Chances are you’ve come across Google Analytics (also referred to as Universal Analytics) in the past. The great thing about this tool is that it has a range of ready-made reports and insights that are easy to look into.
If we look at working in Google Data Studio, then again, it’s a very simple matter where you plug in a selected data report in 2 clicks and can very easily replicate familiar reports directly from the tool, or invent completely new ones, using a huge variety of different metrics and dimensions.
Recently, Google launched a new tool called Google Analytics 4 (hereafter referred to as GA4). You can read how this tool works in our article What is GA4 and how to think about GA4 property?.
But what about visualizing data from GA4?
A fairly significant change in Google Analytics 4 is that you won’t find virtually any of the “cool” reports you’re used to. To clarify – there are a few reports in the tool, of course, while you can create some directly in the tool, but they still probably won’t satisfy you in your search for the information you need.
There is a possibility to use the visualization tool Google Data Studio (hereinafter referred to as GDS) and create a nice customized report. You can do that, of course, but it’s not as easy as you might expect. Along with the arrival of GA4 came the ability to directly connect data using a common connector to GDS. Using this connector is the first and easier way to visualize the GA4 data, but it comes with some limitations.
Google is constantly upgrading the GDS connector, so you’ll currently find a large number of calculated metrics and dimensions in it that you’ll know from the old GA, or that at least resemble them. Due to the principles of the new GA4, which use a large number of so-called “Custom Dimensions” that you define yourself when implementing the tool, you will always be limited in the possibilities and detail of your visualizations. However, you are able to prepare a fairly decent full-featured report that will help you a lot to get started.
However, you may encounter the biggest limitation and that is the fact that some parts of the data are not yet found in the connector at all. For example, metrics and dimensions related to products and their performance. If you want to visualize this data nicely, you have no choice but to reach for the second option that is offered.
A very interesting feature brought by GA4 is the ability to “pour” clean data from GA4 into Google Big Query for free, where you can work with it further. However, this clean, “raw” data has one big disadvantage. You won’t find the sexy and cool metrics and dimensions you’re used to in them, but you have to create them yourself. So without basic knowledge of SQL queries, you are not able to work with the data. Then, in Google Data Studio itself, you’ll find a connector directly into Big Query from which you can pull and visualize the data.
The big advantage of the second visualization option is that you can completely extract all the information you want and need from the clean “raw” data and do any calculations or transformations over it. In contrast, the downside is that without knowledge of Big Query, the SQL database language, and advanced technical knowledge, you can’t make a move. In this case, we recommend taking help of specialists who are intensively engaged in such field and will create a customized report for you, such as this one: