Now that Google has sunset Universal Analytics, marketing professionals across the country have had to learn all the differences between UA and GA4. The problem with this process is that navigating Google’s latest website tracking platform can be both exciting and perplexing.
GA4’s new changes led to a steep learning curve for new users and experienced marketers alike. Data thresholding is one such mystery that has caused issues for people who don’t understand how it works and how it affects their data. Let’s break down some of the more common questions around data thresholding so that you can understand what it means and make more informed decisions about your business’ analytics.
What is Data Thresholding?
Data thresholding is something implemented in GA4 to protect the privacy of site visitors. It selectively restricts certain data from being displayed in reports to prevent the identification of individual users based on demographics, interests, or other data signals.
Google applies data thresholds to ensure that users cannot infer the identity of specific individuals when viewing GA4 data. This threshold is usually activated when the user count is too low in a report or during data exploration. Data thresholding becomes particularly relevant when you enable a feature called Google Signals, which provides demographic information and allows you to collect user data across multiple devices.
Why Do We Care About Google Signals?
Google Signals enables the tracking of users across devices and platforms. When enabled, Google Signals collects data from users who have signed into a Google account and have enabled the feature in their Google Account settings. This data includes:
- Device ID: The unique identifier for the device that the user is using.
- User ID: The unique identifier for the user if the user has signed in to a Google account.
- Session data: Data about the user’s interactions with your website or app, such as the pages they visited, the actions they took, and the time they spent on your site.
Once collected, you can then use this data to provide insights into your audience’s demographics, interests, and other characteristics. This data also allows you to:
- Track user journeys across devices and platforms.
- Reuse Google Analytics audiences as retargeting audiences in Google Ads.
- Create more targeted audiences.
When Does Data Thresholding Occur?
Data thresholding becomes active when the number of unique users falls below a certain number. We’ve noticed through our own work that thresholding typically occurs when counts drop below 40 to 50 hits.
How Does Data Thresholding Affect Reporting?
While data thresholding is designed to protect visitors’ privacy, it does pose some problems for marketers trying to analyze their site’s data. Thresholding directly impacts reporting for websites with small volumes of traffic or when tracking low-frequency events. For example, Google warns that your data may be limited to inexact ranges or withheld altogether if your data set doesn’t have enough users.
Should I Disable Google Signals?
Despite the data thresholding, we recommend keeping Google Signals enabled. Google Signals does present new opportunities in GA4 that weren’t available before – you just need to know how to use it. Here are some of the reasons we suggest keeping Google Signals enables for your sites:
- Enhanced demographics like country, city, gender, language, interests, and age of your website visitors in your reporting
- The ability to reuse analytics audiences in Google Ads for retargeting.
- Better cross-platform tracking. Google Signals can help you to track users across multiple devices and platforms. This can be helpful for understanding how users interact with your content and products across different devices.
- Improved accuracy and effectiveness of audience building.
- Increased reach. Google Signals can help you reach more users with your marketing campaigns by allowing you to target users across multiple devices and platforms.
- Improved targeting. Google Signals can help you target your marketing campaigns more effectively by providing more data about your users, such as their demographics, interests, and device type.
- Increased ROI. Google Signals can help you increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns by helping you reach more relevant users and target them more effectively.
How Can I Make the Most Out of GA4?
Your data is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal, but it’s hard to use if you don’t know how to navigate GA4. It’s important to dig into your audience’s demographics, interests, and other characteristics. Analytics mania has a good breakdown of demographic reports to help you start your journey to GA4 mastery.
Of course, mastering analytics isn’t quite as easy as reading a few articles. It takes time and a lot of hands-on work to turn a massive data dump into meaningful analysis – something that a good digital marketing agency can do. Ready to start embracing GA4 and your data? Reach out to us today to talk to one of our experts and see if we’re a good fit for your business.