Upgrading to Google Analytics 4? Here are 10 things to know.

Google Analytics 4 is here and is now the default version of Google Analytics when you create a new property.  For all the existing Universal Analytics, current or previous version depending on how you lo

ok at it, there is an option to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. I am sure you have several questions regarding this upgrade process. I am going to answer many of those in this and several other blog posts.

Send me your questions by leaving a comment below:

  1. The upgrade is not what it sounds - Upgrade usually means that you lose the previous version and just get the new functionality, right? Well, that is not the case with Google Analytics upgrade to Google Analytics 4. Upgrade in this case means that you will get a new Google Analytics property that will take some basic settings from your current Google Analytics property and use those to set up a new Google Analytics 4 property. So there is no need to worry about losing your existing property. After the upgrade process is complete, you will actually have two properties collecting data for your web site. This gives you an opportunity to play with the new version without losing your existing setup and functionality.
  2. New setup and possibly new tags will be required - If you are using gtag on your current site then you can use it to send the data to the new Google Analytics 4 property. If not then you will have to put new tags. The global site tag (gtag.js) is a JavaScript tagging framework and API that allows you to send event data to Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Marketing Platform.  If you are not using gtag then you will need to add new tags on your site. If you are using Google Tag Manager then you will have to set up new data collection tags. Many things such as events, audience, and conversions will require setup changes.
  3. No Views - In Universal Analytics you had the ability to create a view to see a subset of your data. For example, if you wanted to remove traffic to your site from within your organization then you would create a new view, apply a filter that removed internal traffic, and then used that view to understand site usage by "actual" users.  (learn more about the view on Optizent YouTube channel). In Google Analytics 4 you don’t have an option to create views instead of views you can use analysis Hub or segmentation feature to narrow down to the data that you want to track and analyze.
  4. New data model - Google Analytics 4 has a completely different data model than the previous version - Google Analytics 4 is based around Events and Users. Every session is an event, a page view is an event, every interaction within the browser is already tracked, and an event or can be tracked as an event.
  5. Event tracking has changed - In Universal analytics, event tracking required you to pass the parameters, Category, Action, and Label attributes. Event tracking has now changed, you now have parameters and values attached to each event and you can pass up to 25 name-value pairs are parameters.  This allows for deeper analysis (check out Google Analytics & Events setup video).
  6. Several Events are tracked without any setup - Google Analytics 4 automatically tracks scroll, outbound link clicks, downloads, engagement with YouTube embedded videos, and onsite-search. They are set up by default when you create a new Google Analytics 4 property. You can disable them if you would like in the admin panel of Google Analytics 4 property (check out Google Analytics & Events setup video).
  7. Goal and conversion tracking has changed - In the past there was a separate setup for Goal tracking where you define different types of goals and set them un in the "Admin" interface of Google Analytics view. Now it is all ever based. You define and track an event and convert an event into a conversion event right within Google Analytics property (check out Google Analytics & Events setup video).
  8. Not all reports are available in Google Analytics 4 - Google Analytics 4 has a limited number of predefined reports. Many of the reports that you have been used to in Universal Analytics are no longer there. Some of them are not available because Google Analytics 4 is still in development, others are not available because the Google Analytics data model has changed and those reports don't make sense anymore. Instead of pre-defined reports, Google Analytics 4 has "Analysis Hub" which is similar to Google Data Studio type reporting or Adobe Analytics Workspace. In this interface, you pick Dimensions, Metrics, and Segments to build the report that you want. This new interface and metrics/dimensions means that you will have a bit of a learning curve so be prepared for it.
  9. No Bounce Rate - Many of you have relied on bounce rate for years to see how successful your site or marketing campaign was. Well, the Bounce rate is no longer in Google Analytics 4. Instead of bounce rate, Google Analytics 4 provides Engaged Sessions. An engaged Session is defined as a visit that engages with the site or app for at least 10 seconds or has two-page view events or a conversion event.
  10. Numbers will not match - Since there is a difference in Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics measurement, data model, and processing of hits, some numbers won't match between the two systems. You will likely find a slight difference in Session count and Active User Count.

Need help with Google Analytics 4? Contact Optizent

Want to learn on your own? Signup for online Google Analytics 4 course on Optizent Academy.

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