What G4 metrics do you need to pay attention to?

Unless you have been living under a rock and of course you are in marketing then of course you know that Google Analytics has updated to G4.  . While there are many changes that have taken place today we want to discuss what the new metrics are and why you should be paying attention to them. We are strong advocates of data-driven marketing so it’s time we update! We will go through each metric below and explain what it is and why it matters. We will warn that you should look at the date of this article as G4 is rapidly changing and we wouldn’t want you to have outdated information.

Traffic Report

The traffic report is given you where traffic is coming from and getting to your website.  It helps you see which traffic is up or down and we can line them up with marketing activities.  

This report has changed a lot from universal analytics in the number of channels that are now available.  Previously with Universal Analytics, you could define certain channels and with G4 they have added new channels but you cannot alter them at all. 

It’s important that you understand where your traffic is coming from and with the new channels Google has made it easier to be able to see more traffic sources such as Youtube and cross-network.  Previously you were unable to see traffic from Youtube. This report can help us see if our marketing efforts are driving traffic from these channels and how it performs once they get to the website.

Engagement rate

Engagement rate has a host of new metrics that have come with that. This is new for Google given how engaged our audience is. Google defined specifically engagement rate as someone who has spent at least 10 seconds on our website, has a conversion event, or at least has 2 pageviews or screen views.  In some parts of this metric, you are defining yourself as what is counted for engagement rate such as with conversions.  You determine with your Google Analytics setup what is and is not a conversion.  We find this interesting but as usual we want to understand what lies in the gray area.

Google is choosing that 10 seconds and 2 page views or screen views is an engaged session.  We view this as Google seeing as this is an important way for bothEngagement rate G4 them and us to gauge if we have quality traffic.  We can only imagine that this can translate in some fashion or another to better results in Google search engines.  No there has not been any direct mention of this but Google rarely gives us direct ranking factors.

Another item we notice with engagement rate is that if you find the hidden prominent metrics of bounce rate that this number is now mathematically the inverted number.  So if your engagement rate is 40% then the bounce rate is 60%. The bounce rate with Universal analytics was described differently and was counted if someone got to a page and scrolled down the page and clicked on nothing.  So the whole meaning of bounce rate has now changed.

Often our clients want to know what a healthy metric is because this metric is new and bounce rate has essentially changed what it means there are no longer baselines to assume.  It’s always good though to evaluate your metrics based on your own data. 

As marketers, we need to gauge engagement rates based on the traffic source.  If for instance, you have direct traffic that has a low engagement rate perhaps that is okay because direct traffic is an unknown referral source.  We can make deductions about it being bot traffic. So while this number needs to be broken down by types of marketing channels another metric that is new would give you what is going on with individual pages.


This is kind of a new metric for us.  We could get the metrics before but we had to set up all kinds of coding inside of Google tag manager to track which caused all kinds of issues with the bounce rate! So this is great that it is now coming in. You do need to ensure you have clicked this to be on in your settings. What this is measuring is that someone has scrolled at least 90% of the page.  This metric is very subjective to each individual page, perhaps your CTA is that the top of the page so you are okay that someone has not scrolled 90% of the page if they have clicked on the CTA.  This just once again shows us how interested Google is in knowing how involved someone is with content and perhaps can correlate to ranking in search engines.

Active users

Active users is a new metric that tells how many of our users are engaged. This is different from than engagement rate since that metric is based on sessions.  You could have used multiple sessions but only one user in a time frame.  This report breaks down what is the drop-off time of a user after 7 days, 14 days, and so on.  This would allow us to see if we are keeping using to coming back to the website or if are they one and one.  This might help us make decisions about whether we need to instill better content or if we need to engage with remarketing tactics. 


This is an old metric renamed from pageviews. In universal analytics, this measured the number of pages viewed which included repeated views. It is still counted the same in G4 but the change is that we can no longer see unique views.  So we lost the ability to understand if it was unique.  We view this (see what we did there) as Google’s understanding that a view is a view and it being unique is not something that brings additional value.


Conversions Attribution G4We would be crazy if we didn’t mention that we are looking at conversions.  A lot has changed with conversions, from how you set them up and what is and is not trackable.  Ultimately though we have to track did our users do the desired action of the website (conversion).  Google has also changed how it assigns who gets credit for conversions.  While we were not fans of the previous method of giving credit to the last click or the last thing you did to get 100% credit for the conversion, the new method creates confusion.  Google is now using machine learning with a host of factors to determines what gets credit, the waters are fairly muddy here.  There are many reasons why they can’t give all the information so we have to be okay as marketers with what is given but understand it’s not perfect.  It’s important to look for trends of what is going up or down and focus our efforts there.  We have always felt that all marketing works together so giving one channel or another full credit is a flawed way of looking at it. 

If you really are a data geek and want to know why this is happening it’s for several reasons.  Certain platforms have started to block the ability to be able to know the source of traffic such as Apple’s new app tracking policy.  There are also a lot of missing data browsers not being able to track the conversion that took place due to time limitations that the browsers can actually track.  These are just a couple and many more reasons why the information is not available. 

The Other Metrics

There are many other metrics we might also track depending on what your goals are with your marketing.  So while these metrics above are good baseline metrics that we think everyone should be tracking.  Everyone should have their own metrics that are unique to them and the problems they are trying to solve with marketing. If you know anything about us we really truly good go on and on about this topic but we might bore you.  Let us take care of it for you!

About the Author

Jennifer Denney

Jennifer Denney has been in digital marketing since 2006 and has seen a wealth of changing landscape in digital marketing. She has seen the rise and fall of many marketing tactics.  She is deeply rooted in understanding the metrics that showcase the value of certain types of digital marketing. She produces weekly live shows with Lorraine Ball, solocast with Elevated Marketing Chats, and conducts a weekly podcast called Elevated Marketing Dot Podcast.