#55 BREAKING changes in the GA4 Data API

The Measure Pod
The Measure Pod
#55 BREAKING changes in the GA4 Data API

This week Dan and Dara react and discuss the recent announcement of the schema changes in the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Data API. Are Google going backwards by (re)introducting scope compatibility, or is this what was always missing and will now help the transition from Universal Analytics?

The GA4 Data API schema compatibility changes announcement is at https://bit.ly/3Md2lnR.

And the ‘cheat sheet’ they mentioned from GA4 Spy is at https://bit.ly/3V6mXCi.

In other news, Dan Measures Fests and Dara watches running?!

Follow Measurelab on LinkedIn – https://bit.ly/3Ka513y.

Intro music composed by the amazing Confidential – https://spoti.fi/3JnEdg6.

If you’re like what we’re doing here, please show some support and leave a rating on Apple, Spotify, or wherever really.

Let us know what you think and fill out the form https://bit.ly/3MNtPzl, or email podcast@measurelab.co.uk to drop Dan and Dara a message directly.

Quote of the episode from Dan: “Google can try to guess what it is you mean, but it’s a stupid machine and often gets that wrong.

Quote of the episode from Dara: “I get what you’re saying about how maybe there’s an argument for this one, but I’m greedy and now I want to look at device type by query string parameters and I can’t, so I’m upset.”



[00:00:00] Dara: On today’s episode of The Measure Pod, Dan and I talk about some breaking changes that will be occurring around schema compatibility with the GA4 Data API. If you want to find out what any or all of those words mean, then check out the episode.

[00:00:29] Daniel: And speaking of breaking things, breaking news, we are currently, if you’re listening to this, the day it comes out we’re at brightonSEO. So if you happen to be at brightonSEO and you’re listening to this first thing on the way in, then drop me or Dara an email at podcast@measurelab.co.uk and grab us for a coffee or a beer and we can chat about all things analytics, enjoy.


[00:00:48] Dara: Hello and welcome back to The Measure Pod, a podcast for people in the analytics world to talk about all things analytics. I’m Dara, I’m MD at Measurelab.

[00:00:56] Daniel: And I’m Dan, I’m an analytics consultant and trainer at Measurelab.

[00:01:00] Dara: So sometimes we have news and a topic, and every now and again the news is our topic. So this week there’s been a lot of discussion here at Measurelab around a fairly low, I’d say, would it be fair to say it was a low-key announcement? There hasn’t really been a big deal made of it so far, as far as we’ve seen, but this relates to, Google are calling it breaking change or a set of breaking changes to the schema, and it’s to do with scopes, which as far as I was concerned wasn’t a thing in GA4 but apparently it is a thing, or at least it is going to be a thing come the 1st of December. So why don’t you kick things off Dan by just giving us a little summary of what this announcement was.

[00:01:39] Daniel: Sure well, specifically we’re talking about the Data API here. So there’s a couple of different ways of accessing data in GA4 and the API is one of them. So I suppose this is the Reporting API from our Universal Analytics friends out there. So the Data API is the thing that plugs into things like Tableau and Data Studio. And if you’re building any reporting tool using the API, this is going to, in a sense, directly affect you. And exactly as you said Dara, it affects scopes. But specifically they’re making changes to the API that will break previous configurations of the API potentially.

[00:02:10] Daniel: So you don’t have to do anything, but come the 1st of December when this feature or this change, this breaking change rolls out. What you might find is some of your dashboards in Data Studio, you might even find some explorations or custom reports in the reporting library within GA4 might stop working, and it’s because of this. It’s not a new piece of news actually. It’s been around for a little while now, but it’s only just caught our attention and done the rounds on the Measure Slack and the Forum and other places like that. So it’s only really been brought to our attention in the last week or so, but it’s a big deal.

