21 July 2023

Google Analytics 4: this is how you use it

️ Blog
16 min. reading time

The curtain has fallen for Universal Analytics. Since July 1, 2023, the standard properties no longer collected new data. You have probably already switched to Google Analytics 4. Then you have probably already discovered some differences so that setting it up is not a matter of copying and pasting. In this blog we explain what you should pay attention to. 

Before all standard Universal Analytics properties stop processing new data in July 2023, it is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with Google Analytics 4 – or GA4.

Not quite familiar yet? Then read more about GA4 and the most important differences with Universal Analytics.

google analytics 4

The latest version of Analytics offers most of the functionalities that Universal Analytics – or UA – also offered, but a number of major changes and improvements have also been implemented. GA4 has significantly changed the user interface and focuses more on how visitors interact with a website. In addition, GA4 offers marketers the opportunity to collect data on different platforms. Also consider voice assistants and apps.

GA4 is designed to bring app and web analytics together with the aim of gaining better insight into the complex, multi-platform journeys that your customers take.

Data privacy and security for customers is also significantly improved, as the tool no longer stores IP addresses. A nice feature for companies that play internationally and need more protection and control. 

The differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics

 Before you start migrating to GA4 or setting it up, it is smart to understand the differences for a smooth transition. Below we have reduced them to 5 main points.

Subject Universal Analytics google analytics 4
Data tracking Session-based, page views Events
Data setup organization View in properties Data flows in properties
User entity modeling Cookie-based 'Google Signals' + cookies
Different metrics bounces Engaged sessions
Cross device tracking Separate, limited Multiple data flows in a property


Data tracking

A fundamental difference between the two versions is how they track data. Universal Analytics measures based on sessions and page views, but GA4 measures based on events.

Universal Analytics collects and measures various user interactions with your website over a period of time as sessions or 'hits'. First of all, Universal Analytics only tracks page views for your properties. While a session in UA can also contain multiple additional events, it requires some technical skills in event tracking and Google Tag Manager to make that possible.

GA4 is built to instead record what happens on your website and app as 'events'. This new data tracking model provides a complete overview of your user engagement on and off the internet, regardless of technical capabilities.

There are 4 types of events in GA4:

  • Automatically collected events are triggered by basic interactions when you install the GA4 codebase. Some examples of this type of event are page_view, first_visit, and session_start.
  • Enhanced measurement events are also collected automatically and allow you to track engagement with your content. For example, with enhanced measurement events, you can see data related to scrolls, outbound clicks, site search, video engagement, and file downloads. Some specific measurements in this event type can be manually disabled in the settings.
  • Recommended events are not collected automatically, but can help you measure additional data to create useful reports.
  • custom events consist of names and ranges of parameters that are defined and unique to your company. Before setting up a custom event, review the list of automatically collected, enhanced measures, and recommended events to avoid duplicates.
Google Analytics

Data setup organization

In Universal Analytics you need to create separate properties for your website and app. Additionally, it is recommended that each property have 3 different views. The first view is unfiltered, where you store all the raw data. The second is a test view, where you add filters and run experiments. And the last is a main view that collects all the goals, filters and other adjustments you tested in the test view.

In GA4, a website or an app is considered a 'data stream' and can fall under one property. A data flow is a data funnel that starts from a customer touchpoint to GA4. Each GA4 property can have a maximum of 50 data streams.

User entity modeling

Whenever you visit a website, you will most likely be asked to consent to the cookie settings. Once you accept the terms, the website that integrates with Universal Analytics sends the cookies to your web browser, and they can record and track your actions online during a specific session.

Unfortunately, websites aren't the only channels through which customers communicate with companies these days. More and more people use the app and find information from multiple platforms where cookies are not available. Relying solely on cookies makes combining user behavior data from different touchpoints difficult to get a good picture of their interactions.

With GA4's new user entity modeling, which offers both cookies and Google signals, you can now merge the data into one unified user journey across multiple devices. Google signals are data from users who are logged in to Google. They can help fill the data gap left by the lack of cookies.

Various statistics

GA4 introduces a new metric called 'engagement rate'. 'Engagement rate' is the percentage of 'engaged sessions'. 'Engaged sessions' is the number of sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had at least 2 page views or screen views.

On the other hand, Universal Analytics has the 'bounce rate' metric: the percentage of single-page sessions without interacting with the page. A bounced session lasts 0 seconds.

'Engagement rate' is more useful than 'bounce rate' in measuring the behavior of users who may have viewed a single page and left without taking further action. Note that “engagement rate” is not the opposite of “bounce rate.”

Cross device tracking

Since you can group different data flows (a website or an app) into a property in GA4, you can now create reports where you can see cross-domain traffic and collect data, while still retaining the ability to aggregate data per flow. divide.

Growing online together?

While setting up an effective campaign takes time and effort, it can have a major impact on your organization's exposure and sales. Are you unable to make time yourself, but do you think it is important to have ads running to achieve your business goals? Then it may be smart to hire an agency to help you with your marketing activities. Social Brothers has a lot of experience with Online marketing, IF THE, design en Development – of course data driven.

Do you want advice about or help with your online marketing? Social Brothers will help you! Contact us via the module at the bottom of this page or visit our Contact page.

PatrickContent Marketer[email protected]

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