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Understanding Data Streams in Google Analytics 4

Data AnalyticsData Science

With the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google has revamped its analytics platform to adapt to the changing needs of modern businesses. One of the most significant changes in GA4 is the introduction of Data Streams. In this article, we are going to discuss what data streams are and where they fit in Google’s revamped analytics platform Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Stick around to learn more and understand what data streams are so you are able to optimise your accounts.

What are Data Streams?

Now what are Data streams? In GA4, Data Streams serve as a fundamental unit for data collection. They are individual channels that allow you to collect data from different sources, such as websites, apps, or even offline data. Each Data Stream is linked to a specific property and corresponds to a unique tracking ID. Unlike the previous Universal Analytics (UA) version, which required separate properties for websites and apps, GA4 allows you to gather data from multiple platforms under a single property through the use of Data Streams. This comprehensive data collection offers a holistic view of user behaviour across your digital ecosystem. This holistic approach enables you to identify cross-platform trends and patterns, leading to more informed marketing and business strategies.

In your GA4 account, you can find data streams under: Account>Property>Data Streams:

Types of Data Streams you can utilise

Web Data Stream:

The Web Data Stream allows you to track and analyse user interactions on your website. By implementing the GA4 tracking code on your website, you can collect valuable data on user behaviour, including pageviews, clicks, events, and more. This data is crucial for understanding user engagement and optimising your web presence for better performance.

App Data Stream:

For businesses with mobile apps, this App Data Stream is essential. By integrating the GA4 SDK into your mobile app, you can track user activities, screen views, in-app purchases, and other events. This data provides insights into how users interact with your app and helps identify areas for improvement to enhance user experience.

Measurement Protocol Data Stream:

The Measurement Protocol Data Stream is designed to collect data from offline sources or devices not directly supported by the Web or App Data Streams. Through the Measurement Protocol, you can send data directly to GA4 servers, making it a versatile option for tracking various types of data, such as point-of-sale transactions, CRM data, or IoT devices.

Enhanced Measurement in Data Streams

One of the great offerings that come with data streams are the automatically setup feature Enhanced Measurements for web data streams. Google has preselected some common and key actions users take when interacting with your website and begun to track it automatically. This is extremely useful as you can start to get analytics without even setting it up!

When enhanced measurement is active it will automatically track these events:

Pageviews

Pageview tracking is an essential event that allows you to see which pages on your website users are visiting. With Enhanced Measurement, GA4 automatically tracks pageviews without any additional setup, providing you with insights into the most popular pages and user navigation patterns.

Scrolls

Enhanced Measurement tracks user scrolling behaviour on your website. It helps you understand how far users scroll down a page, which is valuable for assessing user engagement and identifying potential content visibility issues.

Outbound Clicks

Outbound click tracking allows you to monitor when users click on links that lead them away from your website. It is useful for understanding which external links are attracting user attention and can be particularly valuable for tracking affiliate or referral traffic.

Site Search

If your website has an internal search functionality, Enhanced Measurement automatically tracks site search interactions. This feature provides insights into what users are searching for on your website, helping you understand their intent and refine your content or products accordingly.

Video Engagement

For websites that embed videos, Enhanced Measurement can track video interactions, such as play, pause, and completion. Understanding how users engage with your videos can assist in optimising video content and identifying which videos resonate most with your audience.

File Downloads

When users download files from your website, Enhanced Measurement can track these events. It helps you monitor which resources are being downloaded the most and assess the popularity of different file types.

In-Page Engagements

Enhanced Measurement can detect certain user interactions within a page, such as clicks on buttons, form submissions, or other interactive elements. These engagements provide valuable data to analyse user behaviour and optimise your website’s user experience.

By tracking these user interactions on both websites and apps, GA4’s Data Streams offer a deeper understanding of user preferences, behaviour, and the customer journey. This insight is invaluable for optimising your digital assets and creating personalised experiences for your audience.

Cross Domain Tracking with Data Streams:

Cross-domain tracking in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is another valuable feature that you can configure in your data streams that allows you to track user interactions and behaviour as they navigate between different domains or websites within a single property. This functionality helps you gain a holistic view of user journeys and interactions across your online ecosystem.

To set up cross domain tracking, go to: Admin> Property> Data Streams>Web Stream Details:

Click on “Configure tag settings”:

From here you are able to add any additional domains:

By learning and embracing the innovations presented by Google Analytics 4, it can lead your analytics to a brighter data landscape. Data streams is a major stone-piece in the post – Universal Analytics era that you should begin to familiarise yourself with in order to fully optimise your GA4 accounts.
If you find yourself unsure about embarking on this transformative path, reach out to us. We’re here to provide the support you need!

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