[00:02:40] Daniel: This is a big deal, because we’ll go through exactly I suppose what those changes are and what their recommended actions are, but I suppose the initial reaction, the initial sense I get from this is, GA4 or Google specifically, what they’re doing is they’re pulling back a progression into this kind of event schema, this kind of scopeless data schema, and pulling it back into the scoping world of Universal Analytics where we had to be super careful with product, session, hit, and user level scopes and dimensions, and worry if we’ve done the right combination of things without fear of breaking things.

[00:03:13] Dara: I’m pretty sure as I was listening to you there, it came back to me that we, I’m almost certain that we could find a quote from a previous episode where we said something along the lines of, thank God we don’t have to explain scopes anymore. I think it was on a previous episode where we were talking about some of the benefits of GA4 and some of the things we’d be glad to leave behind with Universal Analytics. And maybe this is skipping ahead, but I’m really keen to hear from you if you have a theory as to why this is happening. Why would they step backwards? Or why would they introduce this concept of scopes? Do you think there’s an underlying problem that maybe they weren’t aware of and now they’ve realised they have to, they have to introduce scopes again? Or do you think it’s going to enable something else further down the line and maybe it’s going to be a positive change that we’re not aware of yet? What do you think?

[00:03:57] Daniel: Obviously we don’t know exactly why the change is happening. My feeling is that Google has been under a lot of pressure since rolling GA4 out as the primary Google Analytics version where they’ve got some feature, some features missing from Universal Analytics and specifically around custom dimensions. So session level custom dimensions and metrics and product level custom dimensions and metrics. And what my initial theory is of why they’re doing this now is to be able to implement session level custom dimensions and metrics they need to create a new entity of sessions. And I think, you know, if I was to really think about it, I mean, we could, maybe you can see the first signs of this happen, I can’t even remember when it was now, maybe sort of February or earlier this year, where they changed the calculation of sessions in GA4 without actually anyone really noticing.

[00:04:44] Daniel: So the way that we easily explain that and the way it used to be is that the count of sessions in the interface used to be a count of the session_start events, and it was really simple to explain, simple to understand because it’s just a count of events. They made a small change where they started to calculate sessions based on unique Session IDs, which is a slight, it almost feels like we’re saying the same thing, but we’re not. We’re actually calculating sessions based on a different dimension now rather than the event account of session_start events. The reason I think that they started doing that, is they started creating this concept of a session and doing calculations based on that so that they could then embellish that with things like bounce rates and conversion rates and session level dimensions and metrics, maybe even custom dimensions and metrics that they, where fingers crossed, will release down the line.

[00:05:28] Daniel: So I feel like they had good intentions originally of saying we don’t need this. We’re going to go ahead with events and users. But slowly but surely they’ve been. Back, or at least my initial reaction is I feel like they’re being dragged backwards in time just to replicate something that we had in universal Analytics. Maybe because there’s lots of loud people demanding it, but I don’t know if it’s a good thing. I think, yes, it’s nice to have feature parity with the previous version, but actually there’s got to be a time where we’ve got to say, and I think we’ve had this exact argument on this podcast before Dara, but like, is the session dead? Is it a time to move away from sessions? Because, you know, having events and having users make sense, but sessions mean a completely different thing to when they were created many, many years ago right.

[00:06:07] Dara: Yeah and I think what I said when we last debated, it was long live the session and it looks like I’ve got my way.

[00:06:12] Daniel: Yeah, they heard you. I need to put a more compelling argument forward.

[00:06:16] Dara: I didn’t realise how much power I actually had.

[00:06:20] Daniel: Let’s do a little bit of breaking down what the actual changes are, right? And then maybe we can go into a bit of like what actually means for people like us and our clients and people using this kind of stuff. So as we previously mentioned these changes will take effect from December 1st. So as of the time of recording, we’ve got about a month left of using it as we currently are. So we’ve got about a month to potentially get ready for this kind of stuff, maybe update any dashboards or reports that we might be using, or the more likely the case, we just wait for them to break and see what needs fixing before we second guess ourselves. So there’s three things that are technically changing, three breaking changes that will occur.

