Understanding Google Analytics 4: A Comprehensive Guide

Amit Phaujdar • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4.0 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 the different features of the New Google Analytics 4 along with its benefits, use cases, and setup process.

Table of Contents   

Introduction to Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 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 4.0

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.

Deeper Integration with Google Ads
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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. 

AI-powered Predictions and Insights
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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 the need to add code or set up Event Tracking in Google Tag Manager. In Universal Analytics, Event Tracking required additional processing which includes 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.

Granular User Data Controls
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Understanding the New Google Analytics 4 Setup

Here are the steps you can follow to set up a new Property in Google Analytics:

  • Step 1: Sign in to the Analytics account with your website’s existing Google Analytics Property.
  • Step 2: Navigate to the Admin section, then in the Account column, select the account where you want to create the property for your use.
  • Step 3: Next, select the desired Universal Analytics Property for your suite in the Property column.
  • Step 4: If the option is available users can opt for the “Upgrade to GA4” option and follow the prompts. However, in some cases, this button might not be available. For this case, select the “Create Property” button and then follow the steps to create a new Property for “Web+App”. By default, this leads to the creation of a new Google Analytics 4 Property.
Upgrade to GA4 Window
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  • Step 5: To enable “Data Collection”, you can either connect the existing tracking data from your Traditional Analytics, or you could start with new tags that you can add to your website. This can be done in pretty much the same manner tags are usually added. If your site uses the gtag.js tag you can enable Data Collection with your existing set of tags.
  • Step 6: Inside the GA4 property, you can add “Data Streams” by selecting Data Streams in the property column in the Admin area. Next, you can select “Add Stream” for the type of data you wish to track. Most businesses might want to select “Web” for their website.
Add Stream Window
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  • Step 7: Finally, enter the correct domain, give it a name, and then click on “Create Stream”. There is a “Tagging Instruction” area that is very important for ensuring that information tracking for a new Google Analytics 4 property is connected properly. 
Tagging Instructions Window
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Understanding the Analysis Reports in Google Analytics 4

Here are a few different types of Analysis Reports that you can leverage in GA4 for your business use case:

  1. Cohort Analysis
  2. Path Analysis
  3. Segment Overlap
  4. Funnel Analysis
  5. Exploration

1) Cohort Analysis

A cohort is defined as a group of users with a common characteristic like an event, conversion, or the same acquisition date. For instance, you can create a Cohort Report to see how long it takes people to convert based on a specific marketing tactic.

2) Path Analysis

GA4’s Analysis Hub Pathing Reports are similar to the Behavior Flow Reports of Universal Analytics. The Path Analysis Report visualizes event streams in something called a “Tree Graph”. An Event Stream is defined as a set of events triggered by users along their customer journey.

The Path Analysis technique is instrumental in uncovering looping behavior which might be an indicator of users being stuck to the Marketers. This can be used accordingly by the marketers to let these users move along the Funnel in a seamless fashion. 

3) Segment Overlap

You can use Segments in both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 Properties. In Google Analytics 4, you can use Segments as sessions or user events. Marketers can also build segments containing multiple conditions and arrange those into the “Condition Group”.

You can think of Segments as a specific group of your site users. For instance, a Segment can represent users from a specific city, users who took a specific action like purchasing from a particular product category, or those who visited a specific page.      

4) Funnel Analysis

You can use the Funnel Analysis Report to find out the reasons behind website visitors becoming one-time shoppers and ultimately retain and bring some customers.

In the Funnel Analysis Report, you can easily visualize the various steps shoppers take to finish an event. It also allows you to see their progress based on how well they are succeeding or failing at every step.  

5) Exploration

Google Analytics 4 Exploration offers more control over Data Visualization than was previously possible in Universal Analytics. You get various configuration options within exploration to help you uncover new insights and present your data in a way that makes sense to your client or team.

Understanding Analysis Report Setup in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 offers a new change: the Analysis Hub. The Google Analytics 4 Analysis Hub gives you access to various advanced techniques along with a template gallery that is unique to this platform. These are the steps you can use to create a new Analysis Report in Google Analytics:

  • Step 1: Log in to your Google Analytics Account.
  • Step 2: Click on the Analysis button where you get a graph with a magnifying glass icon. You can find this in the bottom left section under Explore.
  • Step 3: Next, you can select the technique you want to use to analyze your data.
Analysis Hub Diagram
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This blog talks about the different aspects of Google Analytics 4 in detail like its features, benefits, setup, and much more.

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No-code Data Pipeline For Google Analytics 4