Last fall, Google released a new version of Google Analytics - Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This next generation of Google Analytics can be used for a website, an app, or both a website and app together. Let's explore what is new in GA4 and how we anticipate these features to be valuable to e-commerce managers and data analysts.
Data Tracking & Integrations
- GA4 is centered completely on events as opposed to pageviews batched into sessions. This driven data model offers more flexibility as it allows for a unified tracking system for web and applications while not being bound solely to URLs.
- No limitations – In Universal Analytics (UA), there were certain limitations in the amount of data that could be collected. GA4 eliminates this restriction by enabling unlimited data collection and removes sampling in standard reports.
- BigQuery integration grants access to your raw data with full ownership rights. You can merge it with any sources (e.g., your CRM platform) to get a more holistic overview of the customer journey.
- While UA stores your data pretty much forever, in G4, your data will roll off after 14 months. Year-over-year comparison is still possible with the new data retention policy, we recommend starting to move your GA4 data to BigQuery so you don’t lose out on the opportunity to use historical data from past years for your analysis.
New Report Types & Enhancements
Funnel Analysis: GA4 offers more elaborated funnel customization capabilities that enable you to define and adjust steps on the fly. You can set up closed or open funnels; access trended funnels to examine trends over time, enabling you to spot anomalies in the defined steps; and see the elapsed time between each of the steps to evaluate how long it takes to complete the entire user journey and where the biggest delay occurs.
Path Analysis: Path analysis lets you determine the most common path users take from a starting point to an ending point, which you can freely specify. For example, a starting or ending point can be a particular page or an event, such as a conversion or any meaningful action (e.g., newsletter sign up).
Segment Overlap: Ever wondered how your visitor segments are interrelated? The segment overlap report type gives you an answer by showing the relationship between the different segments that you have. You can understand which ones might be mutually exclusive and which ones have considerable overlap, along with some quantifiable data like user count.
Engagement Metrics: For years analysts have tried to come up with a way to measure user engagement on the website. We use metrics like bounce rate but not a measure called engagement. GA4 has taken a step to provide a standard way for you to measure engagement with a site or app with a new metrics called Engagement Rate.
Engagement metrics maintain the primary purpose of bounce rates—gauging the number of sessions with a certain degree of interactivity with the content present on your website. Engagement Rate quantifies metrics by tracking Engaged Sessions, Engaged Sessions per User, and Engaged Time. A session will be counted as an engaged one if a user fulfills at least one of the following:
- Actively engage with your website or app in the foreground for at least 10 seconds.
- Fire a conversion event.
- Fire at least 2 screens or pageviews.
The tighter insights translate to more effective marketing that grants a better return on investment.
If you have a website and an app, and you can easily compare or analyze this data in one reporting environment in GA4. You can link your firebase tracking to your GA4 property and start collecting data. This also means you can manage your audiences and track user behavior across your app and web platforms, create segments based on this and do advanced cross-platform attribution analysis.
Segments & Audiences
There is a new events-based segment, which is not present in UA. In GA4, segments can be created based on users, sessions, or events. You can generate segments from the segment suggestion list. Generated segments will already have some predefined fields set up to aid you in the process.
Also, there is the possibility to embed the concept of time into your segment, which is something entirely new. For example, when setting up the sequence for a segment, you can add elapsed time between steps and user membership duration as factors. This feature can be quite handy for your remarketing campaigns. Moreover, you can exclude users either temporarily or permanently, which even further removes the constraints from the created segments.
GA4 adds several features for predictive insights. For example, in analysis and audience building you can add predictive metrics: purchase probability and churn probability. Purchase probability is the chance that a user will purchase in the next 7 days, based on their patterns of behavior so far. Churn probability is the chance that they will no longer be an active user in 7 days.
GA4 Adoption Steps
It is important to start preparing for new GA4 features and benefits.
1. Start by tracking your site on GA4 in parallel Universal Analytics. By dual tagging your website or app you will continue to enjoy all the benefits of UA while beginning to collect data in your GA4 properties.
2. Test and learn with GA4 by extending deployment to more sites, begin integrating your advertising technology, and building audiences.
Comparing Available Versions of Google Analytics
|Criteria||Universal Analytics||Google Analytics 4|
|Data access via mobile app, API, email notifications||Yes, basic||Yes, more advanced with higher API limits and unsampled data|
|Sampled data in user interface||Up to 500,000 sessions before sampling occurs on filtered/segmented reports||Out-of-the-box reporting is unsampled|
|Allowable hit volume||Up to 10 million hits per month||20 billion per day|
|Unsampled Reports||No||BigQuery export available|
|Data-Driven Attribution||None, only standard/custom attribution models, not data-driven models||Yes|
|Custom Data Needs||
20 custom dimensions 20 custom metrics
25 user-scope custom dimensions
|Google Marketing Platform Integration||Google Ads
Google Data Studio - limited
Search Ads 360
Display & Video 360 Campaign Manager Google Optimize – coming soon
Google Data Studio
Contact us for help to start using Google Analytics 4 features
As Pereions' Digital Analytics Practice Leader, Kate Fox has 15 years of experience working with clients on their web analytic requirements, including implementations, updates, training, and analytic best practices. Additionally, Kate is certified in both Acoustic Digital Analytics and Google Analytics. Click here to contact Kate for additional help or any questions related to getting started with GA4.