[00:06:54] Daniel: So the first one, and I want to read this word for word and then maybe we can interpret it. So the first one is item scope dimensions like item name are becoming incompatible with event scoped metrics like event count. Item scope dimensions will still be compatible with item scoped metrics like item revenue, user based metrics like active users, and session based metrics like sessions. So in a sense, what it’s saying there is that item scoped dimensions, like item brand, item variant, item name, item category, won’t be able to be used with event scoped metrics. So for example, event count, total events. So we won’t know how many events an item/product would be viewed in, for example.

[00:07:33] Dara: I guess the first thing is you read this and as you said at the beginning, or you know, when you introduce this, it’s like we could read it and then try and interpret it. So when I first read this, I was just trying to get my head around where this might be an issue and when you look closer into what metrics aren’t going to be compatible, you see something like item views. This one’s very hard to make sense of this because if item views isn’t a compatible metric with item name, then you know, that just seems really bizarre to me. Perhaps item views should be an item scoped metric rather than an event scoped metric. So there’s probably loads of other examples of this as well, but it just seems a little strange in terms of the naming why you would have something like item name, which is a nice way to categorise items, but then not have views of those items as a metric that you can query against that dimension, seems really odd.

[00:08:22] Daniel: It does, it almost feels like a mistake, right? It feels like maybe, Well, I’m hoping in a sense this documentation isn’t right, right? And I think that would be the best case scenario because not just item views. I mean, reporting views by item is actually one issue but even just things like add to carts and checkouts and conversions and you know, transactions, these are all things you can’t report at an item level. You think, well if I can’t report on how many views and how many add to carts and then how many checkouts and conversions per item, then this is a real big issue for us, because even just from Enhanced Ecommerce, or even regular ecommerce, actually some of the events in reporting we could do in Universal Analytics, that was a pretty standard thing to want to be able to do.

[00:08:58] Daniel: So if we can’t report at a product level or an item level, should we say in GA4 and understand views, add to baskets, checkouts and conversions. Then what can we do? What does ecommerce look like within GA4? What, what is left?

[00:09:10] Dara: I’m really hopeful it’s a mistake because otherwise what can you do with add to cart? Basically just count aggregate add to carts without knowing any of the detail around what actually was added to cart, which seems unlikely that would be the case. So it wouldn’t be the first time documentation was wrong. So let’s hope that this is one of those times because otherwise it’s going to make item level, product level reporting very, very limited in GA4.

[00:09:34] Daniel: Yeah and after the amount of work that it takes to get the data layer implemented to get all that kind of stuff done, you think, well what for? At the end of it, if it’s all aggregate anyway, then what’s the point?

[00:09:44] Dara: Yeah unless this is teeing up, slight guess work here, but unless this is actually the precursor to some other changes to how, you know, maybe things like item views would become an item scoped metric rather than event scope metric.

[00:09:57] Daniel: Yeah, maybe it’s a stepping stone, like you said. Like they’re, initially, they’re going to be incompatible, but then they’re going to change scope of those dimensions and metrics shortly after. Again, I mean, even if that is the case, it’s a classic Googlism of no visibility or exposure to these changes or what they’re thinking about. This podcast might be redundant the day after the changes roll out, who knows?

[00:10:16] Dara: Well, yeah, and just add to that, this is a fairly limited, this is kind of just the technical description of what’s going to change. There’s nothing else behind it to explain any of the rationale or to say what might come next. This is just the official kind of Data API development page or technical page I’m not sure what to call it. So, you know, it might be that this is just some updates that are being made behind the scenes, but there might be some further context to come.

[00:10:38] Daniel: And of course we didn’t mention at the top, but we’ll put the link to this article that we’re reading into the show notes so you can read it for yourself and interpret it however you like. When they talk about breaking changes, this is quite apt and quite descriptive of what is actually going to happen because if you are currently in, for example, Data Studio looking at item views and add to carts by item, which is, you know, let’s say you’ve got an ecommerce dashboard in Data Studio that potentially could be breaking on the 1st of December. So it’s a pretty standard thing to be able to want to do within the API within Data Studio. So just bear that in mind that any kind of item level reporting might need a bit of TLC come the 1st of December.

