The New GA: Engagement

Google Analytics has a new look! Known as GA4, the new reporting is quite a bit different from what we’re used to.

In the new Google Analytics interface, Engagement has its own set of reports.

You can see the various engagement metrics in the classic view under the Audience Overview report. Number of sessions per user shows the average number of visits from each user. In the screenshot below, showing a week of traffic at our lab site, we had a little more than one session per user. 

We can see that the average number of pages visited by each user was 1.37, and the average amount of time for a visit was just under one minute. Our bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who went to just one page) was 82.57%.


This can give us an idea of how engaged our visitors are, and we can work to increase engagement from that point. 

The GA4 Engagement report

The new Engagement report includes an overview report, plus Events, Conversions, and Pages and screens. The opening page shows us that the average engagement time at this website I 2 minutes and 23 seconds — more than double the amount of time spent at our lab site. This report also shows revenue; this site is not monetized, so there is no revenue. 

The Engagement overview report shows us the time on site, plus the number of sessions, which is less than one session per user.  It also shows us the average engagement time per session. It’s a little confusing that the average user had fewer than one session, but it makes sense that the time per average session would be lower than the time per user, as we see in the screenshot below. 


In the screenshot below, we can see the Events report. It lists some of the events being tracked: a page view, the start of a session, a click, and so on. 

Google defines events in analytics as “user interactions with content other than page loads (pageviews).” In addition to the events listed above, you could also look at occasions when users play a video, download a PDF, send in a form, use a store locator, and lots of other things. 

You can track events in the classic view of Google Analytics, but it requires extra code at your website. You also have to set up events in Analytics. The screenshot below shows the Events report, which is under Behavior, but since we haven’t set up any events at our website, there is no data.

We haven’t set up any events for the GA4 example we’ve been sharing (with permission), either, but GA4 automatically tracks some basic events for you.

This is a big difference between the old and new interfaces. 

Tracking events allows you to determine whether people watch a video on your website, for example. You can see whether people watch once or repeatedly and whether they watch before or after downloading a document or submitting a form. 


The new interface has a separate report for conversions. If you have an ecommerce site, for example, you can look at sales apart from your report on the number of visitors who watched your product video. 

The example we’re working with has no goals set up, so there are no conversions. However, a conversions does not have to be a sale. It could be a visit to a store locator, booking an appointment, filling out a Contact form, spending a certain amount of time on a particular page, adding an item to a cart, or making a donation.

Pages and screens

The pages and screens report shows engagements on specific pages. Without showing any identifying information, we have a screenshot below that shows some of the data presented for each page. 

It shows the number of visitors and the time they spent engaged on the page. If you scroll right, it also shows how many of the users scrolled below the initial screen — below the fold, so to speak.It shows the total number of events that took place on that page, and you can use the drop down menu to get the specific events that took place on the page. It also shows conversions and revenue (you have to set up goals to show that data).

The data is shown in a couple of different visual representations in charts just above this table. 

The GA4 interface gives you more information on engagement than you can easily get in the classic view. It also sorts the information out, it seems to me, so that it’s easier to focus on specific kinds of engagement. 

If you need a report that allows you to compare different kinds of product pages, for example, or different sales landing pages, this information could give you some very granular insights. 

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