Event Parameters in GA4 | Varn


3 February 2023

Event Parameters: Replicating Categories, Actions and Labels in GA4

As our clients make the transition from the soon-to-be defunct Universal Analytics to GA4, the team here at Varn have been asked all sorts of questions about this new system for website analytics. Often, our clients want to set up Google Analytics 4 to exactly replicate what worked for them in the old version of GA. This is understandable – but due to the changes to how analytics now collects data, it isn’t always possible. Sometimes, a different set up will be needed, and often data from UA is not directly comparable to data from GA4. On the bright side, it is often possible to collect more (and more useful!) data in Google Analytics 4, providing you configure everything correctly. 

Recently, a client came to us to ask how to see Event Categories, Actions and Labels in GA4. We had to let them know that there is no out-of-the-box Event parameter report in Google Analytics 4 that would make this possible. Luckily, it is relatively straightforward to set up something similar, which will do the same job. And in this case, there’s even the option to collect much more data about your events than in Universal Analytics.

Do Event Categories, Actions and Labels Exist in GA4?

Digital marketers who are used to using Universal Analytics may be alarmed when we tell them that no, Event Category, Action and Label do not exist in the new Google Analytics 4 interface. However, it is still possible to collect the same data using GA4’s Event Parameters. Let us talk you through how to do so…

What Is an Event Parameter? 

Event Parameters offer further information about each Event action recorded on your website. For example, you could set up a GA4 event which triggers every time someone downloads a document from your site. You might then decide to set up an associated parameter to record which item was downloaded. Parameters like this provide useful secondary information giving you further insight into your events. 

In Universal Analytics, data of this sort was collected for each event under the fields Event Category, Event Action and Event Label. In Google Analytics 4, there is more freedom to set up the specific, individual parameters that work for you.

GA4 does automatically collect certain parameters with every event.

GA4 does automatically collect certain parameters with every event. These are language; page_location; page_referrer; page_title; and screen_resolution. However, you are likely to want to collect further, different parameter information for your events, in which case you will have to proactively set this up.

How Do I Collect Event Parameter Data in GA4?

We generally use Google Tag Manager to set up GA4 event tracking for our clients. When setting up a new event tag in GTM, it is possible to add a selection of relevant parameters to the event. For example, you might create an ‘Add to Cart’ event for every time a product on your ecommerce website is added by a visitor to their shopping cart. You could then add parameters such as Product (the name of the product selected); Value (the cost of the product selected); and Currency (the payment currency chosen by the visitor). You can add multiple parameters to each event, allowing you to collect much more data than the old Event Category, Action and Label fields from UA provided. 

However, you will not be able to see this data in most of your Google Analytics 4 reports until you also set up Custom Definitions.

How Do I Set up Custom Definitions in GA4?

After you create GA4 events with relevant parameter data, you will want to pull this into your GA4 reporting. Somewhat confusingly, to begin with you will only be able to see this information in real-time reporting (covering the last 30 minutes and no longer!) In order to see your new Event Parameters in all their glory, you will need to set up corresponding Custom Dimensions and Metrics. A standard GA4 account allows for the creation of up to 50 custom definitions of this kind. First, head to the ‘configure’ area, and select ‘custom definitions’. Then decide if your parameter is a dimension or a metric, hit the ‘create’ button and give the dimension a name you will recognise in reports, before simply selecting your corresponding event parameter from the drop-down list. 

How Do I See Event Parameters in GA4 Reports?

After you have set up new Event Parameters to capture the data that once lived within the Event Category, Action and Label fields in Universal Analytics – and then created associated custom dimensions and metrics – you will be able to find this information in GA4’s engagement reports. Simply click into the Events report to see a list of all the events that have been triggered on your site. In the first column, ‘Event name’ you should see a small blue cross which allows you to add secondary information to the table on display. Click on the cross to add your Event Parameter data – your new custom dimensions and metrics will be listed under ‘Custom’. 

Is there an easier way?

Struggling to understand GA4, event parameters and custom definitions? Get in touch with the team of data experts at Varn. We can help you to configure Google Analytics 4, set up event or ecommerce tracking, and even create custom dashboards to pull out the most relevant data into an easy-to-read report. For instance, we can set up an automatically-updated dashboard which will show you the events you are tracking on your website alongside all the associated parameters – effectively pulling in all the information that used to sit within Event Category, Action and Label within Universal Analytics. Sound good? We look forward to hearing from you! 

Article by: Helen, Senior Technical SEO Manager More articles by Helen

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