[00:11:12] Dara: Well, that’s just made me think of something else. So what does breaking actually mean? Because one of the frustrating things about scope incompatibility with Universal Analytics is it doesn’t tell you when you try and query incompatible dimensions and metrics and you often will get numbers back. They just don’t mean what you think they mean and this has caused so many problems over the years. So does breaking mean that in this context with GA4, are they actually going to have it return no data or an error, which would be at least useful. So if your Data Studio reports break, you can see and then maybe trace it back and think, oh, it’s probably because they’ve made these schema changes. If it does like it does with Universal Analytics and you know, it doesn’t give you a meaningful number, but does give you a number then you might not notice that in your Data Studio reports.

[00:12:01] Daniel: I’m actually hoping that it breaks and throws an error. And I’ve thought this in Universal too, because you’re quite right and this is where we’ve talked about this a number of times before, teaching someone how to use Universal Analytics is hard because you have to introduce scopes and teach them that there is no reference material that tells you which ones are going to break, which ones are going to work, but not give you what you want and which ones are going to work and give you what you want. You just have to get familiar and know what to look for. I really hope they don’t do that middle ground where it works, but does something different. I really hope it just breaks or gives you the correct answer because I think that is the biggest issue in terms of learning a product like this that I’ve actually found through kind of teaching this over the years. So although, yes, technically I’d love all reports to continue working, if it’s not doing what people expect them to do, I’d really hope that it just throws an error and says, be more specific in a sense, be more specific with what you want, because in a sense, Google can guess and try to guess what it is you mean but it’s a stupid machine and often gets that wrong.

[00:12:57] Dara: Yeah, I agree it would be better. I mean, it’d be better if they just didn’t do this. But the second best scenario would be that it at least it tells you that it’s broken and then you can go in and correct it by using compatible dimensions and metrics. The worst thing would be if it just changes the way the data works but you still get a number back and you don’t necessarily know if it’s right or wrong.

[00:13:16] Daniel: Well, exactly we won’t notice right. All right that’s the first breaking change, the second breaking change actually has caused a couple of discussions at Measurelab with us actually, and that specifically around attribution dimensions. Which, attribution dimensions like Source/Medium campaign are becoming incompatible with some event scope metrics like event count, they will still be, so that’s the attribution dimensions will still be compatible with attributable metrics like conversions, user based metrics like active users and session based metrics like sessions.

[00:13:45] Dara: Yeah, and some of the conversations that we’ve had have been because of the confusion between what the attribution dimensions are versus the, I’m going to call them session dimensions, but maybe that’s not the right terminology. But this is just to do with the attribution within GA4, which I have to admit, I’m still a little confused over because you’ve got this whole idea of, in theory at least, every event could have its own Source/Medium. So what the difference is between the session Source/Medium, individual event Source/Mediums, and then a conversion Source/Medium. I’m still a little confused I have to admit.

[00:14:20] Daniel: I think everyone is, and I think this is actually, you’re quite right there’s now three different types of Source/Mediums within GA4. You’ve got the attribution dimensions, which are the ones that are annoyingly just called Source, Medium, Campaign. You’ve got the Session Source, Session Medium and Session Campaign. And you’ve got the First User Source, First User Medium, and First User Campaign. And the way I think about this is, and it’s not exactly this, there’s a bit of nuance behind the definitions, but the way I like to explain this, to keep it quite simple. The first user dimensions, that’s first-click wins attribution, the session dimensions, the Session Source, Session Campaign, Session Medium, that’s last-click attribution. And the ones that just are Source, Medium and Campaign, that is the attribution model that you’ve set in the property settings within GA4, which it defaults to Data-Driven Attribution.

