Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Standard Reports Overview

In this video I run through the standard reports available out of the box in Google Analytics 4, including:

  • Realtime reports
  • Acquisition reports
  • Engagement reports
  • Monetisation reports
  • Retention reports
  • Demographic reports
  • Tech reports

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In today’s video we’re going to have a look at Google analytics 4 standard reporting interface.

To start with let’s have a look at Universal analytics versus ga4 and how the reporting interfaces differ.

On the left you’ll see Universal analytics 4 and on the right we have ga4. Now, straight off the bat they probably look very similar but as we dig into the reports you’ll start to see the differences. Both of them have this home screen which is just an overview of what’s happening in some real-time reporting but then we can dig deeper into the reports section.

In Universal analytics we have reports sorted by real-time audience acquisition behavior and conversions and in GA4 we need to click into the reports tab and then we’ll see lifecycle reports sorted by acquisition engagement monetisation and retention somewhat modeled on marketing lifecycle flow. Then we’ve got our user reports which is demographic and tech reports.

Now you’ll notice when I expand each of these there’s basically only three to four reports in each section, if we have a look at Universal Analytics the age-old problem was that basically there were too many reports and you have multiple levels of reports and people would just jump in here and get so confused and scared and not know where anything was. That had just become a nightmare to find exactly what they were looking for so we can see there’s dozens and dozens of reports under each tab whereas GA4 standard reports are quite basic and limited, but the idea is that you create your own ports either by customising these or creating Explorations or even look at Studio reports.

Let’s go through the reporting interface and go through the standard reports one by one. When you first log into GA4 you’ll get the snapshots overview which is basically a series of tabs that Google thinks are probably the most important things that are happening on your website at the moment. It’s an overview of reports that you can find deeper within the reporting structure and you’ll also see some insights type of reports here which are AI based or AI generated. So, you can see some kind of insights that are happening, user spikes, sources changing, and all these kind of insights that may or may not be useful.

The next report is the real-time report now you might be familiar with the real-time report from Universal analytics. The main change is that the real-time report in GA4 for 30 minutes whereas the real-time report in Universal analytics only covered the last five minutes. We also get this nice graphical upgrade we’ve got the interface an overlay like a geographical map overlay so you can see where traffic is coming from and blue blipping in real time. Then we can see it broken down by user source audiences and content and conversions. Now you can change some of these reports you see little arrows where the dimensions are changeable but you are still quite limited in what’s presented.

One thing that’s kind of cool maybe a little bit creepy that’s new in the real-time reports in ga4 is something called view user snapshot. Now what this is is the actual activity of an individual on your website right now. So I’ve got someone from Bangalore in India and they’re browsing around the website quite a lot they’ve looked at 23 pages they’re viewed their cart seven times they’ve added four items to their cart they’ve viewed the cart seven times and they’ve actually removed an item for the cart.  If we click here we can see an actual timeline of how they’ve progressed through the website as well. So in this session I can only go as far back as half an hour they’ve added to a cart they’ve viewed their cart they’ve viewed some more items they’ve viewed their card again, they’re looking at promotions scrolling through the website adding to cart again, viewing more items. Now if this was your website and you’re an e-commerce store hopefully you’d see this person checking out finalising that purchase. So that’s something new and quite interesting if you’ve got the time you might be able to eke out some interesting insights by looking through individual users, but I suspect that there’s probably a lot more work involved in that than will actually lead to any meaningful insights, but still kind of cool especially if you start seeing things in here that you weren’t expecting. If you’ve got any kind of error event checking or things like that that may be interesting.

The next series of report to the life cycle reports and they each follow a very similar structure or you have an overview report and then some detailed reports so let’s start with acquisition and have a look at the acquisition overview report. Now we’re looking at data from the Google merchandise store account. It’s real time and live and this is the store that the data is coming from so it’s their actual merchandise store and they give us access to this account for learning and education. So we can see all the data is coming from that website and we can see on the acquisition overview, users versus new users, users in the last 30 minutes, and the top countries. The default channel grouping which we can change to source platform, source medium, campaign, whatever you like and sessions versus engaged sessions. So you can see it’s pretty high level it’s not really that deep and meaningful but it’s just an overview.

The next two reports in the acquisition section are the user acquisition first user and traffic acquisition. So basically what the difference is this user acquisition report shows only data whereas the user is a first-time user to the website and how they got there. So this is first-time visitors to the website and what are their means of getting to the website. So the default Channel grouping is Google’s categorisation. You can change this to source/medium if you prefer which is something you might be more familiar with. So we can see here the top driving source and medium for the Google merchandise store is Google itself organic search traffic. In here we see a breakdown of new users, engaged sessions, event count, conversions, and even revenue. So we can see that even though organic is driving a lot of new users and engaged sessions it’s stroke it’s driven fifty five thousand dollars in revenue, whereas direct as driven 144k.

