The GA4 Data Thresholding hidden data issue surfaced with the cutover to the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on July 1, 2023. While you can now better track web traffic and events through your web pages, analyze the user journey through your site, and gain better insight into the types of devices the users view it on, this issue of data being hidden from users has also surfaced, causing a lot of heartache. In this article, learn how to work around this new “feature”.
New Abilities, New Limitations (such as GA4 Data Thresholding)
Businesses everywhere are creating and tracking custom events and leveraging GA4 to better understand their customers. If you use Domo and Domo Google Analytics reporting as part of your reporting and analytics stack, learn more about the new and helpful data available in GA4 and how to connect to your Domo instance in a Google Analytics 4 Migration.
As users transition, some have encountered unexpected results in traffic and event totals when pulling information from the Google API. For example, where previous month user traffic through Google Analytics 3 (GA3) may have reported 1,000 users, the report from GA4 may now total 600 instead. This is due to a new feature in GA4 called Data Thresholding.
What is GA4 Data Thresholding?
GA4 Data Thresholds are in place to protect the individual identity of the web users. You will know Data Thresholding has been applied if the data indicator turns yellow when creating an Exploration in Google Analytics Hub, or if a column in an API response reads “subjectToWitholding” with results “true” in any of the rows.
If Google provides raw, detailed data and if the user volume is low enough, those reports could inadvertently provide individual user behavior since the numbers become small enough to potentially attribute actions/behaviors with individual users. Whenever the volume of data in the report falls below the Google-defined threshold, generally because of low event or user counts, Google will aggregate or withhold certain data points. Particularly for smaller organizations, this often leaves users with very limited data and no clear idea which aspect of the requested information triggered the GA4 Data Threshold.
What Can Be Done to Avoid GA4 Data Thresholds?
Because this is ultimately about protecting privacy of the web users, there is no way to directly disable GA4 Data Thresholding; nor can it be adjusted. Instead, the ultimate resolution is that you need to either create a report that returns greater numbers of users or other traffic metrics per row, or aggregate up and limit the reporting detail another way. Here are some options for requesting data in a way that will not trigger the thresholding criteria:
- Expand the Date Range: Reporting on a narrow date range creates a more detailed report with smaller groups of users. Expanding the date range increases the number of users reported and may help avoid Data Thresholding.
- Report on Different Metrics: The metric you wish to report on may inherently be very specific and therefore return low counts of users. Try creating a new custom event that captures the essence of what you want to track, but in a broader way that would return higher user counts.
- Drop Search Query Information: Leaving this out of your report will result in more users in a given row in the final report.
- Disable Google Signals: When you have Google Signals enabled, you are provided additional demographic and interests data about your web users. This makes the data more sensitive and can often trigger thresholding. You may need this enabled if you plan to use that demographic data or employ targeted ads through Google Ads, so make sure to avoid this option if you need those. Keep in mind also that this will only work on a go-forward basis.
- Export to BigQuery: If you need Google Signals enabled but still wish to avoid Data Thresholding, consider reporting through BigQuery. Google Signals data is not included when transferred to BigQuery and may also help avoid Thresholding.
If you are encountering data gaps in your GA4 results, the cause is likely GA4 Data Thresholding. While there is no way to eliminate the GA4 data thresholds, as shown above there are several ways to work with reporting options to avoid encountering the thresholds. By implementing some or all of the options above, you will be on a better track and report with accurate insights from your GA4 data. At Graphable, we have a team of experienced data experts that can guide you through the challenges of Google Analytics like this and drive solid insight from your data.
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