[00:15:07] Daniel: So when we are looking at the attribution dimensions and we’re looking at data driven attribution or another model that you’ve changed, that’s what we’re specifically talking about here. It means that those dimensions are now specifically for attribution. For me and you Dara and maybe the people listening, relating that to Universal Analytics, that’s the multi-channel funnel reports. So in a sense it’s saying, they’re kind of separate, even though we’ve called them something similar. And what we’re saying now is that you can use that in combination with things like sessions and users and conversions, and look at your attributed conversions and revenue. But what you can’t look at is things like event count, add to carts, checkouts, tax amount, or page views even. That’s the other thing page views or screen views. Just like in multi channel funnels and the core reporting in Universal Analytics the same kind of thing has been reported over to GA4. You’ve got your attribution set and you’ve got your kind of core set, those two things can’t be, you know, you can’t cross the streams as it were anymore.

[00:15:59] Dara: So strange because I just jumped down further in the documentation to have a look into this because where my mind started to go was, well maybe that’s not a problem as long as you can still use that data. So for example, like if you had all of your key conversions set up as conversions, then you could still get the attribution dimension data against that. But what about if you, you’re limited in how many conversions you can have, but if you were using like event name and you wanted event clicks against that for say a lot of different, say you were a B2B site with loads of different types of forms and you wanted to identify if they were all different and you wanted to count them all as different conversions, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be able to use attribution on top of that because you’d have to have all of those different variations marked as conversions, which you probably wouldn’t have. But then weirdly, I got slightly distracted because I saw the event value is compatible. So you can’t have event count, but you can have event value. That seems odd as well.

[00:16:55] Daniel: This is where it’s all very baked into, well least from my perspective, commerce or ecommerce. And if it’s to do with sales and revenue, it’s pretty much good as gold. Anything that’s not that, then it’s going to struggle with, and this is what actually was the same with Universal Analytics as well. Think of the whole Enhanced Ecommerce structure, took some crow barring to make it non ecommerce specific and I think this is the case here and I think just broadly on these changes and where GA4 is going, and it’s not something I’ve not said before on the podcast at least, and this is where if we think about what this tool is kind of doing for Google, it’s measuring advertising. And just kind of yes and no, did it convert? And if so, how much? It almost doesn’t need to know what specifically and the item level detail and all that crazy stuff to optimise your bids within Google Ads and DV360 and things like that. Of course it does and it helps and it helps us from a data perspective. But if we try and think of what does it need as a kind of MVP to do bid optimisation, then actually it’s sales, revenue. That’s pretty much it, right?

[00:17:49] Dara: My mind keeps jumping in places here because obviously this is firstly, it’s relatively new news, and secondly, there’s not a huge amount of context behind it so we’re kind of playing a guessing game, but I just wonder what is the case at the moment. So if you try to query event count against an attribution dimension at the moment in GA4, pre 1st of December 2022, what happens? Does it work? Is it correct? And it’s going to stop being correct, or it’s going to stop working? Or does it not work now and they’ve realised that, and this is actually changing it to say it’s not going to be compatible anymore. It might be something to test because I don’t know what’s actually changing on the 1st of December?

[00:18:29] Daniel: Well, we’ll find out on the 1st of December, right?

[00:18:32] Dara: If everything breaks, yeah.

[00:18:34] Daniel: Yeah and stays broken and breaks historically, we obviously can’t test until 1st of December, right? We just don’t know.

[00:18:39] Dara: I mean, we could probably look at a use case like that to see if it will even let you do that, I mean, I haven’t had a need to look at event count by attribution Source/Medium, but if we, you know, it’d be interesting to see if that’s possible and returns some data at the moment. Then the second question is, what happens with that same query post 1st of December?

