Updated: Oct 13, 2021
This is my second article about next generation Google Analytics 4. In my previous article I had talked about the differences between the old and the new Google Analytics platforms especially around technical implementation and data models. Please refer to this article before starting transition to the new platform.This article assumes that you already transitioned to the new Google Analytics 4 platform. New interface and reports are very different than the old one.
I have been using Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics since 2007 and since then I have always preferred working with Adobe Analytics and have always recommended Adobe over Google for a reason. Some of the issues with Universal Analytics has been fixed in Google Analytics 4. It is still not as quite good as Adobe Analytics but this version is full of promises.
Below you can see old interface report menu versus new interface menu on the right. As you can see they are quite different. Left one Universal Analytics. For instance when you click Audience , you end up with lots of ready reports under the menu. Google Analytics removes this mess. You don't have Google-prepared Audience reports. You have to go to the Audience and do the work and create the Audience. Same for many old Google ready reports.
One big difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics is around customization and ready reports that has been set by Google Analytics.
Universal Analytics made things simpler than its reality especially if we think what analytics is but people jumped on it. So many people assumed that analytics was to pull Google Analytics reports . A software that should have been named as "Google Digital Reports" was named as "Google Analytics" , and because of its popularity analytics was assumed same thing with the reporting. Why this is so crucial? Because if you are new to data world and if you are not satisfied with your return with your analytics initiative in your company, it is probably you assume reporting as analytics. I had explained the difference between report, analysis and analytics. You can read my article here.
Having said that Universal Analytics is still very good for a free analytics software. Google gave a chance for many organizations including small businesses to get information about their digital assets. And now Google is doing a great job updating its platform to get away from already set reports to more customized analysis methods. Something Adobe Analytics has been doing for so many years. People always argued that Google Analytics is so much better because it is user friendly , simpler and usually that meant "I am too lazy to do detailed investigative analysis, just give me something ready". Thanks to Google proving my point with its new platform. Most of the set reports will not be very detailed so you would have to go to Explore and create everything custom. In Google Analytics 4 default reports do not even have Secondary Dimension like you have in Universal Analytics. SO you need to go to Explore to do detailed analysis.
But Google keeps something for those who has no ability to ask questions or just new to this. It has a section called Analytics Intelligence where you can get some inspirations. Of course this is hardly Analytics Intelligence or AI. They are just shortcuts to the reports. But very good beginning for newbies or when you lost your inspiration.
Why insisting on customization? It forces you to think! You end up thinking about your business, industry and metrics/dimensions available to you. You get more ideas! You get more details, it forces your brain and makes you more intelligent. At the end insight starts with asking right questions, curiosity and investigative approach. Insight is what is left after we eliminate all the unnecessary data.
In Universal Analytics custom definition configurations are hidden, under Admin, property but in Google Analytics 4 it is on the left, right there, so you can use it often
A particular Google Analytics 4 report interface will have
Comparison (new name for Segments)
Other custom items under particular report (like Attribution type under Acquisition Reports)
Google Analytics 4 has 6 main sections.
Old Google Analytics platform sections are quite different.
As you can see new GA4 did not just change the names, but it also changed how reports are categorized or accessed.
In the reports there are some new metrics that we need to learn. Google's ready reports come with some new metrics and they are defined by Google. You need to learn its definition before moving forward.
For instance under Acquisition reports we have
Engaged sessions: The number of sessions that lasted 10 seconds or longer, or had 1 or more conversion events or 2 or more page views.
Is this definition of engagement makes sense for your business. Google gives us standard metrics and reports and also gives us tools to customize these reports.
Google Analytics 4 calculates sessions differently. Review this article to learn more about Google Analytics 4 Sessions.
If you want to get most out of your Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics implementation you can contact me on Linkedin for consulting or training. I both provide implementation services and business analysis and training services. I have 14 years experience to implement and use Adobe Analytics and digital analytics with big brands like Expedia, American Airlines, Best Western International, ING Bank, Vodafone, Buhler Group. Unfortunately many Adobe Analytics experts out there only tool analysts, they do not have significant product development experience. I have been developing digital products since 1999. Adobe Analytics has become my biggest support for an insight and that's why I learned it very well. I am certified Adobe Analytics architect.
You can also view my company website:
My other passion is food, visit my site to see all my recipes:)