Creating a Real-Time Dashboard with Google Analytics 4 Data

Creating a Real-Time Dashboard with Google Analytics 4 Data

This blog will teach you how to create a real-time dashboard using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data. You can watch also watch the YouTube video below.

Why Use BigQuery with GA4?

The free version of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) may take up to 24 hours to update, which might not suit all businesses. While GA4 360 offers more frequent updates, its cost can be prohibitive for many companies. However, even with the standard version of GA4, you can achieve near real-time data streaming to your dashboard. This is possible by exporting data to BigQuery and enabling billing for BigQuery projects. You might wonder why exporting raw data to BigQuery is beneficial. Here are some advantages:

  1. Accuracy: GA4 estimates total users, and as your data set grows, it samples. This can lead to inaccuracies.
  2. Carnality Issues: For dimensions with over 500 unique values a day, GA4 will hit undefined processing limits and data quality will be reduced. This will also cause data to be combined into rows of “(other)” in reports. Exporting data to BigQuery eliminates this issue.
  3. Real-Time Streaming: Useful for detecting fraud or investigating conversion funnel issues in real-time.

Preparing for Your Dashboard

Before you start, list all the dimensions and metrics you need for your report. If you have an existing dashboard using GA4 data, make a copy of it. This ensures you have a backup.

Linking GA4 to BigQuery

  1. Check the Link: Go to Admin in GA4, and ensure your property is linked to a BigQuery project. Make sure billing is enabled.
  2. Verify Export Types: In BigQuery links, confirm that export types are set to daily and streaming. Streaming is only available with billing enabled.

Accessing Your Data in BigQuery

In Google Cloud, navigate to your BigQuery project. You should see both historical and intraday (real-time) data. For larger projects, use SQL directly in BigQuery. For smaller projects, tools like Analytics Canvas simplify the process by writing the SQL for you.

Using Analytics Canvas

  1. Create a New Canvas: In Analytics Canvas, create a new canvas and name it.
  2. Import GA4 Data: Drag in Google Analytics, select GA4 BigQuery, and choose your property. Select dimensions and metrics like date, sessions, event name, and first user source.
  3. Set Date Range: Choose a start date and reload the last 5 days to include today’s data for real-time updates. Google can take up to 3 days to update acquisition data, and so it is important to reload the past 3 to 5 days worth of data to allow for this process.
  4. Export to Looker Studio: Once your data is ready, export it to Looker Studio. This minimises processing costs and speeds up your dashboard.

Updating Your Looker Studio Dashboard

  1. Connect Data: In Looker Studio, connect to your Analytics Canvas table instead of GA4 directly.
  2. Verify Charts: Ensure all charts update correctly with the new dimensions and metrics.
  3. Schedule Updates: Go back to Analytics Canvas, create an automation package, and schedule updates as needed. This can be as frequent as required based on data volume and cost considerations.

Adding Real-Time Update Button

In Looker Studio, insert a button to update your dashboard in real-time. Use the link from Analytics Canvas and apply it. Style the button as needed.

Final Checks and Notifications

  1. Include Today’s Data: Ensure your dashboard includes today’s data.
  2. Set Notifications: In Analytics Canvas, set up notifications for failures to stay informed about any issues without being overwhelmed by success notifications.

Conclusion

If you manage an ecommerce site or a news site needing up-to-date insights, building a real-time dashboard using GA4 data, BigQuery, and Analytics Canvas is invaluable. It allows you to address conversion issues promptly and maintain an edge in your analytics.

Finally, you can view our other blog posts here.

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