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Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Set Up Guide for Agencies and Brands

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Set Up Guide for Agencies and Brands


Quick Access

What’s New With GA4

Setting Up GA4 Tracking

Managing GDPR Compliance

Limitations & Stumblepoints

With the July 01, 2023 deadline for sunsetting Universal Google Analytics (UGA) for regular users fast approaching, many agencies and brands are waking up to the daunting task of migrating complex tracking plans set up on UGA to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). However, this task has been made more complex by the fact that schemas relating to events and trackable parameters has changed drastically in GA4 and the platform itself can look intimidating to any new user., But when done properly GA4 can provide a multitude of data and insights across channels, devices, and domains.

What's New with GA4?

New features in Google Analytics 4

GA4 is the fourth version of Google Analytics. Unlike the three early versions of Google Analytics, GA4 uses event parameter models along with the gtag.js library to measure additional features and behaviour and to generate more useful reports with diverse data.

Track Data across Platforms and Devices

With the first three versions of Google Analytics, there was never an easy way to track mobile app usage traffic along with website data. Tracking mobile app usage data meant setting up GA for Firebase or GA for APP view as a separate property, yet this too has changed with the new GA4 tracking.

GA4 helps to integrate and track mobile app and website usage data within a single property enabling more robust cross-platform and cross-device tracking.

Track Heavy Data Volume and Process them Easily

What is more, GA4 has no volume restriction of data each property can receive. But the cherry on the top is the free connection to Google BigQuery, a serverless and cost-effective enterprise data warehouse that allows for cost-effective and secure data analysis.

While this service was once only available for Google 360 customers, anyone can now integrate, manage and analyse GA4 data with Google BigQuery ‘s built-in features like machine learning, geospatial analysis, and business intelligence.

Enhanced Measurement of Events

On GA4 all events are equal but some are more equal than others. The platform tracks basic interactions with a web or mobile app without any additional code or tags to collect essential on-app events such as scroll tracking, video tracking, and site search tracking.

Availability of Debug View

The Debug View report on GA4 helps users monitor and validate events from a website or mobile app in real time, helping to test and troubleshoot issues related to event tracking and understand a user's behaviour as the user explores your website or app.

More Meaningful Engagement Metrics for Accurate Tracking

The GA4 reporting has replaced bounced rate with the engagement rate and is calculated as a ratio between engaged sessions and sessions, an engaged session being a GA session where a user has actively engaged with an app page for at least 10s.

The new engagement metrics on GA4 including engaged sessions, engagement rate, engaged sessions per user, and engagement time helps to track and understand user engagement with a web or a mobile app more accurately.

The Concept of Data Streams

A Data Steam in GA4 is a single data source, which in turn can be a website or a mobile app. A single property can include more than one data stream and a GA4 report can combine data from one or multiple streams.

Setting up GA4 tracking on your web or mobile app

Google Analytics 4 Setup Checklist

A GA4 property or an account cannot collect data retroactively therefore it is best if you have already implemented GA4 on all the web and mobile apps without waiting for the looming deadline.

Checklist for GA4 Tracking Set up

Let’s set up and migrate to GA4 with our easy-to-follow checklist to get a complete view of consumer behaviour across the web and mobile apps by using first-party, modelled data.

  • If you are setting up Google Analytics 4 for a new website it is best to create an account dedicated to a single brand and create a GA4 property parallel to a Universal Google Analytics account.
  • If you are adding a mobile app data stream GA4 creates a corresponding Firebase project and app data stream and automatically links the Firebase project to the property.
  • Users can also link the mobile app stream to an existing Firebase project.
  • If you are adding a web app data stream enable enhanced measurement to automatically collect page views and other events.
  • Turn on Google Signals required for enhanced remarketing and reporting.
  • Set up cross-domain tracking if required.
  • Set up Conversions. You can use the goal migration tool or set up conversions manually
  • Map Universal Analytics Custom Events to GA4.
  • If yours is an eCommerce website, migrate eCommerce data measurement.
  • Link to Google Ads using the Google Ads links migration tool.
  • Migrate Audiences.
  • Validate Conversions.
  • Import Conversion into Google Ads for bidding.
  • Add Analytics audiences to a campaign or an ad group for remarketing.

Methods of Implementation

The GA4 platform offers three main methods of implementation for websites.

  1. Website builder or CMS-hosted websites - Integration of GA4 data stream to popular website builders and CMS is just a matter of copying and pasting the measurement ID for each property data stream to the relevant field in the CMS.
  2. Manual Installation through source code - By copying the Javascript snippet on the installation instruction section of the platform and adding the Google tag code immediately after "head" tag on each page of your website.
  3. Adding the GA4 Configuration and Events tags using Google Tag Manager.

Managing GDPR Compliance with Google Analytics 4

The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is an EU-based privacy law that came into effect on May 25, 2018, giving data subjects or individuals more rights and control over their personal data and its uses.

The regulation applies to any organisation that controls and processes the personal data of data subjects whether or not the organisation is based in the EU. GDPR applies to both automated and manual personal data. Personal data collected and analysed through tracking software like GA4 or cookies are identified as automated personal data.

GDPR Compliance Checklist for GA4

  • Practice Data Minimization by collecting, storing, and processing personal data that is absolutely necessary to provide users with a competent and satisfactory service as stated in the brand’s privacy policy.
  • Implement Privacy by Design by building and updating web and mobile apps, technology systems, and digital services to protect personal data by default to minimise or eliminate the possibility of transferring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to third-party platforms like Google.
  • Provide data subjects control over their data by allowing the right of access to data, the right to be forgotten, the right to object, and the right to rectification.
  • Ask for explicit consent from data subjects at every point of data collection without relying on default consent. It is also important to make it easy for individuals to withdraw consent to data collection.

Limitations and Stumble points of GA4

Where did All the Reports Go?

Many default reports or metrics, which users have come to rely on in early versions of the UGA, are missing from the GA4 report view.

However, users are encouraged to create their own reports using the Exploration Reporting templates in the platform or to integrate the GA4 property with Google Looker Studio, formerly Google Data Studio, to generate purpose-based reports.

Less Intuitive. More Confusing

For many marketers and data analysts, the new UI of the GA4 platform can be a major stumbling block. The change of events parameters and schemas as well as new ways of categorising data can leave even the most competent confused for a while.

The Uphill Task of Data Migration

The process of migrating from UGA to GA4 can be complex and time-consuming with a lot of pre-planning involved. However, once complete it can deliver many benefits.