GA4 Data Streams: In-Depth Guide

GA4 data streams are critical for collecting and organizing data for analysis. Understanding the concept of data streams is essential for maximizing GA4’s potential. This guide will explore GA4 data streams and learn how they can help you gain valuable insights from your website or app data. Let’s dive in!

What are Data Streams in GA4?

Data Streams in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) refer to individual data sources that allow you to collect and analyze data from different platforms, such as websites, apps, and other digital properties. By setting up separate data streams for different platforms or properties, you can gain a more granular understanding of how users interact with each platform, and tailor your analytics and marketing strategies accordingly. Moreover, data streams in GA4 are sources of data that feed into your GA4 property, allowing you to consolidate and analyze user interactions across these platforms in one place. 

Each data stream represents a unique source of data within your GA4 property, enabling you to track and measure user interactions and behaviors specific to that source. In GA4, you can have multiple types of data streams within a single property, making it easier to manage the flow of data. Furthermore, each data stream is associated with a unique set of identifiers like stream URL, stream name, measurement ID, and stream ID for web streams, or App Name, platform, package name or Bundle ID, stream ID, and Firebase app ID for mobile apps. These identifiers help in tracking and managing the flow of data into GA4.

Overall, data streams are essential for understanding the customer journey across different touchpoints and are a key component in the GA4 architecture for capturing and analyzing user interactions. 

Differences between GA4 Data Streams and UA Views

The transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has brought significant changes to the way data is structured and analyzed. One of the main differences between GA4 and UA is the account hierarchy. In GA4, the hierarchy is Account -> Property -> Data Streams, while in UA, it is Account -> Property -> Views. Views in UA are essentially filters within a property, used to apply specific filters to the data from a property. For example, including only traffic from a particular domain or excluding internal traffic.

Here are the key differences between GA4 Data Streams and UA Views:

  • Data Collection: In UA, data is collected in views. In contrast, GA4 collects data in streams. These represent the data flow from different platforms, including web, iOS, and Android.
  • Property Structure: UA properties are separated by data sources, which requires a different property for each platform. On the other hand, GA4 allows multiple data streams within a single property. This provides a unified view of data across platforms.
  • Data Collection: UA views are all about filtering data, while GA4 streams are sources of data. Streams can act as different touchpoints in a user’s journey, whereas views are more about what data you want to see in reports.

Different types of Data Streams

In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), there are three primary types of Data Streams that you can set up to collect data from different platforms:

  • Web Data Stream: This stream collects data from websites. It’s used to track user interactions on web pages through a browser.
  • iOS App Data Stream: This stream is for iOS applications. It tracks user interactions within an iOS app, providing insights into how users engage with the app on Apple devices.
  • Android App Data Stream: Similar to the iOS stream, this one is specific to Android applications. It gathers data on user interactions within Android apps.

These data streams allow for a comprehensive view of user behavior across different platforms, providing valuable insights for optimizing user experience and improving overall performance.

How to set up a data stream in GA4

Setting up a data stream in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a process that varies slightly depending on whether you’re tracking a website, an Android app, or an iOS app. Here’s how to set up each type of data stream:

Web Stream

To create a web stream in your GA4 account, navigate to your GA4 admin page, find the data collection section, and click “Data Streams.” Next, click on ‘Add Stream’ and choose ‘Web.’ Enter your website URL and stream name. You can also configure enhanced measurement settings here.

GA4 Web Data Stream
GA4 Web Data Stream Setup

Once the stream is created, you’ll receive a Measurement ID, which you’ll use to link your website to GA4.

iOS App Stream

To create an iOS app stream for your GA4 account, you need to ensure that your app is registered with Firebase, as GA4 uses the Firebase SDK for app data collection. Once your app is registered, in your GA4 account admin page, go to the data collection section, and select “Data Streams.” Then, click on “Add Stream” and choose “iOS App.” This will open a new window with instructions on how to add the app stream. Follow the steps provided to complete the process.

iOS GA4 Data Stream
iOS GA4 Data Stream Setup

These steps include registering the App by providing your iOS bundle ID, app name, and App Store ID. You’ll then need to download the configuration file provided by GA4 and add it to your app project. Finally, you’ll need to integrate the Firebase SDK into your app to start collecting data.

Android App Stream

The process of creating an Android App Stream is quite similar to that of an iOS app stream. First, you need to ensure that your app is registered with Firebase, as GA4 uses the Firebase SDK for app data collection. To register your app, log in to your GA4 account, go to the data collection section, and click on “Data Streams.” Then, click on ‘Add Stream’ and select ‘Android App.’ A new window will appear, showing a series of steps to add the App Stream.

