In October, Google rolled out Google Analytics 4 (previously “App + Web properties”) as the official default property type for Analytics accounts moving forward. With this rollout comes a rebuild of Google Analytics from the ground up, geared around user events and tracking users through the customer journey. Marketers will find that GA4 entails a major layout change, along with the addition of several new features.
You can start creating Google Analytics 4 properties now for any existing sites currently on Universal Analytics. Here’s an overview of a few features you should know about.
If you’re used to the current GA layout, you’re in for a shock the first time you open up a GA4 account. The navigation structure has been changed significantly, with many sections renamed and recategorized.
In general, the structure is updated to focus around the user path and around events that are tracked as people browse your site. There are 5 top level categories: Lifecycle, User, Events, Explore, and Configure.
The data tables also have an updated look, with some additional metrics added by default, such as engaged sessions, engagement rate, and event count. You can add secondary dimensions using the “plus” symbol next to the dimension dropdown above the table.
Many sections have been consolidated into single reports that were in separate places before. For instance, a “Tech details” report lets you view data by device category, browser, operating system, and other dimensions that were previously spread apart among different reports in the older UI.
New Reporting Features
Google Analytics 4 includes a brand-new “Analysis” section which improves on the dated Custom Reports in Universal Analytics. You can drag-and-drop segments, dimensions, and metrics to dig into data on-the-fly.
You can create custom reports here, as well as utilize existing templates. Categories include Exploration (which appears to be a general category for slicing and dicing data however you want to analyze it), funnel analysis, path analysis, segment overlap, cohort analysis, user explorer, and user lifetime activity.
Built-In Event Tracking
Tired of setting up custom event tracking for every site? Even though Google Tag Manager makes setup easier, the fact that Google Analytics previously didn’t track some basic interactions, like clicking on PDFs or scrolling, has been a pain point for many marketers. You’ll no longer need to add custom code or use Google Tag Manager for a few core events that previously required additional effort to put into place.
Google Analytics 4 now bakes in automatic event tracking for the following activities, as long as you’ve turned on the Enhanced Measurement feature:
- Scroll (triggered when a user reaches the bottom of the page, defined by viewing the 90% point)
- Outbound clicks
- Site search: previously you had to manually configure this, but Google can now automatically pick up on search formats using a few common parameters
- Video engagement: Triggered when users start watching, reach 10%/25%/50%/75% points, or complete the video
- File downloads: Triggered on clicks of most common file types for text documents, PDFs, video, audio, presentation, executable, or compressed files
To turn on Enhanced Measurement, go to the Admin section of your Analytics account. Select Data Streams under your property.
Then, click on the stream correlated with your site, and make sure Enhanced Measurement is toggled on. You can select the specific events you’d like to measure here.
Updated Conversion Tracking
Conversion creation is directly tied to the events Google Analytics records. If you’d like to set a particular event as a conversion, you can click the “Mark as conversion” next to the event where it appears in reporting.
You can either utilize the built-in events or create custom events, which you can then mark as conversions.
You can create events based on multiple conditions defined by parameters in the interface. For instance, if you want to track people who land on a “Thank You” page, create an event where “page_location” contains the URL you’d like to track.
Start Learning Google Analytics 4!
While Universal Analytics isn’t being sunsetted in the immediate future, Google has made it clear that GA4 is the future for Analytics. Digital marketers would do well to start creating GA4 properties for their sites and start learning the interface, along with its differences from Universal Analytics.
Below is a list of articles to help you dive deeper:
- Hello to Google Analytics 4 (Krista Seiden)
- Implementation Guide for Events in Google Analytics 4 (Simo Ahava)
- Meet Google Analytics 4: Google’s vision for the future of analytics (Search Engine Land)
- Demystifying Google Analytics 4 (Seer Interactive)
- How to Connect Google Analytics 4 with Google Ads (Optimize Smart)
We’d love to hear your thoughts about Google Analytics 4 in the comments below!