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High 4 Issues to Know About GA4 — Whiteboard Friday

The writer’s views are totally his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and will not at all times mirror the views of Moz.

On this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Dana brings you some particulars on the thrilling new world of Google Analytics 4. Watch and discover ways to speak about it when shoppers and coworkers are intimidated by the transfer.

whiteboard outlining four insights into GA4

Click on on the whiteboard picture above to open a excessive decision model in a brand new tab!

Video Transcription

Hello, my title is Dana DiTomaso. I am President at Kick Level. And I’m right here right this moment at MozCon 2022 to deliver you some particulars on the thrilling world of Google Analytics 4, which I do know all of you’re like, “Ugh, I do not need to find out about analytics,” which is completely honest. I additionally didn’t need to find out about analytics.

After which I form of realized about it whether or not I appreciated it or not. And you need to, too, sadly. 

So I believe the most important factor concerning the transfer from Common Analytics to GA4 is that individuals are like they log in and all the things appears to be like totally different. “I do not prefer it.” After which they go away. And I agree the person interface in GA4 leaves quite a bit to be desired. I do not assume there’s essentially been a variety of good training, particularly for these of us who aren’t analysts on a day-to-day foundation.

We’re not all knowledge scientists. I am not an information scientist. I do advertising. So what I am hoping is I can inform you the issues you need to find out about GA4 on only a primary kind of stage, so that you’ve got a greater vocabulary to speak about it when individuals are horrified by the transfer to GA4, which is inevitable. It will occur. You have to get it in your web site beginning principally instantly, if you happen to do not have already got it. So I began out with three issues, after which I noticed there was a fourth factor. So that you get a bonus, thrilling bonus, however we’ll begin with the primary three issues. 

1. It is totally different

So the very first thing it is totally different, which I do know is apparent. Sure, after all, Dana it is totally different. But it surely’s totally different. Okay, so in Common Analytics, there have been various kinds of hits that might go into analytics, which is the place hits got here from initially as a metric that folks talked about. So, for instance, in Common Analytics, you would have a pageview, or you would have a transaction, or you would have an occasion.

And people had been all various kinds of hits. In GA4, all the things is an occasion. There’s a pageview occasion. There’s a transaction occasion. There’s, nicely, an occasion occasion. I imply, you title the occasions no matter you need. And due to that, it is really quite a bit higher option to report in your knowledge.

So, for instance, one of many issues that I do know individuals at all times wished to have the ability to report on in Common Analytics is what pages did individuals see and the way did that relate to conversion price. And that was actually tough as a result of a pageview was one thing that was on the hit scope stage, which implies it was identical to the person factor that occurred, whereas conversion price is a session scoped factor.

So that you could not mash collectively a success scope factor with pageview with conversion price, which is session scoped. They only did not mix collectively until you probably did some fancy mixing stuff in Knowledge Studio. And who’s received time for that? So now in GA4, as a result of all the things is an occasion, you might have much more freedom with how one can slice and cube and interpret your knowledge and determine what pages do individuals interact with earlier than they really transformed, or what was that path, not simply the touchdown web page, however the complete person journey on their path to conversion. In order that half is basically thrilling. 

2. Engagement price just isn’t reverse bounce price

Second factor, engagement price is a brand new metric in GA4. They do have bounce price. They did just lately announce it. I am aggravated at it, so we will speak about this just a little bit. Engagement price just isn’t reverse bounce price. However it’s in GA4.

So in Common Analytics, bounce price was a metric that folks reported on on a regular basis, although they should not have. I hate bounce price a lot. Simply image like a dumpster fireplace GIF proper now throughout your display screen. I hate bounce price. And why I hate bounce price is it is so simply faked. As an instance, for instance, your boss says to you, “Hey, you realize what, the bounce price on our web site is just too excessive. Might you repair it?”

You are like, “Oh, yeah, boss. Completely.” After which what you do is each time anyone comes in your web site, you ship what’s referred to as an interactive occasion off to Google Analytics on the similar time. And now you might have a 0% bounce price. Congratulations. You bought a increase since you made it up. Bounce price might completely be faked, no query. And so once we moved over to GA4, initially there was no bounce price.

