Google Analytics 4, the next generation of Analytics, launched in late 2020. Many businesses and marketers alike have been trying to figure out exactly how the introduction of GA4 will affect their current and future data.
An entirely fresh take on analytics, GA4 brings a plethora of exciting changes and new features. Getting to grips with all of this can be a steep learning curve.
So, let us fill you in on the most important aspects of the new GA4 property by reading the queries below…
Jump to a question:
- What is Google Analytics 4?
- Why should I set up GA4?
- What are the main differences between UA and GA4?
- Can you transfer data from UA to GA4?
- What are the different event types in GA4?
- Is there a bounce rate in GA4?
- Can I use GA4 data in UA reports in Looker (previously Google Data Studio)?
1. What is Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is the new Google Analytics property that incorporates both web and app tracking in one place with the objective of gaining a deep understanding of the user journey and encompassing future analytical needs of businesses.
2. Why should I set up GA4?
The main reason for switching to GA4 is that from July 2023 UA will stop collecting website data. So if you want to continue tracking your website, it is essential that you set up a GA4 property. In addition, GA4 has some great new features such as improved reporting, enhanced privacy measures, and mobile app integration.
3. What are the main differences between UA and GA4?
The biggest change to arrive with Google Analytics 4 is the measurement model it uses. Universal Analytics’ model is based on sessions, while GA4 focuses on events (a hit in UA terms).
That is, all data sent to your GA4 property will be in the form of an event. Events can be paired with parameters – extra bits of information – that are sent to analytics alongside an event.
While UA hits also permit extra data being sent alongside events, it is limited to just event category, action, label and value. GA4 on the other hand allows 25 parameters per event providing far more flexibility in data collection and enhanced reporting capabilities.
Web & App
Another major shift with GA4 is that it supports analytics for both web and mobile applications, while UA only deals with website analytics. So, if you want to track a website, an iOS app and an android app you set up a stream for each data source. In all, you would have three data streams populating your GA4 container allowing the combination of your data in one place, ready for analysis!
4. Can you transfer data from UA to GA4?
Unfortunately, transferring UA data into GA4 is not possible. This is simply due to their data models being fundamentally different.
5. What are the different event types in GA4?
There are four types of events in GA4: built-in, enhanced, recommended and custom. When choosing event names, it’s important to go through the event groups in succession to find out whether there is an event that fits your use case.
Properly understanding and employing these events when suitable will ensure that Google handles your data optimally resulting in quality reporting and machine learning opportunities.
So, let’s dive a little deeper into the different event types.
Built-in events are automatically collected upon setting up GA4. Some example events are first_visit, session_start and user_engagement.
Enhanced measurement events can be enabled when setting up your web data stream in the Google Analytics interface and were created to help businesses start collecting data immediately after enabling this feature without the need for any code changes. Page views, scrolls and file downloads are examples of events in this category and can be switched off individually if they don’t suit your data collection needs.
Recommended Events is a list of event names predefined by Google and should be used where possible as doing so will provide more useful reporting capabilities both presently and in the future.
Custom events are totally defined by you and should be used when no other event fits the bill!
6. Is there a bounce rate in GA4?
Good news! The bounce rate has just been added to the most recent version of GA4. It is important to note however that it does differ from UA’s bounce rate.
GA4’s bounce rate is the number of non-engaged sessions divided by the total sessions. So, what is a non-engaged session exactly? It’s when a user visits your page but spends less than 10 seconds viewing your content and exits without triggering any events or visiting another page.
The new bounce rate proves more useful for measuring users’ engagement on your website as opposed to the old bounce rate which counts when a user does not interact with the page (e.g., clicking on a link) and leaves without visiting a second page on your website.
So, although a user may read an entire blog post, because they only viewed a single page this is counted as a bounce. Further, due to the rise in mobile and single page application’s where a user may not visit a second page, this old metric has become irrelevant for many tracking purposes.
7. Can I use GA4 data in UA reports in Looker (previously Google Data Studio)?
Yes – it is easy to add a GA4 data source to your UA dashboard! However, each element will need to be updated manually due to the difference in data structures. Some dimensions remain the same, but most metrics will differ. One example is the user metric. In UA, these metrics highlight total users while GA4 focuses on active users only.
Remember, in order to add parameter values to your reports you will need to first define them as custom dimensions/metrics. To do this, simply go to the Configure section of your property and select Create custom definitions.
On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties. If you need help migrating to GA4, our technical team is available to help your business.