The latest version of Google’s web analytics platform, GA4, differs quite substantially from its previous version, Universal Analytics (UA). In today’s blog, we will discuss the role played by the Google Cloud Platform in GA4 data retention.
Let’s brush up on our basics first.
GA4 differs from the previous version, Universal Analytics (UA), in a plethora of ways, such as:
• It makes use of a flexible event-based data model, while UA deploys a rigid hit-based data model. This means that GA4 can track and measure any type of user interaction on websites and apps, while UA is limited to predefined hit types, such as pageviews and events.
• It integrates web and app data in one property, while UA requires separate properties for web and app data. This translates into the fact that GA4 can provide a unified view of user behavior across a plethora of platforms and devices, while UA requires manual linking and cross-domain tracking.
• It has more advanced features and capabilities than UA, such as enhanced privacy controls, machine learning insights, predictive analytics, dynamic remarketing, and more. These features help GA4 users to understand their audience better, optimize their website performance, and achieve their business goals.
Let’s now explore how Google Cloud Platform (GCP) can help GA4 users retain and access their data more effectively and efficiently.
Understanding Data Retention in GA4
To begin with, data retention settings determine how long Google keeps user data on its servers. By default, GA4 only stores this data for two months. This does not mean that one can only see the data from the last two months of your visitors.
You can still access older data in your reports. However, if you do not change the default data retention setting, you cannot perform deeper historical analyses.
Having access to your historical data is crucial. Without it, you cannot do detailed and comparative analysis over time. If you only look at standard reports daily, you may not need to make any changes, but if you want to conduct an in-depth analysis over time, you should extend your data retention to a maximum of 14 months.
Decoding the Data Retention Settings and Options in GA4
Now that we are familiar with data retention in GA4 let’s get acquainted with the requisite settings and options.
• User-level data retention: This setting determines how long GA4 stores user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user identifiers, and advertising identifiers. This data includes information such as age, gender, interests, device type, location, etc. By default, GA4 retains this data for 2 months, but users can change it to 14 months in their data retention settings. However, certain user-keyed data is, by default, deleted by GA4 after two months of inactivity for a given user.
• Event data retention: This setting determines how long GA4 stores event data that is not associated with user-level data. This data includes information such as page views, sessions, conversions, etc. By default, GA4 retains this data for 2 months, but users can change it to 14 months or 26 months in their data retention settings.
• Conversion data retention: This setting determines how long GA4 stores conversion data that is associated with user-level data. This data includes information such as purchases, sign-ups, leads, etc. By default, GA4 retains this data for the same period as user-level data retention (2 months or 14 months), but users can change it to a different period in their conversion settings.
The data retention settings and options in GA4 affect how long users can access and analyze their historical data using advanced features like custom segments, reports, and explorations. Users can also choose to export their data to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services like BigQuery for longer-term storage and analysis.
An Insight Into Setting Up Best Practices and Tips for Managing Data Retention in GA4
Let’s now familiarize ourselves with some best practices and tips for setting up and managing data retention in GA4:
• Review your data retention settings and options in GA4 and choose the ones that suit your business needs and goals. You can find them in the Data Settings >Data Retention section of your GA4 property.
• Enable the “Reset user data on new activity” option in your data retention settings. This will reset the retention period for user-level data whenever a user returns to your website or app, ensuring that you do not lose valuable data from active users.
• Export your data to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services like BigQuery for longer-term storage and analysis. This will help you retain and access your data beyond the GA4 limits, as well as use advanced features like machine learning and predictive analytics.
• Monitor and review your data retention settings regularly and make adjustments as needed. You can use the Data Deletion Requests report in GA4 to see how much data has been deleted due to your data retention settings or user requests.
Delving Into The Bespoke Features of Google Cloud Platform for GA4 Users
GCP brings with it a host of benefits and features for businesses, both small and large, on account of its hassle-free access and user-friendly interface.
Some of the main features and benefits of GCP for GA4 users are:
• BigQuery: BigQuery refers to a cloud data warehouse that allows GA4 users to store and query large volumes of data. Subsequently, they can use its advanced features to garner deeper insights into their website and app performance.
• Cloud Storage: Cloud Storage is a cloud service that allows GA4 users to store and access their data in a secure and scalable way. GA4 users can use Cloud Storage to back up their data, archive their data, or share their data with other services or platforms.
• Data Studio: Data Studio is a cloud-based data visualization tool that allows GA4 users to create and share interactive dashboards and reports based on their data. GA4 users can use Data Studio to connect to various data sources, such as BigQuery, Google Sheets, or Google Analytics, and visualize their data using various charts, graphs, maps, etc.
• Cloud Pub/Sub and Cloud Functions: You can utilize them to stream and process your GA4 data. Cloud Pub/Sub is a cloud service that allows you to stream your GA4 data in real time to other services or platforms. Cloud Functions is a cloud service that allows one to run code in response to events, such as new data arriving in Cloud Pub/Sub. You can use these services to process your GA4 data in various ways, such as sending notifications, triggering actions, or transforming data.
On that note, we have shed light on managing data retention in GA4 for your business’ website. If you’d rather have professionals look into your Google analytics and campaigns, we suggest that you sign up for premium GA consulting services by team Mavlers.