Exploring the Reporting Options with GA4
Clear and effective reporting is a vital step in extracting value from your data. When implementing Google Analytics 4 as opposed to Universal Analytics, there will be a change in the reporting options and in how we investigate the information in the platform. In this blog, we want to explore those reporting options and highlight some of the additional questions GA4 allows you to answer. Whereas Universal Analytics typically included only website data, GA4 combines data from multiple platforms and devices that enables us to ask:
- How do users interact with the website and/or app?
- Does user behaviour vary depending on platform?
- What is the user overlap between different platforms?
There are some fundamental changes to the data structure moving from Universal Analytics to GA4. If you want to get up to speed with these underlying differences, then you can read the first blog in this series GA4 Bitesize: Universal Analytics vs GA4.
Reporting within the Interface
In order to demonstrate the new interface, we’ll be using Google’s Flood-It demo account as well as our own demo account. The Flood-It account tracks the interactions with Google’s Flood-It game across the website and application. Our demo contains example data that we have created to enable a comparison between two different set ups.
The interface looks a little different to what you may be used to from Universal Analytics. The left-hand navigation is still present, but it buckets our reports differently.
However, we can still answer the questions we want to ask about our data. For example, under ‘Acquisition’ and then ‘Overview’ there is a trend of users over time and information around the Sources, Mediums and Campaigns used to acquire them. This allows us to investigate how we are acquiring users just as we would have done previously.
Before we dive into reporting on events, let’s look at the data streams being used to populate these reports. Within the admin settings, we can see that Flood-It! includes three separate platforms: Android, iOS and Web. We are able to report on these platforms all in one place where often we would have to review these separately.
Note that when we refer to the Web stream here, it is for the website across any device and so includes desktop, mobile and tablet traffic. When we refer to platform, we are referring to the website or the native app as indicated in the data streams above. When we refer to device, we mean the category of device used to access the platform. Whilst we have been able to report multiple devices in Universal Analytics, GA4 allows us to report across multiple platforms as well.
Content Consumption & User Interaction
If we want to see the content that users interact with, we can navigate to the ‘Engagement’ reports. ‘Pages and screens’ gives us a breakdown of the content people have been viewing. Page dimensions such as ‘page title’ correspond to the website whereas iOS and Android have screen dimensions such as ‘screen class’. If we use Flood-It! as an example, users playing the game arrive on content like the ‘game_over’ screen.
If we want to see the actions users perform, as well as what they have seen, then the ‘Events’ report lists out all our events by name. Since Flood-It! is gameplay focussed, using our demo instead shows some example events that may be more familiar such as ‘scroll’ or ‘click’. Don’t forget that this also includes our pageviews and screen views, since these are now named events rather than separate hits.
We can also add secondary dimensions to this report. This could be standard dimensions, like the device used to access the platform, or custom dimensions that we have set up. For example, we have created a ‘method’ parameter that tells us how users logged in or signed up.
This parameter is at the event-scope and will populate for the login and sign_up events. If you are unsure around the actions and parameters to track or how to name them, Google has provided support documentation that gives recommended events based on your industry. The benefit of using the recommended naming convention is that these data points can be processed by Google’s machine learning capabilities and enrich the intelligent insights.
As well as a general investigation into user behaviour, we also wanted to answer the question: Does user behaviour vary depending on platform? One way we can approach this is to add in a comparison that separates ‘web’ traffic from ‘iOS’ and ‘Android’.
When building a comparison, you can add conditions based on the dimensions available within your data. In our case, we want to compare between our app and website so will split out our traffic based on the ‘Platform’ dimension.
This comparison allows us to further breakdown our events report based on the conditions we specified. Some events, such as ‘page_view’ or ‘screen_view’, will be specific to either Web or App by their nature. However, some events can be tracked across each platform. Perhaps we are trying to drive users to sign up with an account and we want to see which platforms are contributing most towards this goal.
For this purpose, it is important that comparable events are given the same name on all platforms. We could have also chosen to set up our pageviews and screen views in this way, perhaps using a custom event of ‘content_view’ across all platforms.
Another way we could have investigated this question would be to make use of the Analysis Hub. This allows us to build our own custom report. As with the standard report, we can use ‘event name’ as our rows but we can now include ‘platform’ as our columns to split out the event count.
Aside from comparing the differences, we may also want to see whether users are seen across multiple platforms. This is possible provided that User ID has been implemented and is assigned to your users when, for example, they log in to their account. As with Universal Analytics, you will need to be able to assign a unique identifier to make use of this feature.
If we navigate to the overview report under ‘Tech’ then we can view the overlap between different platforms to compare web and app.
By comparison, the Flood-It! property doesn’t have User ID implemented. Whilst we won’t see any overlap, we are still able to use this report to view our user counts across platforms side-by-side.
As shown with these two set ups, you can use GA4 to compare your user bases and their relative sizes across platforms. When combined with User ID, this gives a fuller picture of the user journey as you see the overlap between those user groups.
In this blog we have explored the reporting options that are available to us within the GA4 interface. I hope that these example use cases will enable you to use your own data to investigate how users interact with your website and with your other platforms.
For all blogs in our GA4 series, please see below: