Segments vs. Audiences vs. Comparisons in Google Analytics 4 – News Couple
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Segments vs. Audiences vs. Comparisons in Google Analytics 4


If you’ve tried working with Google Analytics 4, you’ve probably noticed that there are different features available for analysis (or building retargeting audiences). I’m talking about slides, masses and comparisons.

There may be slight overlap between some features but they are generally designed to serve different purposes. In this blog post, I wanted to address their differences so you can understand them better.

Related blog posts

To make sure you really understand these three features/topics, I highly recommend checking out dedicated blog posts as well:

Differences: Slides vs. Audiences vs. Comparisons

I’ve divided the differences into several groups:

  • Availability to explore
  • Availability in GA4 Standard Reports
  • Use in Google Ads
  • retroactive
  • Other differences

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. Read this to find out more.

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

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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.

Other differences

There are also other small differences that I decided to list as honorable mentions:

Slides vs. Audiences vs. Comparisons: The Final Words

There may be some small differences as well, but these differences (which I covered in this quick blog post) are the most important.

The basic idea 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. Audiences are best for targeting ads.

If you want to see a complete picture of these three features in GA4, read the following blog posts as well: Sections in GA4, Masses in GA4, Comparisons in GA4.



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