefined names. Some recommended events include login, purchase, generate_lead, search and level_up. Recommended events cover use cases for all properties, online sales and gaming. It is a best practice to check to see if there is a recommended event that fits your use case before creating a custom event.
    • Custom events are defined by you. Only create custom events when no other events work for your use case. Custom events are not available in standard reports so you need to set up custom reports or explorations for analysis.
  • GA4 event parameters: metadata about your events.
    • All hits are now collected as events, events can be enriched with up to 25 event parameters that help you to better describe the action completed.
  • GA4 conversions GA4 events can be marked as a conversion in the Google Analytics 4 admin interface. Mark events that are driving business value as conversion events.
  • GA4 e-commerce new data layer events and parameters, GA4 uses e-commerce parameters whereas UA uses dimensions. There is no distinction between e-commerce and enhanced e-commerce in GA4 properties.

Other features of GA4

  • GA4 debug view offers a real time view into events being collected by GA4. This is a very helpful addition that helps you fully QA your implementation. Use it in combination with GTM Tag Assistant Preview / Debug to validate tags are firing and that data is flowing into GA4.
  • GA4 attribution There are three types of attribution models available in the Attribution reports in GA4; cross-channel rules-based models, an Ads-preferred rules-based model, and data-driven attribution.
  • GA4 data retention By default GA4 properties are set to a data retention period of 2 months and can be adjusted to a maximum of 14 months (non Analytics 360 version). 360 customers can select ranges between 2 and 50 months.
  • GA4 privacy In GA4 you can now exclude specific events and user properties from ads personalization and privacy controls such as cookie-less measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling. GA4 does not store IP addresses. Google Signals can be disabled. You also have the ability to reduce the data retention period and the ability to delete data for a specific user.
  • GA4 cookie expiration
    • You can now change cookie expiration and update cookie settings using the Google Analytics 4 interface.
  • GA4 / BigQuery integration
    • An exciting feature of GA4 is that all properties can enable export to BigQuery and begin to leverage their raw event level web and app data. Advantages include joining the data with other data sources such as marketing or CRM data, using the data as the input for machine learning models, performing advanced analysis or integration with visualization platforms such as Looker Studio (Formerly DataStudio), Tableau or PowerBI. You can export to a free instance of BigQuery, but exports that exceed the sandbox limits incur charges.

How to switch to Google Analytics 4

Initial creation of the GA4 property and data collection is fairly straightforward. Simply follow the steps within the GA4 property setup wizard on the property level of your Analytics account. Then create your GA4 configuration tag in GTM and set it to fire on all pages. Out of the box Google Analytics 4 will begin tracking outbound links, file downloads, scroll, page view, session start, video start, video progress, video complete, view search results and more.

Learn more about the steps to upgrade to GA4  and why you should upgrade to GA4 now. For organizations looking for a GA4 consultant, our team of experts can help you transition smoothly and get you up and running.