We hear weekly from new dealers who are struggling to properly configure their Google Analytics 4 (GA4) website properties, and their blind spots are typically the same. They have reviewed the ASC Specification Guide for GA4, but they are not sure how to implement the event standards in a practical way or what to request from their website tool vendors.
First of all, some background on GA4 and the ASC Guide. Google Analytics 4 was to replace Google Analytics Universal (aka GA3), on July 1, 2023. For nearly every dealership website, that date came and went, with GA3 still running normally. For many dealers today, GA3 is still running as of this writing. Dealers have been converting to GA4 for the last several months, but it is now getting serious as dealers will need to rely on GA4 full-time.
What is the ASC Specification Guide? It is the guiding document produced by the newly formed Automotive Standards Council (ASC), organized last year by Brian Pasch and his organization. This council is made up of nearly every automotive website, telephony, messaging, digital retailing, and trade tool provider. The much-needed industry guide created by the council offers not only standards that make initial setup and vendor-switching easier, but also offers additional flexibility for more robust reporting.
The problem we’re hearing from many plugged-in dealers and groups is that while they have reviewed the ASC guide, they are not sure how to properly implement the standards. These dealers need guidance on which GA4 ASC events should be marked as conversion events and which ASC events need custom events, dimensions, and metrics created for them. Some GA4 events are simple to mark as conversions, such as mobile click-to-call or lead form submission. Other GA4 events are more complex, requiring a custom event to be created. These custom GA4 events are based on existing events, and by referencing underlying event parameters, allow the creation of new events.
Understanding the underlying GA4 event parameters is the key to understanding how to report on just about any website metric. The ASC Specification Guide is the best place to start reviewing the various parameters that should fire for specific events. As mentioned earlier, the beauty of GA4 events lies in these parameters. With the ASC standard, almost any VDP page element can be passed into the event as a parameter. Parameters such as vehicle make, model, VIN, first-seen-date, and more can be included in reporting, allowing dealers to drill down for greater insight.
The other GA4 element we hear confusion on is tracking and reporting on GA4 events where the user does not want to necessarily mark this event as a conversion. A few quick examples are tracking vehicle detail pages (VDPs) or search results pages (SRPs). Dealers should not mark SRPs or VDPs as conversion events, but they still need to learn how to report on them using Explorations in GA4.
Learn More at Digital Dealer Las Vegas!
If you would like to learn how to overcome these GA4 challenges, I am presenting a 90-minute workshop at the upcoming fall 2023 Digital Dealer Conference titled, “Tracking Conversions in Google Analytics 4”. This session will show you how to set up both simple and complex conversion tracking, break out specific parameters, and report on both conversion events and non-conversion events.