Both in Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager there are events, but their definition and the use we give them in both cases is not the same. Let's take a look at the differences:
Events in Google Analytics
If we go to GA3 reports, in the "Behaviour" section we can find a section called "Events". In GA4 reports, the event report has its own category (remember that one of the features of GA4 is that it measures events).
Basically in Google Analytics an event is an interaction (everything that happens on your website is an event) and can be measured, sent to the Google Analytics servers and, once consolidated, shown as data in the reports.
The above example represents a blog subscription action that is assigned a value of 0. This tag follows GA3 syntax and should be embedded in the submit button.
Events in Google Tag Manager
Now let's see what is understood as an event in Google Tag Manager and what is its utility.
For a better understanding, here is an image of Google Tag Manager's preview mode
On the left, in the grey column, you will see a series of definitions: "Container Loaded", "Window Loaded"... These are Google Tag Manager events.
The importance of these events is vital in Google Tag Manager, as you can use them to trigger tags. As an example:
- Container loaded can be used to activate the GA configuration tag.
- A Google Tag Manager link click event can be used to trigger a Google Analytics file download tag and send it to your property for later viewing in reports.
- A form submission event can trigger a GA4 event tag that sends this action to your property to be displayed in reports, or to trigger a Google Ads conversion tag.
- Finally, as Google Tag Manager events are populated by the data layer, you can trigger custom events (data layer events).
In short, an event in Google Tag Manager is placed in the data layer, which is automatically created when you implement and publish a Google Tag Manager container on your website, and can be used as a trigger for the different tags you implement, such as GA4 event tags, Google Ads tags, Facebook pixel...
Google Tag Manager is an intermediary between the web and, in this case, GA4. Its mission is to "observe" the interactions that occur on the web and create events, events that can then be used as triggers for tags, such as the GA4 event tag.
I know that the term event can lead to confusion. In a nutshell: GTM Event is a triggering action, GA Event is a tag.
Don't go yet
Google Tag Manager events are conditions that trigger a tag, while Google Analytics events are the tags.
For example, the "Scroll Depth" event can be used to set up and trigger a tag that will send Google Analytics different scroll events depending on how we set this event (e.g. at 25, 50, 75 and 100%) of scroll on a page.
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