Google Analytics 4: Events Review
Last post people! Last week reviewing my CXL Minidegree Program for Digital Analytics. 🤓
Welcome to my 12th week, reviewing the CXL Institute Minidegree for Digital Analytics. This week, I have something fresh for you… This week we are going to discuss about Google Analytics 4, and event tracking. So, follow me to learn more on the matter…
Google Analytics 4 is the latest Analytics version, introduced by Google about 3 months ago. The “next generation of Google Analytics is for all Analytics users: those with only a website, only an app, and those with both! The posts and courses around the platform are countless, since Google announced their new platform. This is a major change for us — the people who knew and loved Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4 has a lot of different features. Some of them are made to ease our lives, and others are made — maybe — to prepare us for a cookie-less future.
In today’s post, we are going to discuss about events, which is the main concept around Google Analytics 4.
What changes come with the events
In Google Analytics 4, we have this new event-driven data model. Events have always had a hierarchy in the Universal Analytics version with category, action, and label. In Google Analytics 4, events work very different, and we’re going to cover that in this post.
First, let’s start with a brief overview of how events worked in Universal Analytics. Now, if you’ve used Google Analytics in the past and you’ve ever set it up, Universal Analytics uses a hit based data model. That means when we track certain interactions like a page view, there’s actually a different data type for that interaction. So when we track a page view and we track an event there are actually two different hits,and they’re fundamentally different. Historically this has created a number of challenges.
In Google Analytics 4, events now simply have an event name and event parameters. This is a big key difference. We no longer have this hierarchy of category, action, and label, and instead we have an event and free form parameters. In the new data model of Google Analytics, everything is represented as an event. A page is an event, a click is an event, a scroll is an event, a session start is an event.
So, let’s say you want to implement something like video tracking. In Google Analytics 4, this is where it becomes a lot simpler than it used to, because what you have is to define an event name. It’s the grouping of all of the interactions you want. So, we could have an event name and now instead of having an action and a label, you can create your own parameters to use however you want. So you can make something like a video action, and a video name, and a video type, and a video author.
Another change of the events as we know them is that in Universal Analytics, when you create an event category, action, label, they automatically showed up in Google Analytics’ reports. In Google Analytics 4, the only thing that shows up is your event name. Your parameters won’t show up in the UI without registering them. If you don’t register them, then the only place they would be available is BigQuery.
Now, within Google Analytics, if we go in admin settings, we set up something called Automatic Measurement. Remember in our data streams, Google Analytics is now tracking things automatically for us. One of them events is about the scroll of the page. So, what this actually does is that it tracks when someone gets to the 90% kind of threshold or milestone on the page. So it’s not tracking 10% and 25% and 50%, by default enhanced measurement only tracks 90%. What happens, if we wanted 10, 25, and 50%? Well, to do that, we have to add our own scroll tracking.
Note that within events, we have a limit of 500 events that we can create. And what we mean by that, is 500 unique event names. So if you create your own scroll tracking and you name it something different, you are actually creating two separate events, and that might not be an ideal approach.
Another very big feature within Google Analytics 4 is that we can modify and create events within the platform. And these options allow you to change an event directly in the UI or create an event from an event.
Events power everything in Google Analytics 4. In Charles Farina’s course, I learned everything I needed to know about the new event-driven data model of the new Analytics platform. We covered the automatic measurement and learned why and how you need to customize it. We implemented custom events on a website we built together.
This was a very brief document about the changes we found in the brand-new Google Analytics 4. Events are the main identity of this new Analytics platform and we have a lot to explore in order to be prepared for the full migration in the new platform. The only sure thing is that the introductory course of Charles Farina about Google Analytics 4 is a great way to have a high-level guidance in the new features, how they work and what to expect from them.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this is my last week in the CXL Institute. The deadlines and the volume of the new knowledge, sometimes was overwhelming, but I never regretted it at all. It was a great journey that taught me a lot of staff — technical or not. I recommend it to everyone that wants to have an overview about the Digital Analytics tools and mindset.
My name is Alexandra Poulopoulou and I work as a Data & Analytics Lead at Reprise Digital. During my professional years, I have been involved in several analytics projects in order to drive successful business decisions.