Have you been wondering what is changing with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) compared to Universal Analytics (UA)? Well, you are not alone, you little Socrates. There are three fundamental changes that will help show how data will be measured/looked at.
Sessions are getting tracked a bit differently in the new world of GA4. For both UA and GA4 when a page is viewed = new session.
Historically, with UA when you keep a tab open and walk away to make a coffee, get distracted and unload your dishwasher, pat your cat and come back after 30mins = new session.
You close your browser and open another = new session.
The source of session changes, by a purchasing funnel sending you to an external secure pay site (website cart > paypal > website purchase confirmation) and then coming back = a new session.
On a late-night purchasing spree? And jump online at 11.59 pm, and shop until 12.20 am - that crosses a day and will ping…you guessed it = a new session.
This no longer happens, it won't restart your session.
What does this mean for your data? You should expect a drop in sessions when changing over (just note that this should be at most 5-10 % if it is more, then maybe jump in and review performance).
Bounce rate is also getting a shake-up.
Historically, it's been a bit loose. If a user lands on a webpage - fires a session, doesn't interact and leaves? That is considered a bounce.
GA4 looks at this a bit differently. They set down some ground rules;
- 1-page session and,
- Session time is less than 10sec and,
- they did not convert and,
- did not scroll to the bottom of the page (90% or less).
What does this mean for your data? Simple: you should see your bounce rate go down.
UA has a last-click non-direct as the main attribution. This gives 100% of the credit goes to the last channel - a bit of a Natural Born Killers film situation, Oliver Stone gets the credit for Quentin Tarontino's hustle. Potato, potahto.
(Trumpets) enters data-driven as the new default with GA4. This spreads the credit. These amounts vary depending on time delay, etc.
GA4 is going to be a big change up for marketers/businesses, this is especially so for those who are currently only using UA and have not jumped in and played around in GA4. But there are some improvements, what we have gone through above, along with free BigQuery exports, custom reports, better conversion pathway visualisations, etc., and things will continue to be improved. Take your time to get amongst it - don't get left in the dust.