What is Data Stream in Google Analytics 4?

What is Data Stream in Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a successor of Universal Analytics (UA) that helps track and analyze user interactions on websites and apps to provide insights into user behavior and website performance.


With a shift from session-based to event-based data, GA4 enables a more comprehensive understanding of the user’s journey.


This new model not only handles data differently but also changes the way accounts are set up. Unlike UA’s structure, which revolves around properties and views, GA4 introduces a new concept – data streams. 


In this article, we’ll explore what data streams are, how they work, and why they are crucial for your analytics. This information will provide a starting point for understanding GA4’s account structure and how you can use it to your benefit.


Understanding Data Streams

Simply put, a data stream is a collection of data from your websites or apps that gets transferred to the Google Analytics platform. When setting up your Google Analytics 4 properties, make sure to link each of your applications to the appropriate data stream. For each property, it’s possible to have as many as 50 data streams, with the option of including up to 30 data streams from applications.


The Changes in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4, with its advanced features, is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, Universal Analytics. The updated version lets you put data from various sources into one property. You can follow user actions across different platforms and sessions using only one reporting interface.

This is made possible by using intelligent identity resolution powered by machine learning. In the previous version, you had to create separate properties for each platform type, such as websites and mobile apps. 

Although this new approach requires more initial planning and setup, it offers a streamlined interface to analyze user interactions across different platforms in one consolidated view rather than keeping a user’s web and app activity separate.


Setting up a Data Stream in GA4

When you create a data stream, a unique measurement ID (G-ID) is generated. This ID allows Google Analytics to identify your data stream and carry out data collection. Google Analytics 4 will begin collecting data as soon as the G-ID is put to the source code of your website (and once some visitors have begun engaging, creating events for your data stream to broadcast). 

After your data streams have started collecting data, you can explore it using Google Analytics 4 reporting and visualization capabilities.


Where Can You Find Data Streams?

Here’s how to set up data streams in your GA4 account:

  1. First, go to the “Admin” section at the bottom left.

screen that shows google analytics


  1. Then, under the “Property” section, go to “Data Streams.”

Data Streams in GA4


  1. Choose your platform, then continue with the steps required for creating a new stream. When you’re finished, click the “Create stream” button.

Events on GA4

If you’ve already created your data streams, you can look at them and modify them by repeating the previous steps and clicking on each stream.


How to Install GA4 on Your Website?

To ensure GA4 tracks data on your website, you have two options for installation: Installing with the native tracking code or installing with Google Tag Manager. Let’s go over the steps involved for both of those options. 

call to action button

Installing Google Analytics 4 With the Native Tracking Code

If your website doesn’t support GA4 plugins or lacks a native GA4 integration, you can ask your developers to embed the native GA4 tracking code (gtag) into the website’s source code.


Go to GA4 Admin section > Data Streams > Choose your new data stream. After that, click on the option “View tag instructions.”


Next, click on “Install manually” and copy this code:

Code for Google tag manager

Send this code to a developer and ask them to embed it in the <head> section on every page of your website.

Installing Google Analytics 4 With Google Tag Manager

If you want more control and flexibility in handling tracking codes, consider installing GA4 with Google Tag Manager.


  1. Go to GA4 Admin > Data Streams > Choose your web data stream and copy the measurement ID.screenshot of measurement ID


    2.Next, go to your Google Tag Manager container, select “Tags,” then “New,” and opt for GA4 configuration

GA4 test container

Input the ID you copied from the GA4 interface into the Measurement ID field.

In the Triggering segment, choose “Initialization – All pages,” then assign a name to the tag, for example, “GA4 Configuration.” Ensure to save the tag.

GA4 tag configuration


  1. Next, you can test it out. Simply hit the “Preview” button at the top right section of the GTM interface.

GA4 setup


Once you activate the preview mode, the new GA4 tag should appear among the tags that have been fired.

Screenshot of GA4 Configuration

Testing Google Analytics 4

Once Google Analytics 4 is installed, the next step is to carry out a test. The DebugView section is the main feature for debugging data in GA4.

Under the Admin section on your GA4 account, go to DebugView.

screenshot of debugview


You should now see data in the DebugView. For a detailed list of parameters, click on each event.GA4 Top Events screenshot


If all goes well, go ahead and publish the GTM container!

submit GTM container

Congratulations, your GA4 property is now successfully receiving data!


What Are Enhanced Measurements in Data Streams?

When setting up a data stream for your website, you can use enhanced measurements, a feature set introduced in Google Analytics 4. The main goal of this feature is to allow marketers to get additional data in the reports without relying on developers or Google Tag Manager. 

When you switch on enhanced measurements, GA4 collects specific data automatically. This helps you quickly see reports about important user activities on your website, which is helpful. These measurements incorporate page views, video engagements, outbound link clicks, file downloads, and onsite searches. You can also set up tracking events to collect data specifically beneficial for your business.

Let’s dive into these elements in more detail. 


Exploring Key User Activities Tracked Automatically

These user behavior insights are valuable for refining content, marketing strategies, and user experience. Here’s how they can help you improve your site:


  • Page Views: By keeping track of page views, you can observe how often users visit specific pages on your site. This insight is valuable for refining your content and marketing strategy. Notably, this enhanced measurement event is always active and cannot be disabled in the user interface.


  • Scrolling: Monitoring scrolling patterns helps you gauge how deeply users explore your pages. This data assists in recognizing content that might need to be performing better and pinpointing where user interest wanes. Unlike the previous scroll tracking in UA, GA4’s tracking is triggered once when users reach the 90% mark of a page.


  • File Downloads: Monitoring downloaded files provides visibility into the resources that attract user interest. This information guides marketing and production decisions. If users frequently download a free resource, you might consider putting it behind a paywall or leverage it to promote a paid service or product.


  • Video Engagement: Tracking video plays allows you to identify which videos captivate users on your site. This aids in content creation decisions and selecting videos for promotion on social media platforms.


  • Site Search: Site search data reveals the terms people use to search, their starting points, and their paths on your site. These insights offer navigation cues and illuminate visitors’ goals when exploring your website. Such insights can prompt you to generate more of certain types of content and prove beneficial for your search campaigns.


  • Outbound Link Clicks: Monitoring clicks on outbound links is crucial as it helps you understand how users navigate away from your site. Additionally, you can identify which outbound links catch visitors’ attention. This information informs decisions about partnerships, social media, and content expansion. Monitoring outbound link clicks also facilitates the observation of traffic between different domains. 


Privacy Terms In Google Analytics 4 Data Collection

It’s important to know what kind of data you’re collecting from your users through Google Analytics 4. Ensure only to collect information that users have agreed to give. Always check the terms of use for Google Analytics 4, the terms for any services connected to it, and any privacy laws that apply to you or your users. Make sure you’re not collecting any personal information that breaks these terms. 



GA4 comes with many changes, and it might take some time to get used to it. Overall, you can now set up various streams in GA4, and analyze data from any stream in the standard and explore reports.

And while views are no longer available, GA4 does provide a powerful analytical engine that lets you filter and save reports. Plus, enhanced measurements are a handy feature that offers additional analytics and simplifies tasks.


We hope that our article has provided you with a better understanding of how data streams work in GA4 and that you can use this information to improve the management of your GA4 accounts.


Ready for a Data-Driven Approach?

At Play Media, we harness the power of GA4 to track and evaluate engagement and traffic across your digital platforms. We offer expert analysis of this data to provide valuable insights for your business. Stay informed about the latest Google Analytics 4 breakthroughs by keeping an eye on our blog.

Reach out to us today to discover how we can assist you in utilizing data and flourishing in the digital world!

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