Recommended Events in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 is a whole new beast, and one of the big changes between this version and previous versions is that you now have an event-based data model. You have much more flexibility with your events in this new version of Analytics, and there are four different types you can use, including recommended events.

But, what are recommended events in GA4?

Recommended events are one of the four categories of events in GA4. Google provides its users with a list of recommended events depending on your needs as a business. These are the events Google suggests you use to collect important data, and you’ll use Google Tag Manager to set them up.

Today, we’re going to give you an overview of how events work in Google Analytics 4. Then, we’ll move on to discussing recommended events in particular. We’ll also give you a full list of all the recommended events for GA4, so come with us to learn all about these important events and which ones you need for your unique property.

Understanding Events in GA4

Okay, so before we jump into discussing recommended events in GA4, let’s first do a quick overview of what exactly events are in this new version of Google Analytics.

Things are quite different in Google Analytics 4, and the changes to event tracking are some of the most significant. In Universal Analytics, events track actions within your web pages or on the screens on your mobile app. But, Google Analytics 4 has an event-based data model. This means everything is sent to your reports as an event, not just the interactions you track as an event within a page. As a result, you have a lot more flexibility in your reports and there are fewer restrictions around the amount and kind of data you can collect.

Let’s explain a bit further. See, in Universal Analytics, events track information within a page and you need to set them up individually. In GA4, events are designed to send all kinds of data to your reports, including information about users, actions, and information from your website and mobile apps.

In Universal Analytics, events mean data is sent via a “hit,” and there are restrictions surrounding the kinds of hits you can send. But in GA4, hits have been replaced by events and you’re no longer restricted to the pre-defined options Google has set up.

In GA4, you can use events to track any information or actions you want, giving you much more control over your data collection. Some of your data will be automatically collected, like user engagement, page views, and outbound click tracking but you can set up new events at any time using Google Tag Manager.

For more information on using events in GA4, check out our previous post here.

What Are Recommended Events?

Alright, so now, let’s get into recommended events. In GA4, you have four categories of events. Your recommended events are one of those categories. The other categories include:

  • Automatically collected events
  • Enhanced measurement events
  • Custom events

So recommended events are just one of your options when setting up your events in GA4. But, don’t jump straight to using recommended events. While you will have to use some of them, you should first check out your automatically collected events. You might already be collecting data for an event that suits your needs.

Next, look at your enhanced measurement events. Again, if the events you need aren’t already set up, then you’ll want to go to the next step, and that’s recommended events. After that, you can look to set up custom events.

Google provides its users with a full list of recommended events. Some events are recommended specifically for eCommerce, while others are focused on gaming. And some events are recommended for all properties, like tracking downloads.

We’ll show you a complete list of Google’s recommended events and their parameters a little further down, but first, let’s talk about using events in Google Analytics 4.

How to Use Events in GA4

For the most part, you’re going to create your events outside of the GA interface, using Google Tag Manager. Anytime you want to create an event, you’ll start with GTM and go from there. All the recommended events operate in this way as well.

Then, once you’re in GA4, you can modify those existing events or create a new event out of one that already exists. For example, you can modify your enhanced measurement events.

One thing you might want to do is clean up your reports by renaming important events. In your enhanced measurement events, you automatically collect outbound link clicks as “clicks.” But, you can easily go into the GA4 interface to change the name of this event to be marked as outbound link clicks, which is what you really want to track anyway.

You can also create new events out of subsets of existing events. Google Analytics expert Fred Pike explains how to create an event as a subset of an existing event in the GA4 interface:

You can create an event when the event is “click” (which means outbound) and the link_url is facebook.com. You could then call that event “clicks_to_facebook. In both these cases, you're modifying or creating an event based on one of the enhanced measurement events.

What’s beautiful about the Google Analytics 4 interface is that you have automatically collected events. Even though you’re still going to want to create events in GTM, the fact the GA4 collects events automatically for you makes things much easier when you’re setting up your property. It also makes this platform more accessible to people who need simple monitoring.

To use your full list of recommended events, you’ll need to take advantage of Google Tag Manager. To see more about using GTM in Google Analytics 4, check out our previous post on GTM here. You can also check out the Google Tag Manager help guide here. To modify your events in your GA4 property, go to “Configure” > “Events.”

If you want your event to have the same parameters as the event you put under “matching conditions,” select the “copy parameters from the source event” box. For example, if you want your event to be triggered whenever a user selects content and you want the event to have the same parameters as select_content, check this box.

For more information on setting up events in GA4, check out the full developer guide seen here.

List of Recommended Events

Okay, so now let’s get to the good stuff—your recommended events.

Here, we’ll show you all the different events Google recommends for your GA4 property. We’ve broken Google’s recommended events into different categories, so check out the lists below for the ones that suit your needs.

