GA4 Event Tracking via GTM – Where are my Event Parameters?

Written by Michael Wilson

Michael is the Digital Analytics Director at GlowMetrics, implementing complex tracking for our largest clients via Google Tag Manager while leading our wider analytics work across Google Analytics, Data Studio and Optimize.
October 22, 2021

The latest version of Google Analytics – GA4 – brings a whole new measurement framework.  It also requires a whole new set of Google Analytics tags to be configured via Google Tag Manager to capture all of the things you’d tracked previously for Universal Analytics.

So the first thing to bear in mind when making the transition to GA4 is that you’re starting from scratch again with your tagging requirements.  There is another important distinction to be noted up front, specifically for event tracking…

 

Goodbye Event Category, Action, Label and Value – Hello Event Parameters!

The naming convention for Events in GA4 is totally different.  We no longer have to consider the tracking of our events using the hierarchical structure of Category -> Action -> Label -> Value as per Universal Analytics.  This brings with it some advantages but also means we have to totally rethink our naming conventions and our data collection.

Previously in Universal Analytics, Event Category and Event Action were required, as a minimum.  You could also use the Event Label to capture additional data and the Event Value too (as long as it was an integer).

GA4 introduces Event Parameters.  They’re entirely optional too – so if you just want to know how many clicks a button gets but that’s all you need to know, you can create a tag to capture that event and that’s it, no need for additional parameters.  Simple.

Conversely, if you want to track an Event and you want to capture multiple additional Event Parameters associated with that particular action, we can assign as many Event Parameters as we need.  So it’s a big change – we’re not thinking Category, Action and Label anymore – we’re thinking Event + (optional) Parameters.

Let’s look at an example – we’re currently tracking clicks on the Top Navigation of our website (the links at the top of this page).  In Universal Analytics, we might’ve used this naming convention:

Event Category: Top Nav Clicks
Event Action: {{Click Text}} i.e. the text the user clicked
Event Label: {{Click URL}} i.e. the URL the user clicked

In GA4, we still want to capture the same data but we’ll have to set two new Event Parameters to do so. In this instance, we’ll use the naming convention below:

Event Name: top_nav_clicks
+ additional parameters:
click_text: {{Click Text}}
click_url: {{Click URL}}

We could’ve called the two additional parameters anything – if you wanted to be more specific than ‘click_text’ and ‘click_url’, you could go for something like ‘nav_text’ and ‘nav_url’.

It’s totally up to you but we’d recommend keeping the event parameters quite generic so they can be re-used for other events – GA4 has a quota of 50 event-scoped Custom Dimensions, so if you’re tracking lots of events, these parameters will count towards that quota.

 

How to Configure GA4 Events within GTM

Your trigger in GTM for GA4 Events will be exactly the same as for any other tag type, so let’s focus on the tag configuration itself. You’ll want to set the Event Name and add the Parameters as per the screenshot below.

GA4 Event Configuration in GTM

That’s the GTM part done – and you will see these ‘top_nav_click’ events coming into GA4 in real-time straight away, however, if you look within the Event reports, you might wonder where your event parameters are.

Here’s the important bit: your Event Parameters won’t be visible within GA4 itself unless you configure the Custom Definitions within the interface.

 

How do I see Event Parameters within the GA4 interface?

As mentioned above, your Event Parameters won’t be visible within the GA4 reports until you configure them as Custom Dimensions within the interface.

You can do this by clicking on Configure -> Custom Definitions -> Create Custom Dimensions

The ‘event_parameter’ here should match EXACTLY what you’ve used in your GTM tag configuration (refer back to earlier screenshot). The ‘Dimension Name’ is how it will look in the GA4 interface so you can name that as you wish and the Description is purely for anyone looking at the account configuration so they know what it’s used for. In this instance, we should also use ‘Event scope’ as we only want to associate this parameter value with this singular event hit.

Once you’ve created a new Custom Dimension for each of your new Event Parameters, go back into the reporting interface and click on one of the new Events – you’ll now see a new widget with a breakdown for that event for each of our new parameters (see ‘Click Text’ below).

 

Hopefully this guide helps you set up GA4 Event Tracking and surface those Event Parameters. If you’re having any trouble, let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help!

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoyed reading this article? Find more like it below…