As we know Google has recently released a new version of Google Analytics – GA4. GA4 is vastly different from the Google Analytics version we’re all used to with major changes to event-driven model and interface. One of the benefits of GA4 is that it made the Analytics Hub/Explore module available to non GA360 users, adding more flexibility around custom reports. However, for non-technical users and those not familiar with the GA4 interface, it is still difficult to get the data that is important for your business and teams (merchandisers, marketers, optimizations analysts, etc.)
Some of the reporting challenges in GA4 include:
- GA4 does not have a Shopping and Checkout funnel report available out of the box. Ecommerce brands have to use the Explore module and configure it based on various events. However, the result may not be as visually appealing and clear to the end-user.
- GA4 has also introduced a new concept to bounce rate now called engagement. Engagement is a much more accurate representation of user behavior than a typical bounce rate (separate subject for another time). However, to find engagement rates may be quite challenging in the new GA4 interface.
- We are all familiar with device category breakdown reports by desktop, mobile and tablet in Google Analytics. However, what if we would like to have a breakdown where we combine desktop and tablet together?
Luckily, Data Studio can help with the challenges above. It can simplify the process by allowing your brand the ability to build custom reports, metrics, and dashboards with more flexibility.
Data Studio Components
There are a few Data Studio components you would need to be familiar with:
- Ability to manage data sources
- Know your available metrics
- Create and manage filters (based on the events that are being passed in GA4)
- Ability to work with blended data
- Know how to apply formulas to calculated fields
Once comfortable with those Data Studio components, a simple and intuitive dashboard can be created to address the challenges from above and make reporting more efficient and effective.
Reusing Dashboards and Reports in Data Studio
But what if you want to use a different GA4 property as a data source, do you have to create a new dashboard from scratch? Not at all. When you connect Data Studio to a new GA4 data source, simply adjust it on charts and blends. Occasionally you may have to reconfigure filters under the resource -> manage filters section in case there are different naming conventions for the events you are passing to GA4. Overall, it’s a straightforward process and doesn’t take much time (unless you have many reports and charts in your dashboard).
There is a data controller widget in Data Studio that allows toggling across multiple GA views as data sources. However, since GA4 doesn’t have views, this functionality is currently unavailable.
Hopefully, Data Studio will introduce an option to have a data controller at the property level for GA4. This will make it easier to reuse dashboards if, for instance, a business has multiple GA4 properties with different data streams.
Data Studio is very powerful and with a little background knowledge, it can be an easy and more intuitive approach for getting data and displaying it in a more familiar and friendly manner. Data Studio canvas, along with configuration settings, is a much more flexible solution to using the Analytics Hub/Explore module in GA4.