What is Google Analytics 4? And How to Set It Up Before It's Too Late

Bruce Klaic Written by | Monday, May 9, 2022

Tags: Digital Strategy Consulting, Google Ads Management Services

What is Google Analytics 4? And How to Set It Up Before It's Too Late

Google Analytics is a platform that many people use to track the performance of their websites and campaigns. They also use it to understand their customers. Until 2020, the platform used by marketers was called Universal Analytics. But it is being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In fact, Universal Analytics will be retired completely by 2023.

Many people who use Universal Analytics have found the transition to GA4 difficult. The interface is less intuitive, and it can be hard to find the reports you need. For this reason, many businesses have yet to embrace GA4.

This article is a guide for marketers who use Universal Analytics. It will provide insights on how Google Analytics 4 differs from Universal Analytics along with the steps on how to begin setting it up.

Why Things Are Changing

Universal Analytics was originally designed to measure desktop device and website interactions. However, this is no longer in step with how people interact with businesses today. There is now a mobile app version of Universal Analytics, but the data is reported in a separate account and set of reports. GA4, on the other hand, unifies website and mobile app data into one view so we can measure user interactions and journeys across devices, websites, and apps as they move towards conversion.

With the advent of omnichannel marketing which aims to provide a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints, from website to social media, email, and app utilization it's critical that there is an analytics solution in place that can track these journeys. GA4 attempts to achieve this in part with its channel, web, and app usage analytics capabilities.

GA4 can track visits from non-Google platforms like Facebook and Instagram while still keeping tabs on metrics such as comments, shares, and so on in the Google Analytics platform. This allows GA4 to track visitors from these channels and help map consumers' journeys across your websites and apps - Something that cannot be accomplished through Universal Analytics.

The GA4 interface should provide more data and information in a single location to help marketers discover insights faster.

Google Analytics 4 has some incredible features that make marketing easier than ever, but it's important to understand the trade-offs before making the switch.

Here are some pros and cons of GA4:


  • Unifies website and mobile app data
  • Can track visits from non-Google platforms
  • Provides more data and information in a single location

  • Interface is less intuitive
  • Reports can be difficult to find
  • Some features are still in development

Overall, GA4 is a powerful platform that can help marketers track user interactions and journeys across devices, websites, and apps. However, the transition from Universal Analytics can be difficult. Marketers should keep this in mind when making the switch.

How to Set Up GA4

If you don't already have Universal Analytics on your site or mobile app, you may sign up for GA4 by going to analytics.google.com and following the installation and code instructions.

For those who are utilizing Universal Analytics, the GA4 setup assistant may be found in the top centre of the Admin area in the bottom left corner of Universal Analytics, which can assist with setting up GA4. Simply hit the setup assistant and, if you have a Universal Analytics tracking code already linked to GA4, Google will suggest that you connect it to your current analytics setup or create a new GA4 and link the two separately.

GA4 will ask you to choose if you want to monitor a website or an app. These are called data streams: you can have one data stream that sends website information into GA4 and other data streams that send information about your iOS or Android mobile app into GA4. Keep track of these so you know which is which. After GA4 is finished, it will give you a unique measurement ID and tracking code for each of your data streams. You can use these to link your site and mobile app.

The Tracking Code

You'll need to add the tracking code to your website and mobile app if you're setting up a new GA4. You can do this by pasting the tracking code into the HTML of your website or adding your GA4 measurement ID in Google Tag Manager, whether you use GTM. The number that corresponds to the measurement ID isn't necessary; rather, you may use any identifier.

When you're installing a mobile app, it's important to install the correct GA4 measurement ID tag on your website and mobile apps. This will help to unify the data in the GA4 interface. You can ask your app developer for help with this process.

Setting Up Audience Signals

After you've got your code up and running, track data and set up audience signals to enable the GA4 audience modelling engine: this will allow you to report on your website even if you don't have cookies. During setup, GA4 will nudge you to turn on audience signals. If you need to alter these settings, go to the Data Collection area of the Admin interface and change them there.

Ecommerce Tracking in GA4

It's critical to verify that your ecommerce website provider, such as Magento, Shopify, and others is compatible with GA4 and include the GA4 tracking code in the appropriate spot in your website settings or analytics plugin.

It's feasible to add your GA4 measurement ID to the plugin for websites that use Woocommerce, but you'll need a second installation of the plugin to track ecommerce transactions from both Universal Analytics and GA4 at the same time, so double-check with your website developer about your own setup before deciding what's best. It's possible that you'll have to ask your website developer to manually add the GA4 ecommerce output to your website. Google has more information here.

Conversion Tracking in GA4

Most events are automatically recorded in GA4 and may be designated as Conversions in the "Configure" section of the left-hand menu. When you click "Events" in "Configure," you'll see a list of all of the events that have been recorded by GA4 automatically. If there's an event you believe is important and should be tracked as a conversion, drag the slider to mark it as such.

If you want to track certain conversions, you can create GA4 events in Google Tag Manager by selecting the GA4 Event tag and entering your names and triggers.

For example, you may put the Event Name in the tag as "new products brochure download," which will cause the event to trigger when people click on the text "Download Now" on the "/new-products" page path.

This implies that each time someone clicks Download Now on your company's new items page, GA4 will register a unique event pertaining to this download.

The goal of this auto event is to give you more information than the auto-tracked events, which may simply say "file download," but won't tell you what that file is about. Tag Manager's tagging and triggers allow you to push data to GA4, increasing conversion tracking detail.

For More information on how to set up Google Analytics 4 you can find support documentation created by google here.

If you are looking for assistance in setting up GA4 our Google Ads Management, Team would be happy to help! Reach out now.

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