Note: There is some overlap here, as some of the recommended events for all properties are the same as recommended events specifically for gaming or eCommerce. You can also supply additional information to your events by adding parameters, so we’ll include those for each event as well.

Recommended Events for All Properties

  • Ad_impression: a visitor has seen an ad impression.
    No parameters
  • earn_virtual_currency: the player earns virtual currency.
    Parameters: virtual_currency_name, value.
  • join_group: a user joins a group
    Parameters: group_id.
  • login: a user logs in on your website or app.
    Parameters: method.
  • purchase: a user purchases items.
    Parameters: affiliation, coupon, currency, items, transaction_id, shipping, tax, value.
  • refund: a refund is issued.
    Parameters: affiliation, coupon, currency, items, transaction_id, shipping, tax, value.
  • search: A user performs a search on your website or app.
    Parameters: search_term.
  • select_content: a user selects content.
    Parameters: content_type, item_id.
  • share: A user shares your content.
    Parameters
  • sign_up: A user has signed up.
    Parameters: method.
  • spend_virtual_currency: a player spent virtual currency.
    Parameters: item_name, virtual_currency_name, value.
  • tutorial_begin: a user starts a tutorial
    No parameters
  • tutorial_complete: a user completes a tutorial.
    No parameters

Recommended Events for Games

  • earn_virtual_currency: player earns virtual currency.
    Parameters: virtual_currency_name, value.
  • level_end: player completes a level.
    Parameters: level_name, success.
  • level_start: a user begins a new level.
    Parameters: level_name.
  • level_up: player levels-up.
    Parameters: character, level.
  • post_score: player posts their score.
    Parameters: level, character, score.
  • select_content: a user selects content in the game.
    Parameters: content_type, item_id.
  • spend_virtual_currency: player spent virtual currency.
    Parameters: item_name, virtual_currency_name, value.
  • tutorial_begin: a user starts a tutorial
    No parameters
  • tutorial_complete: a user completes a tutorial.
    No parameters
  • unlock_achievement: the player unlocks an achievement in the game.
    Parameters: achievement_id.

Recommended Events for Retail and Ecommerce

  • add_payment_info: a user inputs their payment info.
    Parameters: coupon, currency, items, payment_type, value.
  • add_shipping_info: a user inputs their shipping info.
    Parameters: coupon, currency, items, shipping_tier, value.
  • add_to_cart: a user adds items to their cart.
    Parameters: currency, items, value.
  • add_to_wishlist: a user adds items to their wishlist.
    Parameters: currency, items, value.
  • begin_checkout: a user begins checkout.
    Parameters: coupon, currency, items, value.
  • purchase: a user purchases items.
    Parameters: affiliation, coupon, currency, items, transaction_id, shipping, tax, value.
  • refund: a refund is issued.
    Parameters: affiliation, coupon, currency, items, transaction_id, shipping, tax, value.
  • remove_from_cart: a user removes items from their cart.
    Parameters: currency, items, value.
  • select_item: a user selects items from a list.
    Parameters: items, item_list_name, item_list_id.
  • select_promotion: a user selects a promotion.
    Parameters: items, promotion_id, promotion_name, creative_name, creative_slot, location_id.
  • view_cart: a user views their cart.
    Parameters: currency, items, value.
  • view_item: a user views an item on your site or mobile app.
    Parameters: currency, items, value.
  • view_item_list: a user views a list of items.
    Parameters: items, item_list_name, item_list_id.
  • view_promotion: a user views a promotion.
    Parameters: items, promotion_id, promotion_name, creative_name, creative_slot, location_id.

How to Test Events in GA4

And lastly, now that you understand how to set up events in GA4 and have a list of your recommended events, you can move forward with setting them up and testing them!

Remember, testing your events is an important final step. Without testing, you can’t be sure you’re collecting the data you need, so be sure to test before assuming everything is accurate.

To test your events in GA4, you can use your debug view. To get there, click “Configure” > “DebugView.”

Your debug view generates a real-time report you can use for testing purposes. Normally, Analytics batches events together and sends them in bundles, but debug mode allows you to test but keep the data separate from the rest. So you can test without worrying you’re going to skew your metrics.

All you have to do to test your event configuration is go to your website or app and complete the steps necessary to trigger the event. Then, head back to Google Analytics and look at your debug view. Once there, check out the middle column. There, you’ll see each event in detail along with a timestamp for when the event was triggered. If you click on the event, you’ll see a list of the parameters for that event.

Using Recommended Events in GA4

In closing, using recommended events in GA4 is quite easy. Google automatically collects some events for you, but you’ll almost certainly still have to use some of the recommended events to collect all the data you need, and Google Tag Manager is where you’ll need to go to set them up.

Don’t forget to test your events after setting them up to make sure they’re firing properly and collecting the data you expect. And be sure to experiment with custom events as well to get the most out of your GA4 property.

Have you run into any issues setting up your events or using recommended events? Let us know!

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