One of the first comments we heard from newsrooms who started setting up a GA4 instance — aside from, “Why, Google … why?!” — was “Where are my reports?”
As with almost everything else in GA4, when compared to Universal Analytics, reports are different. You can’t really map UA reports to GA4, because as we’ve noted, user definitions have changed. Add to the mix that Data Studio has been replaced by Looker Studio. Confused yet?
Once you get the feel for it, you’ll be able to set up ongoing reports AND even pin them to the left-hand dropdown menu under “Reports.” That said, getting to that point will likely be frustrating. And we heard reports of call limits being reached in relatively small newsrooms who are pushing data from GA4 into Looker, which of course pauses data to populate. If you are one of those newsrooms, you’re in luck! Google clearly heard the complaints and fixed the issue. Phew!
To help everyone navigate the new reporting functions, we were joined in April for a Q&A session on Reports in GA4 with Nicole Rocchio, a global news consumer insights lead at Google. Below are three key highlights from the conversation. You can also watch the full conversation here.
Next week, we’ll have a short wrap-up with some examples of how things are going at a couple of newsrooms that have braved the transition ahead of the July 1 deadline.
As always, best of luck. You got this!
Q&A WITH GOOGLE’S NICOLE ROCCHIO
Q: How do UA reports map to GA4?
NR: It’s best to avoid trying to map UA reports to GA4 reports as a 1:1 exercise; there are too many differences in how data is measured. This is the whole reason Google isn’t allowing migration of UA data directly into GA4. Even terms that have the same definition (such as bounce rate) might not necessarily be measured in the same way.
The Pages and Screens tab is quite more closely aligned with what you’re used to in UA. You can use the search function to find a particular page path, and add comparisons across different dimensions.
A lot of the data is … able to be looked at within the Reports without having to create your own report now. I think that sometimes in Universal Analytics, there were a lot of different things you had to do. [GA4] feels a little bit more simplified to me.
Q: How will app data look in GA4 reports?
NR: On the Pages and Screens tab, you can build a filter. Click Platform → Dimension values → Android, iOS or Web.
GA4’s Cross-Device reports can give you even further insight by connecting data across a user’s multiple devices.
Q: Can you categorize your Explore reports into categories or folders like you can with UA?
NR: Yes! Head to Reports → Library. Here’s where you can store all reports you’re working on and group them into collections.
In addition, you can also pin any report you create to the left sidebar for easy access. Note: It’ll only appear on your login, not for others at your company.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Why is there a drop in traffic from UA to GA4?
- GA4 and UA track and attribute sessions differently. GA4 uses a different sessionization algorithm that takes into account cross-device and cross-platform interactions, and it also uses a different session timeout. Read more here.
- GA4 has a different way of handling bot traffic, it uses a machine learning model to identify and filter out bot traffic which may cause lower numbers.
- Is the ability to configure triggers allowed or denied by a user level within GA4?
- Triggers are actually part of GA4, not GTM. That being the case, you can set particular permission levels in GTM just like in GA. This can be done at both the account and the container level. (A container in GTM is more or less equivalent to a property in GA.)
- Is there a way to set up GA4 to see multiple newsrooms together with the ability to segment? We have five newsrooms as part of our journalism school and share some content. We have had a shared Universal Analytics account where we could view the full url, but I’m not sure if there is a best practice for creating a GA4 platform with data from all sites.
- You could set each newsroom up as a separate data stream in the same property and filter them by data stream.