While GA4 promises to deliver more robust insights and advanced features compared to its predecessor, it has also introduced a new level of complexity that can leave even seasoned marketers feeling overwhelmed and puzzled. Mastering this intricate tool can be a daunting task, as users must navigate its labyrinthine structure to unlock its full potential. As a result, marketers and analysts may find themselves grappling with the platform’s steep learning curve, struggling to make sense of the wealth of data and configuration options at their fingertips.

This article provides an in-depth overview into the Enhanced Measurement feature. For a more general overview of GA4 and its benefits for marketers, see our recent blog ‘Unlocking the Power of Data: The Move to Google Analytics 4’

Enhanced Measurement is a feature that is unique to GA4. It is a group of automatic event-tracking features that enable more data to be collected from a website without customising the setup as was the case with Universal Analytics.  It has been developed to assist marketers in reporting on as many events as possible without the need to cooperate with developers or using Google Tag Manager. Enhanced Measurement is available for all GA4 data streams and can be set up during configuration.

Which events can be tracked using Enhanced Measurement?

In GA4 data streams, Enhanced Measurement is enabled by default and will automatically track certain events as listed below.  Events can also be disabled or enabled individually, depending on the specific data that is most relevant to the business’s overall goals and objectives.

EventEvent Name
Page viewpage_view
Scrollscroll
Outbound link clickClick (parameter – outbound: true)
Site searchview_search_results
Video engagementvideo_start
video_progress
video_complete
File downloadfile_download
Form interactionform_start
form_submit

A more detailed outline of each of these events is provided below.

Page views

Regular page views cannot be turned off in Enhanced Measurement. For GA4 accounts that have been implemented through Google Tag Manager, there are two ways to track regular pageviews:

  • Using the ‘send a page view event when this configuration loads’ checkbox in the GA4 Configuration tag
  • By manually sending the page_view as an event

GA4 now has the ability to record a page view event if the URL changes without the page reloading, which is commonly seen in single-page websites, or where other UX instances are used (such as html page anchors, accordion opens or navigating to tabs within a page).

For example, if a URL changes from:

website.com to website.com/about (without the page reloading), then the event will be automatically tracked by enhanced measurement.

Scrolls

In GA4, a scroll event is sent when a visitor scrolls below 90% of the page height. Enhanced Measurement will only work if you want to record scrolls below 90% and if you want to record scroll data for any other page depth (30%, 70% etc), this must be done using Google Tag Manager.

Outbound clicks

An outbound click event is sent when a website visitor clicks on a link on the website that directs them to another domain. With this event, an additional parameter is also added named ‘outbound’, with the value “true” to identify this as an outbound link click.

Other parameters that are also sent with this event are as follows:

  • link_classes
  • link_domain
  • link_id
  • link_url

If you have several different website URLs for your business, you can alter tagging settings to configure domains so that all listed domains will not trigger the outbound link click event.

Site search

Site search events are sent to GA4 when a page loads with a URL containing a query parameter, such as q, s, search, query, keyword.

The following parameters can be configured within this event:

  • search_term – This sends details about the search keyword
  • q_[additional-query-parameter] – This can be used to configure more useful parameters in the search URL. For example, if the URL of your search results looks like this:  https://www.website.com/search?key=search+term&page=5, this could be used to track the page

Video engagement

Enhanced Measurement can be used to track video interactions on your website from embedded YouTube videos with the ?enablejsapi=1 parameter in their URL.

Events that are automatically recorded using Enhanced Measurement are as follows:

  • video_start – sends an event when a viewer clicks to starts watching a video
  • video_progress – sends an event when a viewer reaches a particular point in the video (10%, 25%, 50%, 75%).
  • video_complete – triggers an event when the viewer reaches the end of the video

It is important to note the ?enablejsapi=1 parameter in their URL is not always available on websites. Lazy-loaded videos and embedded YouTube videos using privacy-enhanced mode can also cause issues with tracking. Due to these circumstances, automatic video tracking often does not work within enhanced management and it may be easier to track these events using Google Tag Manager.

File downloads

When a linked is clicked with the following file extensions, a file download event is sent: .pdf, .xls, .xlsx, .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .csv, .exe, .key, .pps, .ppt, .pptx, .7z, .pkg, .rar, .gz, .zip, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .wmv, .mid, .midi, .mp3, .wav, .wma.

The following parameters are automatically tracked when the file_download event is triggered:

  • file_extension – the file’s affixed extension e.g. .pdf, .xlsx
  • file_name – the name of the file on the clicked URL e.g. if the URL is website.com/example.pdf, the value of the parameter value will be “example”
  • link_text – the anchor text for the text of the link that was clicked to access the file
  • link_url – the full URL of the file link that was clicked

If you want to track a download that does not have one of the file extensions listed above, it will have to be implemented via Google Tag Manager.

Form interactions

GA4 Enhanced Measurement can be used to track user interactions with forms on the website.

The following parameters are automatically tracked when the form event is triggered:

  • form_id – the HTML id attribute of the form
  • form_name – the HTML name attribute of the form
  • form_destination – the destination URL of the form submission
  • form_submit_text – the text contained on a ‘form submit’ button. Note this parameter can only be used with the form_submit event.

While GA4 can be used to track form interactions, it isn’t collecting reliable data. For example, GA4 Enhanced Measurement cannot be used to track AJAX forms, and it may record an event for an unsuccessful form submission, for example, if a compulsory field was left blank. As such, form tracking solutions within Google Tag Manager may be a more dependable option.

Using Enhanced Measurement in GA4

Enhanced Measurement is a good way to save time when setting up events in GA4. It is extremely effective in tracking file downloads, outbound links, and site search without the need for 3rd party tracking tools such as Google Tag Manager.

However, Google Tag Manager is not yet obsolete and will still be required for tracking a number of more advanced events. We would also recommend using Google Tag Manger as opposed to Enhanced Measurement to track video engagement, as it does not work on many websites, and form interactions as it can be unreliable.

GA4 enhanced measurement offers a range of benefits for businesses and marketers who are looking to gain deeper insights into their website traffic and user behaviour If you need help implementing GA4 or transferring from Universal Analytics to GA4, get in touch with the digital marketing experts at The Lead Agency.  By partnering with us, you can ensure a seamless transition to GA4, take advantage of the powerful features of the platform, and ultimately, drive business growth.

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