GA4 brings with it a new data model and new challenges for reporting. Analytics Canvas customers include agencies and larger organizations who now need to get data from multiple GA4 properties in their data warehouses and their Data Studio, Tableau, PowerBI, and other dashboards and reports. So what are the options and is it possible to create a roll-up report for GA4? We'll cover the details in this post.
Why would you need multiple accounts and properties in GA4?
Accounts are the access point for Analytics and are containers for Analytics properties. They are owned by a single legal entity and governed by region-specific terms of service. As a result, organizations that work in different regions often require separate accounts for each region.
Properties are containers for reports based on data collected from apps and websites. A Google Analytics 4 property represents a single app and / or website within an account. You can have one or more Analytics accounts, each of which can contain up to 100 properties. For example, an Auto Group may have a property for each dealership, while a multi-national company may have an account for each brand and a property for each country. Properties are typically business units that are unique entities with separate stakeholders.
Data streams are simply flows of data from a customer touchpoint, like an app or a website, to a specific GA4 property. A data stream can only be linked to one GA4 property.
Pulling data from multiple GA4 properties for Roll-up reporting
Roll-up reporting is where data from multiple source properties are aggregated into a single property. It is offered to Analytics 360 customers, however Standard customers often want to roll-up their reports as well. To download GA4 data in bulk for segmentation and analysis in groups, the following 3 options are available:
Option 1 - Download data from the web interface and combine manually
The GA4 web interface gives you an option to download data from Reports and Explorer as either CSVs or PDFs. This is nice for occasional ad-hoc analysis, but since the data is delivered in a flat file that's not ready for data processing, analysts will have a hard time doing anything systematic or automated with these files.
In the web interface, you can select one account and one property to report on and to download data from. This works fine when the account has unrelated properties. However when managing a GA4 data warehouse or comparing multiple GA4 properties together in one report, you must use a third party application as neither the web interface nor the Google Data Studio connector support querying multiple GA4 properties at the same time.
Option 2 - Use the Google Analytics Data API for GA4 to Combine Multiple Properties
Google has developed the Analytics Data API to give programmatic access to raw data. The API has a fair bit of complexity, however a seasoned developer or data engineer could write an extraction script and land the data into their own database.
Google offers access to the API via Google Data Studio. While this is great for many users, those with high data volumes or those combining multiple properties will face challenges. High volume properties will see "(other)" a lot (like sampling in UA it distorts your results). Multi-property users will have to setup blends in Data Studio and can do a maximum of 5 per report. And finally, data prep will have to be done within Data Studio, a reporting platform that just isn't designed for it.
Other third party tools will certainly have connectors to GA4 - we bet it will be the most common connector among data-gathering and data prep tools. Like with UA, the vast majority of these will not be built by GA4 experts and will struggle to deal with sampling, quota limits, and the token system.
Analytics Canvas offers access to the API - more on that in the last section.
Option 3 - Use the BigQuery Export to Blend Multiple GA4 Properties using SQL
Google provides a BigQuery Export for those who want ongoing access to raw data without the limits of the API. If you haven't turned it on for all of your properties, we strongly recommend that you turn it on right now.
Using the BigQuery Export, one can write SQL that unions multiple properties together in a single query.
This is a totally valid option, until you consider:
- The SQL to extract data from BigQuery is so complex that you'll need training to do it properly.
- Since BigQuery is pay per use, there are tangible costs for doing it incorrectly (the courses are worth it)
- Knowing SQL isn't enough; data engineering and optimization are required to keep BigQuery processing charges to a minimum.
Using SQL to query against the BigQuery Export in tools like Tableau, Data Studio, and PowerBI can really rack-up the BigQuery charges. Querying over the entire table requires a scan of each event, even when only a few dimensions and metrics are required. Since the scan is repeated for each chart and table, and for each report user, those small charges can really add-up!!
Option 4 - The Easy Way - Combine data from multiple GA4 properties with Analytics Canvas
As Google Analytics Trusted Testers for over a decade, and as experts in GA4 data extraction, Analytics Canvas has developed a best-in-class connector to extract data from the GA4 Analytics Data API.
Using the Data API, it is possible to make multiple queries and combine GA4 data from multiple properties into a single export. For those with more than 100 properties or agencies with multiple credentials, Analytics Canvas takes things a step further. Canvas allows you to query over multiple Google Accounts to get data from all your GA4 properties in a single table.
Canvas provides a helpful user interface allowing the user to:
- select from all accounts and properties that each credential can access
- upload and download a list of properties for those with dozens, hundreds, and thousands of properties
- build queries using every available dimension and metric, including custom dimensions and meta data fields
The visual query builder makes it easy for any user to quickly define their custom query and land data within minutes.
Canvas adds data engineering to the resulting tables by:
- automatically storing them within your Analytics Canvas account for processing and analysis
- storing them in date-partitioned tables that are optimized for querying
- keeping them updated with incremental loads that account for data reprocessing
- versioning them to allow for quick roll-backs when things change or are not as expected
- linking to each workflow that uses them
- locking them for changes when they're used in automation workflows
- allowing you to add and remove views without affecting the underlying data that has already been stored
Most importantly, once the tables have downloaded, Canvas provides visual data-prep tools for processing and analysis without involving developers or data engineers.
While you can combine data from multiple GA4 properties using the web data export, the Data API, or BigQuery, the easiest and most efficient way to do it is with Analytics Canvas.
The GA4 connector for Analytics Canvas has been built by data engineers with decades of experience working with GA APIs. With our best-in class connector, you can create roll-up reports for both GA4 Standard and GA4 360 accounts, or download your data in bulk.
You can enjoy all the benefits of our Data Prep software and have access to a best-in-class GA4 data connector from as little as $49/mo.
Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways Canvas can help you with your GA4 reporting challenges:
- Extract data from all your properties using the API or BigQuery without writing code
- Profile, analyse, and prepare data for reporting
- Maintain your GA4 data warehouse within Analytics Canvas Online or your own DB
Ready for the next step?
- Start an instant 30 day risk-free trial. No credit card or sales call required.
- Schedule a demo for you and your team.
- Contact us to discuss plans and pricing or activate your subscription
Wondering if Canvas is right for you? Check out the related articles to learn more about our Data Studio Partner connector.