[00:18:58] Daniel: Just to kind of back up on this a little bit, just because we’re saying this is a break in change and that’s if we’re using specifically event scope metrics with these attribution dimensions. Just to kind of remind us I suppose what it says in the text for that second point, but user scope metrics and session scope metrics will still be available. So if we wanted to look at things like sessions, bounces, engagement rates, as well as user based metrics, like active users, total users by campaign, by medium, that’s all still going to be there. It’s just the event level stuff, so I can imagine anything kind of down to the page basically. If you’re trying to get page level data out of an attribution machine, then that’s probably where it’s going to start hitting issues. But I suppose where it’s focusing on the attribution is attributing sessions and engagement like that. So I think if you’re staying sessions and above, you should be fine.

[00:19:41] Dara: Maybe we’ll never know, maybe we’ll never know for sure. It’s just the fact that those first two, they’re both restricting. The restriction granularity down to the event level, why would that be?

[00:19:51] Daniel: Well, at the moment we just don’t know right. Maybe we’ll just kind of glean some information every time they do a live presentation or something like that. We keep asking on the Q&A session and see if someone eventually slips.

[00:20:00] Dara: Maybe. So number three is a bit different, right? Slightly different to the first two.

[00:20:04] Daniel: Yeah, so number three, it comes with a bonus one, this one as well. So three A, dimensions that include the query string, like page path plus query string will only be compatible with a limited set of dimensions and metrics, and I kind of get this one actually. So Google Analytics in Universal Analytics tracked everything. It pulled the query string in as well, the whole thing was treated as the page path or the page URL, and there were features there to strip the query string within the settings, within the view settings. A lot of people turn to GTM and the implementation to kind of strip down the page URL to make it a bit more simple to digest and read and report on.

[00:20:37] Daniel: In GA4, there is a huge focus and issue on cardinality. So the more variable dimensions you have for something, the more it’s going to struggle to pull it out into a report. So what they’re trying to do here is make sure that if you want to include the query string, it’ll keep it, but actually the majority of the reporting they’re going to strip out automatically. So if you want to use the query string, the page path plus query string in your reports, you can, but it’s only going to be compatible with a certain number of dimensions and metrics. For example, date, event name, page title, page url, and then the metrics are going to be like event count, total users, total page views and screen views, total sessions and engaged sessions.

[00:21:14] Daniel: So that’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s actually enough. If I’m trying to do query string level reporting, that’s probably going to be enough. I can report users, sessions, pages and events by query string. But if you wanted to do anything beyond that, then that’s where it starts stripping them out by default, and that’s where it’s going to kind of less variation, easier storage, and easier processing from Google’s perspective.

[00:21:36] Dara: I’m just looking for what’s absent because with the other changes in this documentation it says what’s incompatible? And for this one, this third change with the query string parameters, it’s saying what’s compatible, just to keep us on our toes.

[00:21:49] Daniel: Maybe the other list was so much bigger, it was easier just to explain it this way around.

[00:21:53] Dara: This is about keeping the page short maybe yeah. But one of the things I’ve noticed, just a quick glance at it, is it doesn’t have device category. Maybe there might be a time where I want to look at query string data by device type. So I get what you’re saying about how this one maybe there’s an argument for this one, but I’m greedy and now I want to look at device type by query string parameters and I can’t, so I’m upset.

[00:22:15] Daniel: It does pose another kind of problem or question now, which is that if the default within Google Analytics 4 is to strip the page URL, how does it work? If, for example, you’ve got lots of different content based on query stream parameters. My brain instantly goes to things like search results pages, but actually thinking about quite a lot of different websites, they use a query stream to change the content quite dramatically on the page itself, and they won’t work the same. And aggregating it together is actually going to be meaningless. So either we go down the path of hacking and repurposing and renaming the page URL within GA4’s data so that we have unique combinations again. Alternatively what GA4 actually has started to do, it defaults to using things like page title, and maybe we use the page title as the predominant dimension. Or page title in combination with page URL or page path or stripped to page path now I suppose, to understand the kind of context of the page, so you’ve got page URL plus a bit of context based on the page title. So it could be the page title, could be, for example, contain the search term for a site search, whereas the page won’t because that will be all be in the query string parameter.

