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You Ask, I Answer: Interpreting Google Analytics 4 Data?

Ivelina asks, “I can’t find anything in the new GA4. So what if you are not that good at reading raw data?”

You’re not alone. Many, many people are having trouble, and it’s because of the change in mindset about how Google Analytics 4 collects data. When you compare the two side by side, GA4 appears to be missing a lot more, and that’s because they’ve made the application a lot more flexible. The tradeoff is that understanding your configuration is now uniquely up to you. Be sure you’re using it for what it’s intended for: analysis, not reporting.

That’s the key mindshift to understand: Google Analytics is no longer a reporting tool. That’s Data Studio’s role.

You Ask, I Answer: Interpreting Google Analytics 4 Data?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode evalina asks, I can’t find anything new Google Analytics for.

So what if you are not that good at reading raw data? Yeah, so you’re not alone.

In this, many, many people are having trouble.

And it’s because of the change in mindset about how Google Analytics four collects data, and how it displays data.

Google Analytics, four has a very different philosophy about measurement and about the way it’s structured.

It is a lot more freeform.

The onus of configuration has been, in some ways put on the user.

Let me show you an example.

So let’s let’s switch over here.

So what we’re looking at here, this is Google Analytics, three data, right? This is in Google Data Studio.

And one of the things you’ll notice is that when you set up your first table, or whatever, in Google Analytics, three classic Google Analytics, you’re given all these different options for the different things that you can report on, right? There’s a lot of them, if you count through the API guide, there’s 510 different dimensions and metrics out of the box that you can report on.

And this gets to be a lot, right? There’s, there’s an awful lot of stuff here that, you know, granted, many people have spent a lot of time over the last 15 years learning.

But from a configuration perspective is not very flexible.

When you look at Google Analytics major competitor Omniture, from Adobe, it’s a lot more Adobe’s Omniture is more flexible in that it tries to get things like you know, goals to be more flexible and have more options.

And it’s really, it’s difficult to do that, in classic Google Analytics.

When you look at Google Analytics for and what comes out of the box, you’ll notice this list is a lot shorter, right? It is down to events, conversions, you know, sessions users some of the real basics.

So the question is, where did it all go? Where it all has gone, is, instead of Google saying, here’s all the things that you have available to you, Google saying, you decide what is available to you, you decide what you want, in your configuration, build it with Tag Manager, and then the things that are important to you put in here.

So for example, I put in just a value field, right, even though obviously, there’s an event value.

But I can add fields and parameters.

So in Google Tag Manager, I would go in and define if there’s something really weird or unique about the way I want to be tracking a type of conversion, maybe a parameter that isn’t included out of the box.

Now, I can go in, for example, to Google Tag Manager and just set it up and just run that conversion or that event with my thing or the thing that I care about.

whereas previously in the in the older version of Google Analytics, I couldn’t do that.


So let’s look at this example here.

If I go to newsletter, so I can edit this now at and instead of having to mess around with, you know, categories and actions and labels and all that stuff in in Google Analytics three, I can specify what parameters I want to track, is it a button, click sure I can put that in here.

Is it the day of the week? Sure, I can put that in here, too.

And so this philosophy is that Google has switched to in and Google Analytics for is that you decide what’s important to you.

You decide beyond the basics, that it sets up out of the box, if there are specific values that you want to have.

And then they appear as fields and parameters in in Data Studio in the back end, and you can report on them.

So for example, if you wanted, if you had a website where you had users who are logged in, and I was something that tag managers already set up to track, right? You could, in your goals, specify a logged in user.

Right, so it’s a lot more flexible in Google Analytics, three, you’d have to jump to all sorts of kinds of hoops just to make that work, but in Google Analytics for you and make that available parameter that would be trackable.

And then you could measure those conversions, the event of the conversions, and split it up between logged in user and not logged in user.

So that’s the trade off that Google Analytics for is trying to make is, Google has said your configuration is up to you.

Instead of trying to guess what everybody wants and making 510 values, many of which most of us aren’t going to use.

Google is said you decide what you want to use, you program it into Tag Manager and will display it.

That’s one of the reasons why they can now offer BigQuery the database to everyone who’s using Google Analytics for account because there’s a pretty good chance that most of us are not going to try and replicate all 510 of the old fields right into into this.

And so the data storage footprint is going to be a much smaller for Google Analytics for in the beginning.

As you add more customizations, as you add more stuff, it will get bigger.

Now to the question of, you can’t find anything? Yeah, there’s, again, what comes out of the box is not designed for the end user, the business end user in Google Alex for it’s designed for someone who is an actual analyst.

So if we go into my ga four view here, Google Analytics four is an actual analytics engine, in the sense that there’s a few canned reports.

So acquisition is pretty straightforward.

Where’d my stuff come from, right users traffic engagement is pretty straightforward.

What got people stick around.

So this is the pages.

And then these are all the events that you could be sending.

Again, everything is at the event level in Google Analytics for so you get the standard ones here, but you can program and more you can program in return users, right, it’s not necessarily included out of the box, you can program in logged in users, you can program in users who have been on more than five pages, highly engaged users, any event that you could think of that fits within the event model, you can program in here, and then you can report on it.

monetization is pretty straightforward.

e commerce, I think it’s actually easier now for folks than it is in in ga three and that there’s less to turn on.

It’s a lot of e commerce stuff is baked right in.

And as long as your e commerce vendor is using a sensible structure and or an approved Google structure from ga three, it’s going to show up automatically in ga four.

So that is equally pretty straightforward.

And then retention.

You know, how did you keep your users is all pretty straightforward stuff.

But again, this is an analysis engine.

So you can see at any point in the application, you can add in more stuff, you can remove stuff.

And then if you go into the analysis hub, you can actually find individual templates.

This is where some of the more traditional reports from Google Analytics, three are now showing up.

So you can start to look at specific use cases and have these essentially, pre built reports brought into ga four.

But ga four is not where you’re supposed to be doing.

Your reporting.

So as you’re doing your analysis here, you do detective work here, and then you report in Data Studio.

So the big question that you have to tackle with Google Analytics for is, if you can’t find something, is it because g4 is has removed it or because ga four is now no longer the place to be doing that.

If you’ve got a canned report that you use a lot in ga three, there’s a very good chance that the intent is that you replicate it as a dashboard in Data Studio and ga four.

And that’s where you do that you look for those canned reports, because analysis is different than reporting.

analysis is figuring out what happened.

And then Data Studio and reporting is telling somebody else what happened and letting them have a consolidated view of that so that they don’t have to repeat the in the analysis process.

And that’s going to be a big, big head shift for a lot of folks is they’re used to ga being a reporting tool.

And it’s now an analysis tool.

So that means you’ve got to get really comfortable with Data Studio and start working with data, even with ga three, your existing Google Analytics account and get used to working with Data Studio get used to building reports that fit your needs.

And it will make working with Google Analytics for a lot easier.

Because you won’t have to be trying to force this interface to do things that it no longer does.

Instead, look at your ga three account and say okay, how can I take this report that I’m very familiar with and replicate it in ga four? tall order? If you have follow up questions about leaving the comments box below, subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter.

I’ll talk to you soon take care want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems? This is Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you

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