Google Analytics 4 Property Simplified: 2 Critical Aspects

on Data Analytics, Data Driven Strategies, Google Analytics 4 • August 27th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

Google Analytics 4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics that houses enhanced and deeper integration with Google Ads, Expanded Predictive Insights, Cross-device Management Capabilities among other useful features.

This blog talks about Google Analytics new features and their benefits, use cases, and setup process. It also discusses the Google Analytics 4 Property benefits and setup.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Google 4 Analytics

Google Analytics Logo
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Google describes the primary purpose of Google Analytics 4 as a next-generation approach to X-channel Measurement, “Privacy-first” Tracking, and AI-based Predictive Data all at once. Google Analytics 4 uses Google’s advanced Machine Learning models to capture data for user behavior and website traffic. It can do so without having to rely on “Hits” from each page.

It is built on the same platform for the “App+Web” system released by Google previously. Here are a few key highlights of Google Analytics 4:

  • Google Analytics 4 is focused on giving Marketers a more holistic understanding of the Customer Journey. It is more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey instead of individual metrics across pages, segments, or devices.
  • It has been designed to work without the need for identifying data or cookies.
  • The Data Import functionality in Google Analytics 4 can now include a wide range of data from non-website sources within one property.
  • It also allows Cross-domain Tracking that does not rely on code adjustments. Cross-domain tracking in GA4 can be done within the User Interface itself.
  • Google Analytics 4 also provides “Data Streams” instead of the segments and views used by old Universal Analytics properties.     
Google Analytics 4 Working
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Understanding the Benefits of Google Analytics 4

Here are a few benefits of leveraging Google Analytics 4 for your business use case:

1) Deeper Integration with Google Ads

Marketers can easily maintain and build audiences from their visitors across the web and their app. If users qualified for an audience list completed a purchase within the app, the list would be updated automatically to remove the user from the audience list. This is done so that this particular user isn’t retargeted with ads.

Benefit 1 of Google Analytics 4
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2) AI-powered Predictions and Insights

In this new version, apart from Machine Learning powered insights, Google Analytics 4 introduces alerts to help Marketers stay abreast of the latest data trends such as surging demand for a product being sold by them. They can use Google Analytics 4 to predict outcomes, like the potential revenue a business could make from a particular subset of customers and churn rates among other key metrics. These insights can help Marketers predict actions that their customers might make in the long run. This allows them to focus on higher-value audiences. 

Benefit 2 of Google Analytics 4
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3) Codeless Event Tracking 

Google Analytics’s expanded codeless features make it fairly simple for Marketers to measure and track in-app and on-site actions that matter in real-time. This could be a video play or a page scroll and can be done without adding code or setting up Event Tracking in Google Tag Manager. In Universal Analytics, Event Tracking required additional processing, including latency and the data not being available until the next day.

4) Customer Lifecycle-framed Reporting

This marks a key difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 in terms of the organization of reports. The reports are now organized to help Marketers zero in on specific aspects of the customer journey. For instance, you can observe which channels are driving new customers in the User Acquisition Report. The Retention and Engagement Reports can then be used to analyze and understand customer actions. 

5) Granular User Data Controls

Google Analytics 4 provides options to help advertisers comply with several data regulations. A few examples of such Data Regulations would be  CCPA and GDPR. It comes with a Consent Mode that is designed for sites that wish to acquire end-user consent to collect analytics data. This mode offers separate consent opt-ins for ads and analytics. In this new version, Data deletion capabilities have also improved, thus enabling businesses to comply with deletion requests from users. They can do this without having to remove more data than necessary. It also includes a preview mode for businesses to verify the data they are about to delete.

Benefit 5 of Google Analytics 4
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  • Transformations: Hevo provides preload transformations through Python code. It also allows you to run transformation code for each event in the pipelines you set up. You need to edit the event object’s properties received in the transform method as a parameter to carry out the transformation. Hevo also offers drag and drop transformations like Date and Control Functions, JSON, and Event Manipulation to name a few. These can be configured and tested before putting them to use.
  • Connectors: Hevo supports 100+ integrations to SaaS platforms, files, databases, analytics, and BI tools. It supports various destinations including Google Analytics 4, Amazon Redshift, Snowflake Data Warehouses; Amazon S3 Data Lakes; and MySQL, SQL Server, TokuDB, DynamoDB, and PostgreSQL databases a few.  
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Understanding Google Analytics 4 Property Setup

To add a GA4 Property to a site that has already leveraged Analytics, follow along with the steps mentioned below:

