Google Analytics Comparisons 4 – How to use it? – News Couple
ANALYTICS

Google Analytics Comparisons 4 – How to use it?


In two of my previous blog posts, I explained how to use clips and audiences. Now, let’s look at a third option that you can use for your analysis, Google Analytics Comparisons 4. What are they and when should they be used?

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educational video

If you prefer video, take a look at this tutorial from my Youtube channel.

What are the comparisons in GA4?

Comparisons (as the name implies) allow you to quickly compare different subsets of data in standard reports. They might remind you a bit of the advanced slides in Universal Analytics (GA3) but there are some key differences which I’ll explain later.

An example of the end result might look like this.

Note: I’ve heard/seen some people refer to comparisons as “advanced segments” but to me, that doesn’t make sense. What you’ll learn in this blog post is that comparisons (compared to GA4’s regular masses and slides) are the least powerful features, so not advanced.

How to create comparisons in Google Analytics 4?

To create a new comparison, go to any standard Google Analytics 4 report, for example, Reports > Snapshot reports.

Then in the top left corner of the report, click Add comparison. Another option is to click the icon Edit comparisons.

A new sidebar will slide out from the right side. Here you can add multiple terms and comparisons.

  • You can decide whether to exclude or include data based on certain criteria
  • You can specify the dimension
  • and select the required values

Comparison in Google Analytics 4

For example, if you want to compare the performance of mobile traffic versus desktop traffic, do so. Create the first comparison where:

  • includes device class
  • Dimension values: mobile
  • click Application

This will create a new comparison to the report and add it automatically. You will see it in the upper left corner of the report. In my case, the comparison title was clipped. If you want to see it in its entirety, hover over the comparison label.

Then remove the default All users option (by clicking the X on its label).

If you remove all comparisons, GA4 defaults to All users.

click Add comparison again (to add desktop traffic). Do the following:

  • includes device class
  • Dimension values: desktop
  • click Application

Now you have two comparisons added to the standard GA4 reports. As you move from one standard report to the next, you will continue. But the key word here is ‘standard report’. It will not be applied to your explorations.

Once you configure your comparisons, the content of each card (the widget will change). Line charts will start displaying multiple lines/colors, and tables, bar charts, and tables will show side-by-side comparisons.

Below is an example of a file Reporting snapshot With the above two comparisons (mobile vs desktop).

Users’ line chart began to display two series of lines. You can distinguish them by color.

Users in the last 30 minutes Section is now divided into two (side-by-side comparison).

Traffic sources are also compared side by side.

This is the location data.

How to adjust comparisons

If you want to add more comparisons (or modify existing ones), click the Edit Comparisons icon in the upper-right corner of the GA4 interface.

As I said before, you are free to switch between the different standard reports and these comparisons will continue.

Export comparisons (sort of) to “Explorations”

There is an invisible feature in the Comparisons sidebar that you may find interesting. This is available pretty much everywhere except for Reporting snapshotAnd At present Report, overview reports (such as Acquisition overview). go to the Reports > Engagement > Events. Then click File Edit the comparison icon. At the bottom of the comparison sidebar, you will find a button explore.

Click it and you will be redirected to the free form exploration where the same dimensions, metrics (approximately) and comparisons will be included.

The reason I write “almost” next to metrics is because not all metrics from the standard reports are available in Explores. For example, if you try to click Explore in Reports > Share > Pages and Screens, you will notice that some metrics are not transmitted via:

  • Average Sharing Time Missing
  • Unique user scripts are missing

Maybe that will change in the future but as of the moment this blog post was written, not everything will be consistent.

Also, all comparisons from the standard report become slides in exploration.

Comparisons vs. Segments vs. Audiences in Google Analytics 4

If you are just starting to get familiar with the concepts of segments, audiences, and comparisons, you may have some doubts about their differences. This is a perfectly valid concern and in this chapter I will try to explain it.

Difference #1: Explorations

Slides can only be used in explorations, such as freeform or funnels.

Audiences cannot be used in explorations (but you can create audiences from segments within explorations).

Comparisons cannot be used in explorations directly. But if you click explore In the comparison side navigation (read the previous chapter), these comparisons will be converted to segments in that specific exploration.

Difference #2: Standard Reports

Segments cannot be used in standard reports. They are only limited to explorations. Sections are not shared between separate explorations.

Audiences can be used as a dimension in comparisons, and thus can be used in standard reports. But keep in mind that audiences are not retroactive. They will only start collecting data from the moment they are created.

Comparisons can be used in standard reports (which is their primary purpose).

Difference #3: Use in Google Ads (as remarketing audiences)

Segments cannot be used in Google Ads. They are primarily used for analysis in explore Section. But while creating a segment, you can choose to build an audience based on a segment. Read this blog post to find out more.

Audiences are primarily designed to be used in Google Ads as remarketing audiences. Read more.

Comparisons can’t be used directly in Google Ads, but if you want to go the silly route, you can click explore button in Edit the comparison sidebar > then click the 3 dots next to the clip (in exploration) that was created based on that comparison > then click Building a fan base in the slide builder and it’s done. You’ve just turned the comparison into a slide and then built an audience. It wasn’t necessary but, well, it was possible ­čÖé

Difference #4: Retroactive effect

Slides retrospectively. If you create a segment, it will display historical data based on your terms.

The masses are not retroactive. They will start collecting data only after it is created. So it’s a good idea to build as many audiences as you see fit as quickly as possible. Learn more about audiences.

Retrospective comparisons. Unless you use audience as a dimension in a comparison. Then that comparison would not be retroactive. For example, if you’ve just created an audience called “cart leavers”, the comparison you’re using won’t show any data.

The limits of comparisons

Slides, audiences, and comparisons are built for different purposes and so some of their limitations are natural. However, some of the things I’ve noticed are a bit annoying and I wish things were more fluid/powerful. Maybe that will change in the future.

lets take alook.

#1. Comparisons are only for standard reports. In explorations, use syllables.

#2. You can add 5 terms in one comparison. Personally, this is not a problem for me. The comparisons, in my opinion, are designed for quick checks, not for in-depth analysis. Thus, a limit of 5 terms is usually sufficient for me. Do I need more? Go to explorations.

#3. Terms or conditions cannot be used. All terms in comparisons are related to AND. Sometimes I wish we also had an OR option.

#4. You can make up to 4 comparisons at the same time. But this is logical. If you have more than 4 comparisons, the reports will go from “already crowded” to impossible to use, in my opinion.

#5. You can’t save comparisons. If you close the browser window with GA and later open GA, your comparisons will disappear and you will have to create them from scratch. Comparisons to quickly Analytics.

#6 Some useful dimensions are missing. For example, I’d like to be able to build comparisons based on the page path (or page URL). Some companies run websites where their content is in different locations/countries as folders, for example mywebsite.com/employment/ or mywebsite.com/from/. Unfortunately, at the moment of writing this blog post, you cannot compare data based on part of the URL (except for the hostname). You can compare different (subdomains) eg en.mywebsite.com vs de.mywebsite.com.

Google Analytics Comparisons 4: Final Words

The main takeaway here is that Google Analytics 4 Comparisons is designed to be used for quick analysis/comparisons in standard reports. But if you want to go deeper, you’ll have to use explorations with clips instead.

If you want to see a complete picture of how the data compares in different parts of GA4, read the following blog posts as well: Slides in GA4 and Masses in GA4.



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