Stemming from event-based mobile app analytics, GA4 is different from the session-based Universal Analytics. Since the launch of beta last year, however, the GA4 product team have been working hard to make sure that the common Universal Analytics use cases are preserved.
1. Session reporting
This was added to GA4 at an early stage. The available metrics are, among others:
- Sessions (count of)
- Engagement rate (more or less the opposite of UA’s Bounce Rate )
- Engaged sessions
- Avg. Engagement Time per Session (more or less, time on page with browser tab in the foreground)
Ecommerce was included in the roadmap since the launch of App + Web. For a few months the data collection methods for measuring ecommerce were already available, but no Ecommerce reports in the interface. It changed with the announcement of GA4, with full-fledged ecommerce reporting available . The only missing elements are:
- funnel reporting in the interface
- ecommerce support in Google Tag Manager GA4 tags
But I do not doubt Google are working on it.
3. Rollup reporting
Sending data to multiple properties – such as individual site and rollup property – is available for websites only . With mobile apps, you can send the data to a single property only. Not sure if this is going to change any time soon due to Firebase architecture.
4. Google Ads integration
Full integration allows to easily create Audiences, covering some extra bases compared to Universal Analytics:
- a quicker setup – with GA4, Audiences have been merged with UA’s Segments, so setting up an Audience is simply fewer clicks and less typing
- time-based conditions in sequential audiences
- multiple audience templates:
Fig. 2: GA4’s multiple audience templates
5. Conversion reporting
For Analytics users who rely on conversion rates (e.g. newsletter subscription rate, contact form submission rate etc.), this is where right now GA4 does not tick all the boxes. Right now, you can mark interactions (events) as Conversions in order to use them in Google Ads. In GA4, it is impossible to report on Conversions one particular event – the metric you get is aggregate of all Conversions.
(For those with SQL skill or resources, this poor conversion reporting should not be an issue since it is possible to calculate conversion rates in BigQuery. Still, it is an additional hurdle.)
6. DataStudio integration
A recent addition to GA4, the feature is incomplete now. Currently, these are the chief limitations:
- Event parameters cannot be used in the dashboard – only events.
- Audiences are also unavailable, so you rely on DataStudio filters.
(Again, BigQuery as a data source may come to the rescue, although preparation of the data will require SQL.)