Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that allows you to measure traffic and engagement beyond your websites and apps.
Google Analytics 4 vs Google Analytics
Universal Analytics highlights the total number of users (shown as users) in most reports, while GA4 focuses on active users (also shown as users). Although the term “users” looks the same, the calculation of this metric differs between UA and GA4 because UA uses “Total Users” and GA4 uses “Active Users”.
Universal Analytics tracks screen views on separate mobile-specific properties, while GA4 combines web and app data into the same property. If you’re tracking web and app data on your GA4 property, be sure to consider additional app traffic when comparing page view metrics between the two.
The number of web purchases should match exactly. We never expect all events to be perfectly matched, and buy events are no exception to this rule. However, these events are atomic and critical, so the number of events in UA/GA4 must match exactly.
The difference in session count between UA and GA4 can differ from business to business depending on several things, including:
- Use of UTMs on owned websites or app
Universal Analytics supports five goal types: destination, duration, pages or session, smart goals, and event goals. GA4, on the other hand, only supports conversion events. It may not always be possible to use GA4 conversion events to exactly duplicate some types of UA goals.
In Google Analytics 4, the bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that were not active sessions. In other words, bounce rate is the opposite of engagement rate. In Universal Analytics, the bounce rate is the percentage of all sessions on your website where users viewed only one page and made only one request to the analytics server.
Benefits of Google Analytics 4
More of the user journey
Google Analytics has really changed, and not just in the way it structures its reports within the user interface. It has changed at its core. The focus is no longer on metrics that can easily be fragmented by device or platform, such as sessions. The focus is now clearly on users and their interactions, which are now only recorded as events.
This new event-driven, user-centric data model means you can now use a single set of metrics and dimensions to view both web and app data, enabling smarter aggregation. For example, a user can visit your website on their mobile device, visit it again on their desktop, and then download, purchase, or sign up through your app. Google Analytics 4 gives you the tools you need to more accurately track and reconcile user journeys.
More focused on user engagement
In addition to being able to collect and aggregate more data, Google has made it easier for marketers and analysts to drill down into user-centric reports by aligning the report menu sections with the customer journey.
Gone are the tried-and-true audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversion menus. Instead, there’s a “Lifecycle” section that breaks down the analysis into acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention, while there’s now a separate “Users” section that focuses on user demographics and technology.
One of the great features of Google Analytics 4 is its powerful new user-centric metrics and dimensions that use AI to forecast customer actions and values.
In the meantime, Google has removed the bounce rate and replaced it with some more meaningful and useful engagement metrics. These new engagement metrics, combined with the new out-of-the-box scroll, video, click-through, and file download events, should allow you to get a good idea of whether your content is engaging or if users are engaging with the content to interact.
Powerful audiences for your ad campaigns
GA4 comes with new, more powerful metrics and more powerful analyst tools and integrations mean more powerful audiences for marketing campaigns, which means better return on ad spend.
For example, let’s say you are a university running an advertising campaign across mobile and desktop, web and app platforms. A user enters your website through a browser on a mobile device and fills out a contact form; then they come back through a desktop computer with a different browser and launch an application form; they finally fill out the application form using their native Android or iOS app..
Until GA4, it would be difficult to optimize ad spend for these types of user journeys, especially as it would be difficult to connect these journeys from different devices and platforms. Now, if you set up your web and apps properly, you can travel together and avoid wasting your ad spend.
Intelligent user privacy and tracking features
Google Analytics 4 gives you and your users more intuitive and precise control over what personal data is collected and helps you comply with current and future privacy regulations. For example, with GA4, you can now exclude certain events and user properties from ad personalization.
Google’s new analytics approach is fundamentally designed to be more flexible and adaptable for a future where cookies will be far less common and where privacy will be an increasingly key concern for users and regulators. GA4 uses a flexible measurement approach and in the not too distant future will include models to fill in the gaps where the data may be incomplete.
Clarified Goals and Events setup
Google’s Event Editing and Synthesizing allows you to really refine goal tracking and get granular behavioral data without having to edit code and tweak target settings. What used to be complex is now easy forward, which is particularly useful when transactional features such as application forms and payments are hosted on a third-party subdomain or website.
From the start, GA4 pre-creates a set of actions and events. Some default options that previously required manual configuration include clicks, scrolling, transactions, file downloads, and a user’s first visit. Some form submission and e-commerce goals may not be automatically tracked, but setting up these goals is now much easier, and again takes much less time to implement than in previous iterations of GA.
Enhanced visualizations and reporting
While much of the user interface has remained fairly similar within the platform, there are a number of new visualization and reporting features. Existing visualizations and firm favorites like ‘Real Time’ have been improved and made more attractive.
The “Analysis Center” which contains a gallery of templates with diagrams that can be created, such as exploration, funnel analysis, segment overlay, and path analysis is a big improvement and helps to simplify some more complex reports on interdimensional metrics.
A plethora of Parameters
When it comes to analytics, having the right data and granularity for specific metrics is absolutely critical in order to extract value from it. While more data doesn’t always mean better data, having the right parameters is beneficial.
For example, in an e-commerce setup, parameters can be used to specify the value of a purchase, where the purchase is, the referring URL, and the journey between devices. Most of the dimensions that were available in the previous version are still there, but have been made more accessible and usable with GA4.
This new and improved GA4 is essentially a new architecture of the platform we know and love, and the features and benefits are numerous. While it’s still in its infancy and continually evolving, our top recommendation is to start learning how to use GA4 effectively to stay ahead of the competition and save time in the future.