How Does GA4 Collect Data?

How To Collect The Data In Ga4

Beginning in July 2023, Google Analytics will fully shift from its UA version to GA4. So, how does GA4 acquire information? Many of us may be curious. If we ask this, we should also be aware that data from Google Analytics may differ from data from a store’s backend or even from data from other platforms. What’s the deal with that? Simply put, each platform has its own data collection and processing processes. As a result, the data seen across platforms varies.

Before delving into how GA4 collects data, it’s important to understand the differences between UA and GA4.

Data Collection Differences Between UA and GA4

There are some significant variations in the data collection methods used by Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4):

Data Model: UA collects information on page views, sessions, and related metrics using a session-based data schema. GA4, on the other hand, follows an event-driven model. Every user activity, such as page views and button clicks, is categorized as an event. This provides a more in-depth and detailed insight into user behavior.

Event Collection and Naming: Custom configurations are often required in UA for event tracking, which breaks them down into categories, actions, and labels. GA4 automatically collects a lot of typical events (like page visits and scrolling). GA4 does not impose a predefined event format, allowing for broader naming and collection flexibility.

User Attributes and Parameters: UA contains a predefined set of data points (such as age, gender, and location). GA4, on the other hand, allows you to collect more user attributes and event data for a more in-depth understanding of user behavior and characteristics.

Cross-device and platform tracking: UA was mostly concerned with the web. GA4, on the other hand, is intended to track user behavior across platforms, including both online and mobile apps.

Privacy: GA4 can function in the absence of cookies or other user identifiers. GA4 uses Google’s machine learning to create intelligent predictions in the absence of these identifiers, filling any data gaps.

These modifications make GA4 a more complete and scientific instrument that is in sync with current technological and policy requirements. As a result, Google Analytics has switched from UA to GA4.

How GA4 Identifies Users

We can see how users are identified in GA4’s ADMIN-Reporting Identity:

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User ID: This Google Analytics tool allows you to track individual user behavior. GA4 can track a user’s behavior across devices and sessions by issuing each logged-in user a unique, persistent ID. For example, if a user browses your site on a PC and then on a mobile phone, the user ID helps identify both actions as belonging to the same user.

Google Signals: This enables cross-device reporting, detailed ad reports, and insights from display and search ads. Google Signals provides a holistic view of user actions across several devices by enabling more extensive data collection and leveraging Google’s user data.

Device ID: When a user ID is not available, this unique identifier distinguishes user devices and aids in user tracking. For example, if a user visits your site on a mobile device without logging in, Google Analytics records their behavior using a device ID. However, it is not as powerful as User ID because it does not track people between devices.

“Modeling” is another term we come across. GA4 makes use of Google’s strong machine learning algorithms for data modeling. For example, if some user data cannot be obtained owing to privacy concerns or user opt-outs, GA4 fills the gaps with modeled data. This modeling takes into account various user habits, interactions, and large amounts of data from Google.

GA4 creates models based on historical data, projecting prospective future actions such as who is more likely to make a purchase. This knowledge is priceless for marketers who want to target potential customers more precisely.

If a website lacks sufficient data, “modeling” may be presented as unavailable.

Do we understand how GA4 data is collected now that we understand User ID, Google Signals, Device ID, and Modeling—the four core terms of GA4 data collection and processing? GA4 prioritizes user ID for data gathering, using Google Signals when user ID is unavailable, and device ID when neither is available. Furthermore, utilizing its modeling technique, GA4 refines and supplements the data.

Ensuring Comprehensive Data Collection in GA4

GA4 values user privacy and data security deeply. To ensure complete data collection, check the GA4 settings and make sure the data collection consent form is signed. Otherwise, GA4 may not collect sufficient data. You can confirm this by going to ADMIN-Data Settings-Data Collection.

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It is critical to enable Google signals data collection, granular location and device data collection, and advanced settings to allow for ad personalization. In addition, the User Data Collection Acknowledgement must be signed. Only after these four configurations have been configured can GA4 begin full data collection.

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