Android App Stream Setup
Android App Stream Setup

These steps involve registering the App by entering your Android package name and app name, downloading the configuration file provided by GA4, and integrating the Firebase SDK into your app to start collecting data.

Each type of data stream in GA4 collects data that is specific to its corresponding platform. This enables a comprehensive analysis within your GA4 property. To ensure proper data collection, it is important to follow the detailed instructions provided by GA4 at each step. If you come across any issues, the GA4 help documentation offers additional guidance and troubleshooting tips that can be very useful.

How to select the data from the specific data stream in GA4

Selecting data from a specific data stream in GA4 can be done in both Standard Reports and Explorations. The data stream dimension is key to isolating the data you want to analyze. Here’s how you can do it:

Standard GA4 Reports

Navigate to the report you’re interested in; we will use the “User Acquisition” report in our example. Use the comparison feature by clicking “Edit Comparison” at the top right of the report.

User Acquisition Report in GA4
User Acquisition Report in GA4

Choose the dimension “Stream name” and select the specific data stream you want to analyze in the value field.

Select Data Stream for Reporting
Select Data Stream for Reporting

Apply the comparison to view the data for that stream.

Apply Selected Data Stream for Reporting
Apply Selected Data Stream for Reporting

GA4 Explorations

Go to the “Explore” section in GA4 and create a new exploration or edit an existing one. Next, click on the “+” sign for dimensions and select the dimensions you want to include, including the “Stream name” dimension. Similarly, select the desired metrics using the “+” sign beside metrics. Next, arrange them in rows and columns. If you are new to GA4 explorations, refer to this detailed article for more information.

Define the report filter by selecting the “Stream name” dimension and specifying the stream you want; finally, apply the filter to display the exploration data by your chosen data stream.

GA4 Exploration Report for Viewing a Particular Data Stream Report
GA4 Exploration Report for Viewing a Particular Data Stream Report

GA4 Data Streams Limitations

GA4 Data Streams offer a robust way to collect data from various platforms but have certain limitations. Here are some of the constraints you might encounter:

  • Data Stream Cap: Each GA4 property can have up to 50 data streams, a combination of app and web data streams, with a limit of 30 app data streams.
  • Subproperties and Roll-up Properties: Free GA4 accounts do not support subproperties and roll-up Properties, which are only available in Analytics 360 paid accounts. Subproperties can be used to derive data from another property (i.e., the subset of the data for that property), while roll-up properties aggregate data from several properties.
  • User Access: In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), granting access to a single data stream is impossible as all streams are part of a single property. As a result, when access is provided to a property, it automatically grants access to all streams within that property.

Do you need help with Google Analytics 4?

GA4 offers a range of features and capabilities that enable businesses to gain valuable insights into their website or app performance and user behavior. By utilizing GA4, you can effectively track and analyze data, make data-driven decisions, and optimize your online presence. At Vakulski-Group, we specialize in providing comprehensive assistance with GA4, ensuring you can fully utilize this powerful analytics tool. Our services include GA4 implementation, customization, and data analysis. By partnering with us, you can leverage the full potential of GA4 and make informed decisions for your business. Contact us today to get started on maximizing the benefits of GA4!

Final Word: Data Streams in Google Analytics 4

In conclusion, it is evident that GA4 data streams play a crucial role in providing a holistic view of user interactions across various platforms. They enable businesses to gather comprehensive data, offering insights into user behavior and the performance of their business, whether it’s through a website, an iOS app, or an Android app.

However, it’s worth noting that data streams have limitations like data stream number cap and lack of access to individual stream instead of all the streams in a property.

Despite these constraints, mastering the setup and selection of data from specific Data Streams in GA4 can help users extract meaningful insights and make informed decisions based on the collected data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a data stream in GA4?

Data Streams in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are individual data sources that allow you to collect and analyze data from different platforms, including websites, iOS apps, and Android apps.

What type of data streams does GA4 offer?

GA4 offers three types of data streams:
1. Web Data Stream: For tracking interactions on websites.
2. iOS App Data Stream: For tracking interactions within iOS applications.
3. Android App Data Stream: For tracking interactions within Android applications.

Is it possible to use multiple data streams in GA4?

Yes, it is possible to use multiple data streams in GA4. You can set up different data streams for each platform (website or app) your business operates on and have them all feed into the same GA4 property. This allows for a unified analysis of user interactions across your web and mobile platforms. Each GA4 property can support up to 50 data streams, which can include a mix of web and app streams.

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