News03/07/2023

4 Key Features Not Yet Integrated in GA4

4 Key Features Not Yet Integrated in GA4

Although in the coming time, GA4 will be the sole choice for many websites, at the current moment, Google Analytics 4 is still in the development process. And some features that you are accustomed to using in the Universal Analytics tool are still not updated in GA4.

View Mode

In Universal Analytics, you can segment data into different subsets to control reports in detail. In Google Analytics 4, there's no view mode, and instead, you will use comparison reports or build discovery reports to manage data.

Some features that use view mode in Universal Analytics but are not present in GA4 include:

  • Each view mode could have its own time zone setting. You could exclude query parameter URL.
  • View mode could exclude traffic from known bots and spiders.
  • You could track site search.
  • Access management and user permissions could be set for each view mode.

Annotations

Annotations are an important feature in Universal Analytics. They allow you to create custom notes to attach to your analytical data. You can assign annotations to specific dates and provide different access levels (e.g. public or private).

Annotations are very useful for recording special events not reflected in the data and explaining changes in the recorded data. For example: sending notification emails, special events like holidays, festivals, positive/negative business advertising... Using annotations will provide important context to data and turn it into valuable information that you can review later.

Annotations appear as small bubble icons at the end of charts in Universal Analytics.
Annotations appear as small bubble icons at the end of charts in Universal Analytics.

Report Presentation

Although Google Analytics 4 has a rich report library and the ability to create detailed discovery reports, sometimes they are either too simple or too complex to set up for many users.

Reports in Universal Analytics have some features that currently do not exist in Google Analytics 4, such as drawing lines on charts, selecting specific targets on charts, or changing data display (by day, week, month).

UA allows report display options UA allows report display options over time
UA allows report display options UA allows report display options over time

Dimensions & Metrics

Dimensions and metrics have been enhanced in Google Analytics 4, as they have been built from the ground up to handle the new event-based structure. As a result, some dimensions and metrics have been missing or changed in GA4 for a while and are gradually being added.

A famous example of this is Bounce Rate, which was removed from GA4 initially and replaced with Engagement Rate. However, it was later added back due to popular demand from analysts and its general utility as a report metric.

Moreover, compared to Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4's Data API lacks some functionalities of UA's Reporting API, such as some standard dimensions and metrics available in the GA4 interface but not in the Data API. This makes creating dashboards and reports via the Data API challenging.

For instance, in Looker Studio, the absence of Goal Completions as a metric means building a conversion table becomes impossible without substantial and deep changes to fields, tables, and even potentially the initial Google Tags in Google Tag Manager. Because conversions are now classified as events, they are constrained by data aggregation rules, limiting how they can be reported.

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