  • Step 1: Sign in to Your Google Analytics account, and hover over to the Admin button.
  • Step 2: In the Account column, select the account where you want to set up the Google Analytics 4 Property (in the case of a single Google Analytics account, it will be selected by default).
  • Step 3: In the Property column, choose the Universal Analytics property that currently collects data for your website. Next, click on the GA4 Setup Assistant. 
  • Step 4: Click on the Get Started button under the “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 Property” to complete this step.
  • Step 5: If your website uses the gtag.js tag, you can use the Enable data collection to save time using your existing tags option. On the other hand, if you use Google Tag Manager, website builders/CMS, or if your website is tagged with analytics.js the Google Analytics 4 Setup wizard won’t be able to reuse your existing tagging. So for these use cases, you will have to add the tags yourself.  
  • Step 6: Click on Create Property to get started with a Google Analytics 4 Property. 

After the last step, this is what the Google Analytics 4 wizard does:

  • It creates a new Google Analytics 4 Property.
  • Google Analytics 4 Wizard activates enhanced measurement in your Google Analytics 4 Property.
  • It establishes a connection between your Google 4 Analytics and Universal Analytics properties. This connection allows you to utilize Setup Assistant in your Google Analytics 4 Property to move configurations from your Universal Analytics property to your Google Analytics 4 Property.
  • The Google Analytics 4 Wizard copies the website URL, timezone, property name, and currency settings from your Universal Analytics property.
Google Analytics 4 Property Setup
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After the setup is complete, you can verify that the data is being collected by selecting Realtime from the report navigation. Surf your website and check to see activity on the Realtime Report.

Understanding the Working of Events and Parameters with Google Analytics 4 Property

An Event is defined as any distinct action that takes place at a distinct time associated with a user on your website or app. For instance, add_to_cart, page_view, and form_submit. Events also allow you to send parameters. Parameters are extra pieces of metadata that provide further context to the event. Parameters can be utilized to provide context into how, what, where, and why the event was fired.

Once you have set up the Google Analytics 4 Property as mentioned in the previous section, you can get started with Events that work in tandem with Google Analytics 4 properties. Google Analytics logs various events automatically. This means that you don’t need to rely on code to gather automatically collected event data for your needs.   

You can tweak a Google Analytics 4 Property to collect information about how your content is used in various ways. Here are a few use cases that demonstrate the customization of data being sent to a Google Analytics 4 Property:

  1. User Properties
  2. Conversions
  3. eCommerce
  4. Audiences
  5. Screen Views and Page Views

1. User Properties

User Properties are defined as attributes that you can use to describe the segments of your user base. For example, geographic location and language preference. Google Analytics 4 Property automatically logs a couple of User Properties. Apart from this, it allows you to collect additional data and set up 25 different User Properties per project.

2. Conversions

Conversions tell you how many conversion events were impacted by each aspect of your marketing efforts, along with the value of those events. Google Analytics 4 Property allows you to mark any event as a conversion in your dashboard. Apart from this, there are a few events like purchase and first_open that are marked as Conversions by default.

3. eCommerce

Google Analytics 4 Property recommends that you send a full set of eCommerce events in combination with Conversions to gain a deeper understanding of the full Conversion cycle. The list of supported events represents events like add_to_cart, view_item, and begin_checkout. You can boost your Product Analysis with these events combined with a list of suggested parameters.

4. Audiences

Audiences allow you to partition users in ways that are valuable to the business. You can join parameters, User Properties, and events, along with the Medium, Source, and Campaign Dimensions to create virtually any subset of users.

5. Screen Views and Page Views

Once a Google Analytics 4 Property is installed on a web page, Google Analytics collects page_view events by default. The screen_view event is the mobile equivalent of a page_view event. All the apps that leverage Firebase will automatically log relevant information about app screens when viewed.

In several cases, you might need to configure a web page to capture a screen_view event. This can include web pages with identical functionality and presentation to a mobile screen view, mobile web apps, and mobile apps with embedded WebView screens.

For the mobile Firebase apps, Google Analytics automatically logs the class name of the Activity or UIViewController that is currently in focus. However, Google Analytics logs the text contents of a web page’s <title> tag for the web. You can also explicitly send the value with a screen_name property. You can use the following code snippet as a template:

gtag('event', 'screen_view', {
  'app_name': 'myAppName',
  'screen_name' : 'Home'
});

All the Google Analytics 4 Property Reports are displayed in Google Analytics’Experimental Reporting Pages.     

Conclusion

This blog talks about the different aspects of a Google Analytics 4 Property in detail like its features among other important details. It also discusses the Google Analytics 4 Property benefits and setup.

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No-code Data Pipeline For Google Analytics 4