News + Insights
What is GA4?
Read Time (3 minutes)
GA4 is the new version of Google Analytics, which is the most used web analytics tool in the world.
The structure of how data is handled with Google Analytics has changed. While UA has a number of ‘hit’ types, including page hits, event hits, ecommerce hits, and social interaction hits, GA4 is entirely event-based. GA4 also allows users to pull through web and app analytics into one view.
The last update to Google Analytics was over 10 years ago, and most other analytics platforms had moved to event-based tracking. GA4 also has a focus on user privacy, with a lot of features and user data being restricted.
The four pillars of reporting in Google Analytics 4
The left column of GA4 has icons that divide the interface into four sections: Home, Reports, Explore, Advertising. Each section starts with a snapshot page giving you an overview of that section. Reports are abundant in GA4 and many of them will look familiar to Universal Analytics users.
- Home is your overview reporting dashboard and insights hub.
- Reports provide a view of the customer journey such as how users accessed your site, where they came from, what they are doing, and their retention.
- Explore is the advanced interface for custom reporting and sophisticated data visualisations.
- Advertising provides deeper insights into conversion performance and user journeys. Admin is where you manage your custom events and custom dimensions.
Home dashboard, with recommendations
Integrated Machine Learning and Predictive Metrics
Another big advantage of GA4 is its use of machine learning to provide smarter insights. GA4 uses ‘probabilistic matching’ to stitch together data from different sources and give you a more complete picture of your users. Out of the box GA4 provides you with 3 predictive metrics.
Five key things to know
- Events are crucial within GA4, you will need them to track almost everything that happens on your site. Google has a list of recommended events for website sales. Some of these are more straightforward to set up than others, we’d recommend talking to your website or digital provider for assistance.
- Importantly, any event can be toggled to constitute a conversion. Conversions are your most important events. By designating an event as a conversion, you facilitate attribution reporting and postback capacity for that event. Additionally, conversion events are uploaded immediately by the SDK to make them actionable more quickly.
2. Customer parameters
Custom Parameters are GA4’s version of dimensions. Parameters are descriptive labels that are sent with users and their activities (events). In GA4, you can describe your custom parameters. This makes it easier for new users, and helps with organisational memory and governance.
3. Data retention
The options for data retention have changed with GA4, although this only applies to data you are exposing in custom reports and explorations, but still important to check. Data in default reports is aggregated and has a longer lookback available.
4. Internal traffic
The way you exclude traffic in GA4 has changed significantly compared to UA. You can however still exclude traffic from your premises, using the ‘Internal Traffic’ flag in Data Filters.
Google has completely updated the custom report function within GA4, now known as “Explore”. Explore offers some great data exploration features through drag and drop functionality, as well as several visualisation options.
Top three reports
1. User acquisition report
A go to report for anyone who sells anything online. This report provides information about how users are discovering and accessing your website or app.
2. E-commerce report
This report focuses on revenue and conversion metrics, enabling you to assess the performance of your booking and revenue generation activities.
3. User purchase report
This report can be customised to fit your exact purchase flow, and then provide you with insight on where you are losing people within the funnel. You can also add additional metrics like device type to drill down even further.