There was engagement price. Engagement price has its personal points, nevertheless it’s not measuring something just like what bounce price was. Bounce price in UA was an occasion did not occur. It did not matter if you happen to spent an hour and a half on the web page studying it intently. In case you did not interact in an occasion that was an interactive occasion, that meant that you just had been nonetheless counted as a bounce if you left that web page.

Whereas in GA4, an interact session is by default somebody spending 10 seconds with that tab, that web site open, so lively of their browser, or they visited two pages, or they’d a conversion. Now this 10-second rule I believe is fairly quick. Ten seconds just isn’t essentially a variety of time for somebody to be engaged with the web site.

So that you would possibly need to change that. It is underneath the tagging settings in your knowledge stream. So if you happen to go to Admin and you then click on in your knowledge stream and also you go to extra tagging settings and you then go to session timeouts, you’ll be able to change it in there. And I’d suggest taking part in round with that and seeing what feels proper to you. Now GA4 actually simply as I am filming this has introduced bounce price, which really it’s reverse engagement price. Please do not use it.

As a substitute, take into consideration engagement price, which I believe is a way more usable metric than bounce price was in UA. And I am form of excited that bounce price in UA goes away as a result of it was [vocalization]. 

3. Your knowledge is not going to match

All proper. So subsequent factor, your knowledge just isn’t going to match. And that is worrying since you’ve been reporting on UA knowledge for years, and now unexpectedly it is not going to match and other people will likely be like, “However you stated there have been 101 customers, and right this moment you are saying there have been really 102. What’s the issue?”

So, I imply, when you’ve got that form of dialogue along with your management, you actually need to have a dialog concerning the thought of accuracy in analytics, as in it is not, and error and all the things else. However I imply, actually the info goes to be totally different, and generally it is quite a bit totally different. It is not just a bit bit totally different. And it is as a result of GA4 measures stuff otherwise than UA did. There’s a web page on Google Analytics Assist, which fits into it in depth. However listed below are a number of the highlights that I believe you need to actually know kind of off the highest of your head if you’re speaking to individuals about this. 

Pageviews and distinctive pageviews

So very first thing, a pageview metric, which we’re all aware of, in Common Analytics, this was all pageviews, together with repeats. In GA4, similar, pageview is pageview. Nice.

To this point so good. Then we had distinctive pageviews in Common Analytics, which was solely single views per session. So if I seemed on the homepage after which I went to a companies web page and I went again to the homepage, I’d have two pageviews of the homepage for pageview. I’d have one pageview of the homepage in distinctive pageviews. That metric doesn’t exist in GA4. So that’s one thing to actually look ahead to is that if you happen to had been used to reporting on distinctive pageviews, that’s gone.

So I like to recommend now altering your experiences to kind of like stroll individuals by this consolation stage of getting them used to the very fact they are not going to get distinctive pageviews anymore. Or you’ll be able to implement one thing that I speak about in one other one in every of my Whiteboard Fridays about having the ability to measure the share of people who find themselves reloading tabs and tab hoarders. You might work that into this just a little bit.


Okay. Subsequent factor is customers. Customers is basically I believe a tough matter for lots of people to get their heads round as a result of they assume, oh, person, that implies that if I am on my laptop computer after which I am going to my cellular system, clearly I’m one person. You are normally not, sadly. You do not essentially get related throughout a number of gadgets. Or if you happen to’re utilizing say a privacy- centered browser, like Safari, you might not even be related in the identical system, which form of sucks.

The true solely method you’ll be able to actually measure if somebody is a person throughout a number of periods is when you’ve got a login in your web site, which not all people does. A number of B2B websites haven’t got logins. A number of small enterprise websites haven’t got logins. So customers is already form of a sketchy metric. And so sadly it is one that folks used to report on quite a bit in Common Analytics.

So in Common Analytics, customers was whole customers, new versus returning. In GA4, it is now lively customers. What’s an lively person? The documentation is just a little unclear on how Google considers an lively person. So I like to recommend studying that in depth. Simply know that that is going to be totally different. You by no means ought to have been reporting on new versus returning customers anyway, until you had a login in your web site as a result of it was such a sketchy, unhealthy metric, however I do not assume lots of people knew how unhealthy it was.