[00:23:19] Daniel: I don’t know, it’ll be interesting to see how the industry adapts to this and repurposes or what direction we go down really. Do we repurpose the page url? Or do we find a different way of getting the same kind of detail out again that we used to have?

[00:23:30] Daniel: Well, I did promise that was part A and there is a three B. I say three B, it’s actually just point 4 but in the document they just don’t include it as a point 4. At the end of the list of three items, they just say in addition, another change is happening. And it is 100% a fourth point. But the way I’m reading it, the way it’s presented, it feels like an extension of three, even though it’s nothing to do with it. And that is that they’re actually renaming six different dimensions in the API. So that means if you’ve got any code using and pulling data from the API, It’s going to break because they’re changing the names of six things, and this is all item level. So there’s definitely something going on behind the scenes that’s all item focused. But things like item list views is becoming item list view events and item list clicks are becoming item list click events.

[00:24:14] Daniel: And I think this is kind of what we were just discussing Dara where things like item list clicks and item list views and item views are actually event level, they’re not item level. So if you look at the API name currently, it’s called item views. You kind of assume that’s item level, but they’re renaming that item view events. And so that now tells me that they’re explicitly saying this is event level, which means they might be introducing an item level one at some point down the line, fingers crossed.

[00:24:39] Dara: Yeah, that is interesting, I missed that first time around but that does clarify it as an item view is an event level, event level scope. So it makes sense with its incompatibility with actual item level dimensions.

[00:24:52] Daniel: So yeah, there we go. There’s three plus a bonus breaking changes that are occurring in a couple of weeks as of the time of recording on the 1st of December, 2022. So there’s a couple of actions really that we need to start considering or taking. You can try and sort it out now and wait till the 1st of December and hope you fix it all. Or you can do probably the most likely version, which is wait to the 1st of December, see what breaks, and fix that. So there’s always going to be a bit of a tumultuous period in the first couple of days or weeks. Maybe it’s even just worth letting people that are using GA4 data know that things might be a bit rough and ready in the first couple of weeks in December.

[00:25:25] Daniel: There’s a couple of things to mind out for. So the first thing to know actually, if you’re using the GA4 UI out of the box, you don’t have to do anything. You know nothing in there’s going to change, you’re not going to notice anything. But where it’s going to start, or where you’ll start noticing potentially breaking changes and things that might need your input are things like creating custom reports within the reports library or creating custom explorations too. And as Dara mentioned before, like we’d actually don’t know if it’s going to throw an error or give you some duff data, right, or duff responses. So the one thing to note there is with your explorations, with your custom reports, it’s worth to keep an eye on those over the 1st of December just in case things start falling over.

[00:26:03] Dara: And finally, we kind of touched on this briefly earlier, but if you’re creating any customer reports using the Data API, then the, version one, then you’ll obviously need to update your code accordingly as well to make sure that you don’t have any issues there when it breaks, whatever break means.

[00:26:18] Daniel: Yeah, it’d be interesting to see if the Data Studio team do it on the day one as well, or if it’s just going to start breaking. It’d be interesting to see, because obviously Data Studio is using the Data API just like Tableau, Power BI and any other connector is. So it’d be interesting to see how quickly the actual Google team update their API connector compared to the other third parties.

[00:26:37] Dara: It depends whether they’ve read this article.

[00:26:40] Daniel: Well, let’s see, I would like to say, well it’s all Google, surely they know what’s going on, but I think we know better than anyone that their right hand doesn’t talk to their left hand.

[00:26:47] Dara: Yeah, and just one thing, you’re right in that, you know, probably what a lot of people will do is maybe wait until December the 1st. But I guess one thing you could do is review your dashboards or at least make a start on reviewing them to see if any of these affected dimensions and metrics are included. If you do have explorations, custom reports, Data Studio dashboards, but you’re not actually combining these affected dimensions and metrics, then equally you won’t have anything to do.

