Google Analytics has a new property type. Up until now you could set up properties to track websites or Android/iOS apps. As its name implies the new App + Web Property combines tracking for both websites and apps. This allows you to combine data from all your digital touchpoints into one property and assess how they influence each other instead of only comparing them separately.
How Does It Work?
To do this, Google Analytics has kept the Firebase Analytics that app owners have used to successfully track app interactions. This solution involves implementing an “Event Stream” to capture all the users’ interactions with the app as “events”. Many events are automatically captured when the tracking is set up and these include in-app ad clicks, clicks, pageviews (usually called screen views for apps), and in-app purchases among others interactions. Those that are not automatically tracked can then be specified in the code using a single event tracking method.
Additionally, user properties are collected along with events. Some of these are tracked automatically like country, age, and the device model. Properties not automatically tracked can also be added in the code.
All this differs from the Google Analytics web tracking where pageviews, ecommerce interactions and Google Analytics events are tracked using different methods and tracking must be specifically setup for each individually.
The real new feature that the App + Web property brings to Google Analytics is the ability to create event stream tracking for the web environment. As with app tracking, setting up the basic tracking code will automatically track a number of common interactions as events. These include pageviews, clicks, scrolling, and file downloads among others. Additional events can be added manually, although, it is recommended to implement these, as well as the initial code, via Google Tag Manager rather than in the code. The same goes for user properties.
How Do I Install It?
The first step is to create a new property in your Google Analytics account and select the App + Web property type when prompted.
To set up the tracking for the two types of data sources, app and web, you need to specify the “Data Streams” for each. This will be presented to you when you create the property. You will be asked to choose which Data Stream to set up: iOS, Android, Web.
For the iOS and Android apps, if you already have a Firebase app with Google Analytics set up, then you will just connect to this. If not then you will be asked to register the app, provision it in Google cloud and setup the tracking SDK (Software Development Kit). This can be a complicated process and will require developer input that is beyond the scope of this post.
The Web Data Stream is a less technical process as it can be set up via Google Tag Manager. You need to set up the Data Stream in Google Analytics first. For that, select it from the Data Stream options. Then fill in the URL and give the stream a name. Leave the “Enhanced Measurement” radio button on and click “Create Stream”.
Once this is done, you will be presented with a list of your Web Data Streams. Click on the one you have just created. When the information window has opened copy the Measurement ID as we will use this in Google Tag Manager. Then switch to Google Tag Manager.
If you do not have a GTM web container on your website then you will need to create one and implement the container code on your site. This tutorial assumes that you already have it set up (If you need help then please consult the Google Support page).
- In the GTM container, select “Tags” from the left-hand menu and then click the “New” button.
- Click on the “Tag Configuration” box and choose the “Google Analytics: App + Web Configuration” tag type.
- Paste your Measurement ID into the relevant text box.
- Click on the “Triggering” box and select the “All Pages” trigger.
- Your tag should look like the screenshot below. Then, click “Save”.
This is all you need to configure for the automatic tracking of the set of events and parameters. Once you publish the new tag, the App + Web property will start collecting this data.
If you would like to set up additional custom events, then you simply create a tag with the “Google Analytics: App + Web Event” tag type. In this tag you will pick the configuration tag you just created from a dropdown menu and give the event a name. Then you need to create a trigger as you would for previous Google Analytics implementations in GTM. You can find examples of how to do this in our other blogs.
Should You Switch To The App + Web Property?
The App + Web property is still in beta and so it is not yet advisable to have this as your sole tracking setup. It should be seen as a place to merge data from the two sources and see how their usage compares and how each impacts the other.
Purely from an app tracking perspective, there is not a lot of difference if you already have Google Analytics setup with Firebase.
The App + Web property, as mentioned, provides an entirely new method of tracking websites in Google Analytics. Right now, this method, while easy to set up, does not give the full range of functionality the usual web property does. Some examples are detailed e-commerce reporting, channel grouping, and filters. This makes sense as this new approach is still work in progress, and so, for now, we recommend keeping your web tracking.
Of course, if you have an app or you would simply like to start investigating and working with the new property then we recommend setting it up to run alongside your current web property rather than replacing your existing setup.