It is okay. Simply begin altering your experiences now in order that when you need to begin utilizing GA4, on July 1, 2023, for actual UA is finished, then at the very least it is not a lot of a shock if you do make that transition. 


So one different factor to consider as nicely with the modifications is periods. So in Common Analytics, a session was the lively use of a web site, so that you’re clicking on stuff.

It had a 30-minute timeout. And you could have heard by no means to make use of UTM tags on inner hyperlinks in your web site. And the rationale why is as a result of if somebody clicked on an inner hyperlink in your web site that had UTMs on it, your session would reset. And so you’d have what’s referred to as session breaking, the place unexpectedly you’d have a session that principally began in the course of your web site with a brand-new marketing campaign and supply and medium and fully indifferent from the session that they simply had.

They’d be a returning person although. That is nice. You should not have been reporting that anyway. Whereas in GA4 as an alternative, now there’s an occasion as a result of, keep in mind, all the things is an occasion now. There’s an occasion that is known as session begin. And in order that information when, nicely, the session begins. After which there’s additionally a 30-minute timeout, however there isn’t any UTM reset.

Now that does not imply that you need to go on the market and begin utilizing UTMs on inner hyperlinks. I nonetheless do not assume it is a fantastic thought, nevertheless it’s not essentially going to interrupt issues the best way that it used to. So now you can see the place did somebody begin on my web site by wanting on the session begin occasion. I do not know if it is essentially 100% dependable. We have seen conditions the place if you happen to’re utilizing consent administration instruments, for instance, like a cookie compliance instrument, you’ll be able to have points with periods beginning and whatnot.

So simply hold that in thoughts is that it is not essentially completely foolproof, however it’s a actually fascinating option to see the place individuals began on the location in a method that you would not do that earlier than. 

4. Use BigQuery

So bonus, bonus earlier than we go. All proper, the fourth factor that I believe you need to find out about GA4, use BigQuery. There is a built-in BigQuery export underneath the settings for GA4. Use it.

The rationale why you need to use it’s: (a) the experiences in GA4 should not nice, the default experiences, they form of suck; (b) even the explorations are a bit questionable, like you’ll be able to’t actually format them to look good in any respect. So what I am saying to individuals is do not actually use the experiences inside GA4 for any kind of helpful reporting functions. It is extra like an advert hoc reporting. However even then, I’d nonetheless flip to BigQuery for many of my reporting wants.

And the rationale why is as a result of GA4 has some thresholding utilized. So you do not essentially get all the info out of GA4 if you’re really experiences in it. And this occurred to me really simply this morning earlier than I recorded this Whiteboard Friday. I used to be seeking to see how many individuals engaged with the shape on our web site, and since it was a comparatively low quantity, it stated zero.

After which I seemed on the knowledge in BigQuery and it stated 12. That quantity may very well be lacking from the experiences in GA4, however you’ll be able to see it in BigQuery, and that is due to the thresholding that is utilized. So I at all times suggest utilizing the BigQuery knowledge as an alternative of the GA4 knowledge. And in Google Knowledge Studio, if that is what you employ to your reporting instrument, the identical challenge applies if you use GA4 as an information supply.

You’ve got the identical thresholding issues. So actually simply use BigQuery. And also you need not know BigQuery. All it is advisable do is get the info going into BigQuery after which open up Google Knowledge Studio and use that BigQuery desk as your knowledge supply. That is actually all it is advisable know. No SQL required. If you wish to be taught it, that is neat.

I do not even comprehend it that nicely but. However it’s not one thing you need to know with a purpose to report nicely on GA4. So I hope that you just discovered this beneficial and you’ll have just a little bit extra of a greater dialogue along with your staff and your management about GA4. I do know it appears rushed. It is rushed. Let’s all admit it is rushed, however I believe it may be a extremely good transfer. I am actually excited concerning the new varieties of information and the quantities of information that we will seize now in GA4.

It actually frees us from just like the class motion label stuff that we had been tremendous tied to in Common Analytics. We are able to file a lot extra fascinating knowledge now on each occasion. So I am enthusiastic about that. The precise transition itself could be form of painful, however then a 12 months from now, we’ll all look again and chortle, proper? Thanks very a lot.

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