What are views in GA4? Understanding Google Analytics 4 Account Structure compared to Universal Analytics

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Google Analytics 4 (GA4) introduces data streams, which replace the views used in Universal Analytics (UA). Let’s break down the differences.

Universal Analytics (UA) Views vs. GA4 Data Streams:

UA Views:

  1. Definition: Views showed a specific set of data from a property. They allowed you to see particular data sections without altering the main information.
  2. Usage: You could have created multiple views for a single property. For instance, one might have excluded internal visitors, while another focused on a specific area.
  3. Limitations: There was a maximum number of views for each property. Once data was removed from a view, it couldn’t be retrieved. Therefore, it was recommended to have an untouched view as a safety net.

GA4 Data Streams:

  1. Definition: Data streams capture raw data, representing various user touchpoints, like websites or apps.
  2. Usage: Each user interaction, like visiting via a mobile app or website, has a distinct data stream. This provides a full view of user activities across different channels.
  3. Flexibility: Data streams maintain the raw data, even if you add filters.

In short, while UA views were about filtering data, GA4 data streams focus on collecting it. GA4 promotes a holistic, user-focused approach to understanding data.

How to Structure Data in GA4:

  1. Account: This is a collection of properties tied to one owner. If you have data from one area, one account is enough. For data from different regions, use separate accounts.
  2. Property: This sits within an account and represents data from a specific user group, like a product or brand. Group similar user bases into individual properties.
  3. Data Streams: Found within a property, they’re the actual data sources, like your website or app. Each type of user interaction requires its data stream.

Examples of Structuring Data:

  1. Alex’s Bakery:
    • 1 account
    • 1 property for his bakery
    • 1 data stream for his website
  2. Sofia’s Tech Business:
    • 1 account
    • 1 property for her software
    • 3 data streams: software, iOS app, Android app
  3. David’s Magazine:
    • 1 account
    • 2 properties: one for readers, one for advertisers
    • 4 data streams: website, iOS app, Android app, advertiser site
  4. Clara’s Fashion Business:
    • 1 account
    • 3 properties for her brands
    • 15 data streams: 5 for each brand (one per country)

Your GA4 structure will vary based on your business. Typically, you’d have one account for your company, a property for each brand, and data streams for every interaction type.

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