Demystifying Google Analytics 4: Understanding Reports and Metrics (Part 3 of 5)

August 18, 2023

To help you transition to Google Analytics 4 with greater ease, we’ve rounded up key changes to reports and metrics that every live event marketer should know.

Transitioning to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) marks a significant leap for live event marketers seeking to harness the power of data-driven insights. As Google bids farewell to its legacy analytics solution, Universal Analytics (UA), in favor of GA4, it’s imperative to comprehend the changes that lie ahead. This post is your guide to the pivotal transformations in reports and metrics, designed to empower your transition with confidence.

With just over a month since the official shift from UA to GA4, it’s prudent to acknowledge that UA’s reporting might not be as reliable as it once was. The anticipated end of UA’s support looms, making today the best day to embark on the journey of mastering GA4’s intricacies. If you’ve followed our previous installments (part one and part two) of our Demystifying Google Analytics 4 series, you’re already aware that GA4 introduces a new event-based data model enriched with advanced capabilities, smarter tracking, and AI-driven analysis.

Amidst so much change, the adjustment might seem overwhelming, but fear not! In this third part of our series, we delve deeper into the three most critical shifts in reports and metrics that live event marketers need to embrace.

1. Prioritizing Custom Reports

A striking distinction between GA4 and its predecessor is the absence of pre-structured report collections in GA4. This was one of our biggest criticisms at first, but GA4’s forte lies in its unparalleled customization options. Admittedly, reconstructing familiar UA reports such as Acquisition, E-commerce, and User Behavior demands more analytical prowess and time. However, the transition also offers a silver lining: the freedom to craft tailored, insightful reports aligned with your unique business needs.

GA4 classifies reports into three collections: Lifecycle, User, and Explore. Let’s explore each briefly.

  • Lifecycle: This collection furnishes insights into user behavior across the marketing funnel. Acquisition provides user origins for channel performance analysis, Engagement assesses webpage and app interactions, Monetization delves into revenue-centric events like ticket purchases, and Retention maps user return patterns.
  • User: The User collection surfaces demographic data to deepen your understanding of your audience, providing a comprehensive array of insights including location, interests, age, and language.
  • Explore: The Exploration feature epitomizes GA4’s power, enabling you to construct intricate, custom reports with a wide range of dimensions and metrics, and you can add segments to any bespoke analysis. Building your first Exploration requires a steep learning curve, so before you dive in or consider giving up, first take a moment to assess the most vital data points your team’s eager to track. Then, acquaint yourself with the interface, dimensions, and metrics at your disposal. Lastly, think through how you can architect a custom exploration to get the data you need.

2. Introducing Fresh Metrics

GA4 introduces a handful of novel metrics designed to refine your understanding of user engagement.

  • Engaged Sessions: GA4 defines an engaged session as one lasting over 10 seconds, involving more than one conversion event, and garnering over two views.
  • Average Engagement Time Per Session: This metric replaces UA’s Average Session Duration, measuring the time a user spends engaging with a specific page. It’s a valuable gauge of page productivity.
  • Engagement Rate: A counterpart to Bounce Rate, GA4’s Engagement Rate measures engaged sessions against the total sessions within a specific timeframe. This provides a more accurate representation of user engagement. Note that Bounce Rate and Sessions have been redefined in GA4, which we’ll get into next.

3. Redefining Traditional Metrics

GA4’s event-based data model reshapes familiar metrics carried over from UA.

  • Sessions: Unlike UA, GA4 allows sessions to extend past midnight and seamlessly integrate new traffic sources, resulting in fewer sessions recorded.
  • Bounce Rate: A counterpart to Engagement Rate, Bounce Rate in GA4 calculates the percentage of unengaged sessions. Unlike UA, it’s not a default metric but you can easily configure it for inclusion in reports.
  • Page Views: Simply known as Views in GA4, this metric now encompasses both Page and Screen Views, combining web and app data in one property. This unifies insights that previously required separate properties in UA.

Stay tuned for further insights into the world of GA4, and for more digital marketing wisdom, explore our latest tips for Instagram Threads.