Google Analytics 4: What you need to know about the new analytics

When the button for switching to the GA4 resource appeared in the Google Analytics interface, everyone abruptly started discussing this topic, though the “App and Site” resources were available long ago. Everyone was just sure that it was necessary only for those ones who have both an app and a website.

First of all, you shall take into account the following:

Universal resources are still alive, it is better to use them together with GA4. When creating a new resource, you can select both types. Why you should not completely switch to the new type:

  • Since the tool is new, not all functions work perfectly yet, and there can be occasional failures.
  • If you use integration with services, in most cases it is not yet adapted to the resources of this type.
  • Not all functions are available yet, they are added step-by-step.
  • If the previous version of analytics was based on the page view, the new version is based on events and their parameters. Therefore, some indicators have disappeared.
  • There are no views in this version. There is an account, a resource, and data streams.

In general, the analytics is more user-friendly than previous versions. More flexible settings, fewer unnecessary actions, very convenient tools for insights and smart search. Now let’s look at the main changes

EVENT TRACKING.

This is the main fundamental change in the new type of resources. Since the analytics is based on the events, a number of changes have been made. The types of referencing are not registered and are recorded as an event. Example of differences from the official help information. Also, event tracking is a very important setting to track your activity in paid advertising.

Events no longer have a “category, action, label” structure. Parameters are registered for events.

There are 3 types of events: automatic (registered without additional configuration), recommended (these are also standard events, but you need to configure their tracking), and special (user events that you create yourself). You can add up to 500 of the latter, so before configuration you shall check the following: whether the events you need are registered automatically.

Have a look at the “improved statistics” tool at the link. You can also create and modify events based on their parameters. The question often arises how to transfer e-commerce from UA to GA4. The help has a detailed article about the differences.

ANALYSIS TOOL

This tool gives a huge advantage to the new analytics over the previous version. I think most users regularly have to face the need constantly to create custom reports, sometimes just to change a bit the set of indicators in a standard report. This is very inconvenient. Here you can create very flexible reports much faster, there is a gallery of ready-made solutions.

In order to use the ready-made templates, you need to go to the gallery.

INTEGRATIONS

In the new version, integration with Big Query is available. In UA, it was paid, but here it is free. There is also a more functional interaction of data from all Google services. For example, the “interested (engaged) view” conversion is available on YouTube.

For the present the third-party services and CMS are the main problem, not everyone has a ready-made integration. Therefore, if it is possible to make changes directly into the code, it is recommended to use this feature. For now, these issues should be actively monitored. In the help there is an article about transfer for CMS. Also at the time of writing of the article, there are instructions for connection on certain platforms:

  • Blogger
  • GoDaddy
  • Google Sites
  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • SquareSpace
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • WordPress

You can see here how data import works. For the present we are waiting for the feature that will make it possible to import data on expenses from third-party systems.

DATA FILTERING, EXCLUSION OF TRAFFIC SOURCES, AND ATTRIBUTION (MOST POPULAR QUESTIONS)

There are much fewer filters in GA4 than in the previous version. There are no views in the analytics, so there arises a question about data filtering. It is possible that in the future it will be possible to open access to data streams, but for the present there is no analog for access to the view.

Filters that are available:

Google offers to replace the remaining filters with a comparison tool and event conversion. The feature of exclusion of traffic sources has already been added to the settings.

For attribution, Google recommends using the settings in the reports. When you import a conversion to an Advertisement, you can use only the last click attribution model, and maybe, it will be possible to change this after a some time.

ADVANTAGES

  1. Flexible configuration and user-friendly interface. In addition to the analysis and additional changes that you can make in each report, you shall pay attention to computer-aided instructions and NLP functions. Convenient hints, search and forecasts. A lot of unnecessary things are removed and the missing ones are added.
  2. The feature that allows more accurately to predict performance and create an audience based on the forecasts. It is also possible thanks to the computer-aided instructions.
  3. Convenient cross-platform tracking.
  4. More accurate tracking, that is based on device and user IDs (can also be configured), data security.
  5. Integrations

 

CONCLUSION

There are discussions in the Internet already for a long time about the fact that sooner or later everyone will have to switch for 100% to the new analytics. And the earlier it is installed, the more data will be collected, therefore, if there is such a possibility, it is better to integrate it now and use it in parallel with the UA and study it at a comfortable pace. Yes, the tool is new, many functions are being added for the present, but now it is actively worked on, you need to track the system news on the link.