Now in each of these reports it’s important to know that you can change date ranges, so let’s look at the last 30 days of data for example. You can compare date ranges so month over month, year over year, and you can also compare different segments of traffic. We can build a comparison here. Let’s say we want to compare how different countries perform. So let’s include a dimension country and let’s look at United States and let’s apply that to the report. Now we’ll be able to see how new users from the United States compare to users from all countries. Now you’ll see the table is broken down so we can see all new users, there’s twenty thousand and seven thousand six hundred and fifty seven of them came from the United States now we can build upon that as well. Let’s add the second highest country which is in this case India and apply that to the report and to simplify it let’s take out all users and just compare United States versus India. So we can see the blue line is United States the orange line is India and we can see that there’s a lot more traffic coming from the United States and it’s a lot more volatile. What might be also interesting to see is how those countries compare in terms of revenue. Let’s have a look at the organic traffic how organic compares the United States. Organic traffic from Google Search has driven 7,657 new users whereas India we have 4,001. However, let’s have a look at the differences in revenue. Those seven thousand six hundred fifty seven users from United States resulted in fifty four thousand dollars almost fifty five thousand dollars in revenue, whereas the 4,000 new users from India drove 172 dollars in revenue. Now there may be different reasons for that, maybe more people from India are using the merchandise store in terms of education because they do provide this demo analytics account, or perhaps it’s just that United States is is more likely to buy Google merchandise.

Now it’s important to know that unless we clear these comparison segments they will stay there for each report that we go to.

So let’s continue to all traffic acquisition not just new users and you’ll see that again we’ve loaded in those two segments. Let’s get rid of those and then it’ll default back to all users so again, similar data is presented in a table. We can add a secondary dimension so we can have a look at perhaps organic search and country. This way you can see here the top two the top channels are coming through there.

Another secondary dimension you might find it interesting is something like device. Imagine we just wanted to filter for organic traffic we can actually just type that in here, and now we can see for organic search, organic social, organic video. If we wanted to further refine that we can type in organic search. Here we can see that we have now just organic search in this table and our device categories. So now we can have a look at how traffic from organic search performs depending on which device they’re using, and in this case desktop is driving the highest amount of revenue.

Next up are the engagement reports. Now this is how people are interacting with your website or your app. Again we see engagement overview we can see engagement time, engaged sessions per user, and average engagement time. We can see total views and event count and we see our top events and our top views. This will show us the top events tracked on our website, and if you recall everything a user can do in GA4 is tracked. In this event you can see in the case of the Google merchandise store the top event appears to be view promotion. Now I think the reason for that is they have this scrolling carousel of promotions on the home page and perhaps it’s triggering an event each time that goes through. Next view item list, and page views, user engagement, page scrolls, viewed items, session starts etc. etc.

The next report is conversions, so again the conversions are the events that we’ve marked as being most important for our website, and in this case the top performing conversions for the Google merchandise store are predicted top spenders, first visits, add payment info, begin checkout, and purchase. Being an e-commerce store things like beginning checkout, adding to cart, adding payment, and purchasing are very critically important to monitor.

The next report is pages and screens. So what are the most viewed pages or screens? If you’re in an app now because of the way this report works it can be difficult to review, the reason for that is because it uses page titles as the dimension. Now, not every website uses page title as well, so you can change this to page path and screen class. Page path is probably the one you want to use if you’re looking for the URL and you’re more familiar with Universal Analytics. It’ll show you the actual URL there on the website. So, as usual the forward slash is your home page, and then you can see the URL of each page.

The next reporting section is monetisation and this is primarily for e-commerce websites and websites that sell ad space. Now because the Google merchandise store is an e-commerce site we can see data in the monetisation overview report. We’ve got total revenue, e-commerce revenue. The only way this website is driving revenue is from e-commerce, and then we can see things like top products and average revenue per user. We can see total purchases versus first time purchases, and then if we dig into the e-commerce purchases report, this is a more in-depth e-commerce report. We can filter by item name, item category, item brand, Item ID, and we can see how each is performing. So we can see the new items are performing best, followed by men’s unisex sale. We can see revenue for each, total number of purchases for each. So these reports are quite useful for e-commerce stores.

The retention reports show new versus returning users. There is some debate on how accurate and useful these are, with issues around cookies and certain browsers and apps not allowing for reliable tracking. But it’s there and if it’s useful to you then great.

The last two reports are breakdowns of our user demographics and technology. So we can see the demographics overview geography a deeper dive into users. You can do new users versus returning users, breakdown by gender, their interests, their ages and languages. If we go into demographic details report we’ll get that familiar graph and table layout where we can start manipulating the data to see exactly what we want to see. So we can start getting a breakdown of potentially age, plus gender, and then we can see if we want to do some very targeted advertising buys. We could probably sort this by total revenue, so we can see for the last 30 days female users aged 18 to 24 have resulted in the highest total revenue.

Lastly, in the standard reports overview are the tech reports. This is the technology people are using to access the site. Now this first report here uses by platform, you can see it’s 100 web, and the reason for that is the Google merchandise store is 100 web-based, it’s not an app. Whereas if you’re in a Google analytics 4 account that has both web and app data streams you’ll see the breakdown of users by platform across your platforms that you are tracking. Again, we go into the tech details and we’ll get the chart and table based data that we can manipulate, and then we can see a breakdown of revenue by browser, by OS, by device model, by device category.

So these are the top level reports that are available in Google Analytics 4 standard reporting. Now again I want to make it absolutely clear that these are very top level reports, especially in comparison to some of the deeper dive reports that you could get in Universal Analytics, but the whole idea with GA4 is that you create your own reports based on what’s important to you. There’s basically three ways to do that. The first way you can customise this report is by editing them, effectively make a copy of them and change what is included, you can change the graphs at the top, you can add filters, and you can save them into this menu list. So you can have a report customised the way you want it and saved in here. The second way is by using exploration reports, which we’ll look at in the next video. And the third way is by exporting your data into looker Studio, where you can create 100s of custom reports from multiple data sources such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics or pretty much any other data source you can think, of even static Google Sheets.

if you have any questions or comments about this video feel free to ask.

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