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What You Need to Know about Google Analytics 4 

Still trying to figure out what to make of it? We’ll give you a quick overview.

Starting July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will be going away . . . along with your data. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) isn’t just a new-looking interface, but Google has changed the way it measures your website’s data. How they’re structuring new reports may signal what Google prioritizes for search result rankings.

What Is the Difference Between GA4 and Universal Analytics? 

Cross-Platform Data 

First, GA4 can measure data from both websites and apps. Companies are being tasked to move more and more of their customer experience and buying journey online for their customers. Websites are not static any longer, and some companies are choosing to integrate software functionality into their online presence. With GA4, you have cross-platform tracking so that you can see behavior throughout the whole journey.

Data Modeling 

The reporting interface is different as well. 

Universal Analytics organized data into Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion Goal Performance. Marketers and business owners who have gotten used to interpreting this data may have difficulty getting used to the new reports in GA4. 

Data in GA4 is now organized by lifecycle:

  • Acquisition
  •  Engagement
  •  Monetization
  •  Retention 

The Monetization reports have more robust functionality for e-commerce websites and apps. They have a purchasing journey, abandoned cart report, and ad reports explicitly related to purchases. 

In addition, GA4 uses machine learning to automatically include trends and insights in the reporting tools, empowering business owners to make better experiences for their customers. 

Privacy and Consent Management 

With increasing focus on privacy and regulations, GA4 has dropped reporting for its third-party cookie product AdSense. It also offers enhanced controls to respect user consent, ensuring businesses collect data ethically and transparently. Some other features include data anonymization and the option to delete their data or opt out of tracking.

Difference Between Session-Based Data and Event-Based Data 

In Google Analytics, understanding the difference between event- and session-based data is crucial for gaining insights into user behavior and optimizing digital strategies. 

Session-Based Data  

In traditional analytics, session-based data has been the prevailing approach. It revolves around the concept of a session, which represents a user’s visit to a website within a specified timeframe. During a session, a user can engage in multiple interactions, such as viewing multiple pages, clicking on links, or completing transactions.

Key metrics derived from session-based data include page views, bounce rate, session duration, and conversion rate.

Event-Based Data  

Event-based data, on the other hand, offers a more granular and detailed approach to tracking user behavior. Instead of focusing on sessions, event-based data follows individual user actions or events.
An event represents a user’s specific action, such as clicking on a button, submitting a form, playing a video, or adding a product to the cart. Each event has various parameters providing additional context, such as event category, label, and value.

Businesses can better understand user interactions and behavior patterns by leveraging event-based data. They can track specific actions contributing to conversions, analyze user engagement at a micro-level, and uncover insights into user preferences and interests. Event-based data enables businesses to perform advanced analysis based on specific events or sequences, such as funnel visualization and user segmentation.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) embraces the event-based data model as its core foundation. It encourages businesses to implement event tracking across their digital properties, including websites and mobile apps.
GA4 provides a more comprehensive view of user behavior across different touchpoints by capturing various user interactions as events. This approach enables businesses to understand user journeys, identify conversion bottlenecks, and personalize user experiences more effectively.

The shift from session-based data to event-based data in GA4 reflects the changing landscape of digital interactions.
With the rise of mobile apps, social media, and interactive web experiences, user actions are no longer confined to a single session. Event-based data offers a more accurate representation of user behavior in today’s multi-device and multi-channel environments.