GA4: 6 Essential Updates You Should Know

October 12, 2023
"Glew was instrumental in helping us with our Google Analytics as we transitioned to GA4.  They provided more help and insight in 2 weeks than we could ourselves which prompted us to sign up with them! I definitely recommend reaching out to them if you’re challenged with the GA4 transition!” -Ian Stewart, CMO of Wedge Brands

As the digital realm continues to evolve at a rapid pace, so do the tools and technologies we rely upon to make sense of it all. Enter Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google's next-generation analytical tool. With its promise to revolutionize the way businesses perceive user data and insights, GA4 has become the topic of much discussion, especially for those in the process of transitioning. Here, we delve into four crucial aspects of GA4 that set it apart: Data Freshness, Data Attribution, Visits, and Conversion Rate.

1. UA Historical Data and YoY/MoM Comparisons 

If you haven't yet archived your UA historical data in a data warehouse, worry not! Glew is here to assist. We're aiding our clients in preserving their UA data. Through our ELT procedure, you can seamlessly integrate both UA and GA4 data, offering the year-on-year and month-on-month comparisons you've been seeking, ensuring you don't feel lost during the transition.

2. Retention Period

It's essential to be aware of the data retention settings, especially if you aim to maintain more than GA4's default two months of data. For GA4 properties, user-level data retention can be set either for 2 months or extended to 14 months, with this retention span also applicable to conversion data. If you're using the 360 version, there's an option to retain data for an extended period. To modify these settings, navigate to the Admin Page, select the PROPERTY column, then click on Data Settings > Data Retention. Concerned about retaining data beyond 14 months? Partner with Glew, and rest assured, your historical data remains intact indefinitely!

3. Data Freshness

In the dynamic realm of the digital environment, immediate insights are of paramount importance. GA4 defines 'data freshness' as the duration Google Analytics takes to gather and process an event from your domain. For instance, if this duration spans 20 minutes, then the data freshness stands at 20 minutes. However, Google Analytics might sometimes have a data processing lag ranging from 24 to 48 hours. 

Given this potential delay, I suggest reviewing the data from the preceding week every Monday morning, specifically from the prior Monday to Friday. This practice ensures you're accessing the most recent and accurate data. Whether it's monitoring a sudden surge in site visits due to a trending campaign or assessing the real-time effect of an advertisement, this approach guarantees you're always working with the most precise information, facilitating faster and better-informed decision-making.

4. Data Attribution

Accurately attributing conversions and interactions to specific touchpoints in a user's journey is essential for effective marketing. GA4 introduces a more refined attribution model, moving away from the last-click attribution prevalent in Universal Analytics (UA).  The attribution models that are available in GA4 are:

  • Event Acquisition: GA4 uses the cross-channel data-driven model as the reporting attribution model by default
  • Default Channel Group- The channels by which users arrive at your site/app
  • User Acquisition: 
  • First User Channel Group: The channel by which users first arrived at your site/app
  • Traffic Acquisition: 
  • Default Channel Group - The channels by which users arrived at your site/app when they initiated a new session

In GA4 - Google allows you to change your default attribution model. If you go under “Attribution settings” in your property settings, you can choose from Data-Driven, Last Click, First Click, Linear, Position-based, or Time Decay. As mentioned above GA4 defaults to the data-driven model.

5. Visits

GA4 has redefined how visits are perceived and reported. In UA, we were familiar with 'Sessions', a model that had its own set of limitations. GA4 replaces 'Sessions' with 'Engagements'. This shift aims to capture a more accurate picture of user interactions.

An 'Engagement' in GA4 is determined by a more holistic view of user behavior, considering factors like time spent on-site, interactions, and more. This nuanced approach ensures that businesses understand not just the number of visits but the quality and depth of these visits.

6. Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate has always been a cornerstone metric for any digital business. With GA4, the approach to measuring conversions has been enhanced. The platform allows for more granular event tracking, enabling businesses to define and track micro-conversions (like video views, file downloads, etc.) alongside macro-conversions (like product purchases).

Moreover, with the cross-platform tracking capabilities of GA4, conversion rate measurements can encapsulate a user's journey across devices and platforms, providing a more unified view of conversion paths.

At Glew, we recognize that shifting to GA4 might pose challenges, which is why we're here to provide essential guidance to smooth the transition. In an ever-evolving digital environment, tools such as GA4 are crucial for businesses to remain competitive and even flourish. If you require assistance during this transition phase, don't hesitate to contact Glew. We have a history of supporting our customers through this change seamlessly!

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