Are you ready for the new era of analytics? Here’s how to make the most of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the new generation of Google reporting.

GA4 has dramatically changed the way we measure metrics and KPIs. It will certainly take some time to get used to it. The overhaul may seem daunting. After all, it comes with a lot of changes. But a healthy first step is to learn more about this update. Here’s how to get GA4 up and running quickly and seamlessly.


Simply put, GA4 is the next generation of Google Analytics. It presents a new way to collect and analyze data, with brand-new features alongside some of the UA features we’re used to. This is more than just a style or user interface change. The way GA4  operates is fundamentally different from UA, so you can expect a pretty intense learning curve.

The main difference is that GA4 is built around the concept of “events,” compared to the familiar idea of sessions and pageviews in UA. And it tracks data across devices and platforms. So you’ll have a better understanding of the customer journey and the way your marketing tactics complement each other. An “event” could be a pageview, a click, or even a custom parameter you’ve chosen yourself. 

Four key takeaways to know about GA4:

  • You’ll be able to collect a lot more data than on UA. This data collection can be more specific than it was on the previous platform.
  • You can gather more data and insights into visitors on your website and what they did on your page. (Such as when, where, and how they converted.)
  • GA4 is designed to comply with user consent and privacy requirements. Website owners and app developers can customize the tracking behavior to align with privacy regulations – this is essential if you’re marketing in different countries with varying privacy laws.
  • You can use GA4 to track nearly any user activity across multiple devices and platforms (website, app, etc).


Having had a decade with UA, GA4’s new features will change the way we interpret and understand tracking data. Here are a few of the main changes.


Third-party cookies are no more. GA4 is using first-party cookies to comply with data/tracking laws (like GDPR in Europe). So the way it uses and compiles the data is different.

For example, let’s say a user logs in to a site from their phone before work, logs in later at the office, then from their personal computer at home that evening. UA would have counted those as three individual sessions. But in reality, it’s just one long session from one user. GA4 and first-party cookies can track that as one single session if the User ID is set up at login, giving much more in-depth user journey data for individual users.

What’s more, GA4 uses machine learning to analyze current user data and predict future behavior of users. With the cookie changes and use of machine learning, you can expect much more in-depth information about the user journey – for both past and future behaviors.

This is a powerful feature for domestic and international campaigns. It allows for nuances in user behavior and the customer journey in each target locale.


While UA used to group data into session-based models, GA4 stores user data as events. Everything a user does while on your website will be recorded as an event in GA4. Some events will be automatically collected, some recommended, and you’re able to choose and allocate custom events. 

For example, when you set up your “stream” for your website, you can enable “enhanced measurement,” which allows GA4 to automatically begin measuring certain events like page views, scrolls, clicks, video engagement, site search, etc. Beyond the list of “standard” events, you can set up a custom event for essentially anything you want to track, just like you could in UA.

So if you want to track a specific metric, you’ll need to set up a report in GA4 for that particular event. This also means you can be as specific as you want in terms of the data you want to track. And most importantly, you can choose the key events for your business in each of your target locales – and track them on an ongoing basis.


It’s important to keep in mind that sessions and users are calculated differently in GA4, so you can expect discrepancies in the total numbers. For example, in GA4 single sessions are recorded across multiple devices, rather than new sessions for each device.

GA4 defines a session as a number of events recorded for a user in a given time period. The session counts for GA4 could include time on a page, scrolling, and clicks. By estimating the number of unique session IDs from users on your website or app, GA4 estimates the total number of sessions.

Because sessions are recorded across multiple devices and apps, you’ll have a more complete report of your customer journey. And you’ll also know how your marketing strategies are performing – and how multi-platform tactics are working together.

For example, if you’re marketing in Germany, you’ll be able to see whether your TikTok account is bringing in more traffic or if it’s a local platform like XING. With this data, you can then assess where to further reinvest your global marketing efforts.

Likewise, you can test which channels are working best for paid media campaigns. For example, you’ll be able to tell whether your clients are coming from Google or LinkedIn ads. Once again, offering direction on where to maximize your paid marketing.

Although this isn’t an entirely new feature to GA4, analyzing your sessions is a great way to monitor your international traffic and help make strategic business decisions.


Average session duration and bounce rate look different in GA4. They are no longer displayed by default. Instead, they’ve been bundled into engaged sessions, average engagement time per session, and engagement rate.

You can calculate a bounce rate equivalent by calculating the percentage of sessions that were not considered to be “engaged.” It’s essentially the inverse of the engagement rate. For example, if a user visited one single page and spent less than 10 seconds on there, or if they didn’t convert.


In Universal Analytics, conversions were triggered when a user completed a goal on your website. But in GA4 there are no goals. So you’ll need to customize conversions around specific events that are turned into conversions.

You’ll also need to customize your reports to a much higher degree than in UA. This allows you to be as specific as you want in your custom reports, which is great news for companies running both domestic and international digital marketing campaigns.

Conversions are also calculated differently. GA4 counts every instance of the conversion as an event, even if the same conversion event is recorded multiple times during the same session. So if a user submits a form twice during the same session, they’ll count as two conversions.


Like UA, GA4’s functionality largely depends on whether you’re able to cookie your visitors’ devices.

With regulations like the GDPR in the EU, as well as the widespread use of ad blockers (43% of global web users use them), your ability to measure activity of users not logged into Google services may be limited in some markets. And if a user has tracking enabled on one device (like their phone) but not another (computer browser), you may lose some of GA4’s full-funnel visibility. 

So, depending on what your high-priority conversions are, you may need to come up with other ways to measure your success for those specific actions.

For GDPR compliance, Google has done a lot with GA4 to increase user privacy. New features include IP anonymization by default and shortened data storage duration. (14 months in GA4 vs 64 months in UA. However, you can get around this through data warehousing.) 

But GA4 still isn’t fully GDPR compliant. And if you allow for data sharing between Google properties, you’ll still need to get explicit consent from EU residents to use cookies. (Here’s more information about GDPR considerations for GA4.)


If you answered no, don’t fret. It’s important to set up GA4 in a way that ensures traffic, metrics, and conversions are all set up and working properly. 

For your brand, this means working out which KPIs, metrics, and conversion actions most accurately display your website performance and provide insights for your global marketing strategy.


These features are just a small part of the larger overhaul Google has implemented for GA4. GA4 shapes the way we capture, observe, calculate, and report on data going forward.

Big changes like this can be a bit of a roadblock. But ultimately we’ll be able to understand the user journey in each target locale much more accurately – leading to insights that will help brands become more effective at engaging and converting global audiences. 

For more details on GA4, or to get help with setting up GA4 to best support your global tracking goals, get in touch. Our GA4-certified experts are happy to help.