[00:27:12] Daniel: Awesome, and there is a bit of a cheat sheet that we can share in the show notes as well. There’s a cheat sheet for dimensions and metrics in the Data API, so what we do is we’ll share a link to that which gives you all of the combinations of dimensions, metrics. It gives you the API names, it gives you the scope, it gives you the UI name and all of the nuance like that. So I’ll put those two links basically, the article that we’re reading from and that we’re understanding and trying to figure out what to do on the 1st of December, and a little cheat sheet that should help us kind of migrate away from breaking changes.

Wind down

[00:27:41] Dara: Okay, lots more to come out in the woodwork, I guess with this one. But this might be something we come back to on The Measure Pod in a future episode, and we can see how accurate or inaccurate we were with our predictions and our assessment of things. So the bit you’re always looking forward to, what have you been doing aside from work? If anything since the last episode.

[00:28:00] Daniel: Well obviously Dara, there’s something. I have a very fulfilling life outside of work, it just doesn’t always come to mind that’s all. What have I done? So again, I’m going to cheat a little bit because it’s something that as of the time of recording, hasn’t happened yet, but it’s very much something I’ve been focusing on. So this week, it’s currently Monday, and this will come out on Friday. But between now and then, we will have attended and presented and done lots of things with the analytics conference down in Brighton called MeasureFest. So MeasureFest is this Wednesday, and then we’ve also got brightonSEO on the Thursday and Friday.

[00:28:31] Daniel: So we are there, if you’re listening to this on Friday morning and you happen to be at brightonSEO, give us a shout and we’ll be there and we can hook up for a coffee or a beer and talk about analytics stuff. But yeah, I’ve been in prep mode and planning mode, so we are sponsoring MeasureFest and we’ve got store there, and I’ve just had literally about half an hour before we recorded this Dara I got about 200 cans of kombucha and beer delivered, so that should be fun, come find us for some booch and beer. How about you Dara, what have you been doing this week?

[00:28:57] Dara: Well, you know, because I told you before we started recording and I’m going to call you out for mocking me. So I watched the London Marathon yesterday, not in person. I didn’t go up to London for it, but I watched it on the TV in the comfort of my living room. And when I told you earlier, you mocked me and said that’s not interesting, which I thought was very mean spirited, it is definitely interesting to me and to lots of other people. So once upon a time I ran a couple of marathons. I’m trying to do it again, but I love watching it as well. So I watched the men’s and the women’s races, they were both really interesting. They weren’t like incredibly fast times, but they were quite competitive and in both the men’s and the women’s, all of a sudden someone just broke away and then absolutely stormed it at the end. So I found it very exciting, very interesting, but I appreciate it’s maybe not something that everybody would enjoy. So that was my kind of highlight of the last couple of days.

[00:29:46] Daniel: I do believe it or not, understand. I mean I’m the guy that watches other people play video games online, right? And I’m sure you can’t understand that either, but I enjoy it.


[00:29:54] Dara: Yes, we all have our own interests. That’s it for this week, to hear more from me and Dan on GA4 and other analytics related topics, all our previous episodes are available in our archive at measurelab.co.uk/podcast. Or you can simply use whatever app you’re using right now to listen to this, to go back and listen to previous episode.

[00:30:15] Daniel: And if you want to suggest a topic for something me and Dara should be talking about, or if you want to suggest a guest who we should be talking to, there’s a Google Form in the show notes that you can fill out and leave us a note. Or alternatively, you can just email us at podcast@measurelab.co.uk to get in touch with us both directly.

[00:30:26] Dara: Our theme is from Confidential, you can find a link to their music in the show notes. So on behalf of Dan and I, thanks for listening. See you next time.

Written by

Daniel is the innovation and training lead at Measurelab - he is an analytics trainer, co-host of The Measure Pod analytics podcast, and overall fanatic. He loves getting stuck into all things GA4, and most recently with exploring app analytics via Firebase by building his own Android apps.

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