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  • Transferring UA Segments to GA4: How can I recreate these filter settings?

    Posted by William on 5 January 2023 at 7:09 pm

    Hey folks, I’ve got an issue I could use some help with. I’m currently using Google Analytics data via FiveTran to Redshift, but I need to switch it over to GA4. The way it works now is by creating ‘Segments’ in Universal Analytics (UA) and then layering them in one big “Valid Visitors” segment. I then ask FiveTran to import three reports with these segments and all my users broken down – which works okay.

    So what do we do exactly?
    -We use a filter for a time on page of 0 or higher.
    -We use GA’s editor to define a Segment that:
    -Excludes anyone from a Region that match a long string as spam using a Regular Expression
    -Excludes anyone who seems like a new user but clicks on the Login link in the same session
    -Excludes anyone who uses a specific URL Builder tool
    I’ve linked an image to show you what it looks like [link]

    Here’s the problem: Now that we’re switching to GA4, I’m noticing some significant differences. Where UA bases its data on sessions and page views, GA4 seems to be entirely event-based. I also haven’t found segments (at least in terms that can be used when running reports with an API like FiveTran does with UA). Moreover, when I try to do a custom report via the API, I can’t seem to find a way to get the data I want alongside the filters I need – the metrics my users want.

    I happened to hear from a Fivetran contact that there may be a feature request for something like this – they mentioned something about ‘Funnel Reports’? [link]

    As I see it, I might need to export GA4 data to Big Query, import it back to RedShift, and work with it from there. But this seems like a complicated way around what we’re doing currently, and I can’t help but feel there’s got to be a simpler approach without resorting to such raw data processing.

    Bear in mind, I’m more of a SQL guy than GA, and I find myself struggling to even construct a report in the GA4 interface that replicates what I’ve thus far managed with Segments in UA.

    So here’s my question: Is there a way to accomplish this in standard GA4 reporting that I’m missing, or will I have to go down the Big Query route and build everything back up manually? Anyone got any tips? I’d really appreciate the help!

    Joseph replied 11 months, 2 weeks ago 3 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Mia

    20 June 2023 at 8:32 am

    You’re correct that GA4 is fundamentally different from Universal Analytics (UA). While UA is primarily session-based, GA4 is structured around event-based data, which changes how filtering and segmenting work. Unfortunately, as of now, GA4 does not have a direct substitute for UA’s segment feature that you use extensively. While it does have a feature known as ‘Audiences’, this doesn’t yet have the same level of flexibility and depth as UA’s segments especially when used in conjunction with APIs like in your case.

    Your idea about exporting GA4 data into BigQuery is a good one. In fact, this is one of the direct benefits of GA4 over UA since it allows seamless integration with BigQuery. So, you’ll essentially be pulling your GA4 data directly into BigQuery, and then from there you can use FiveTran to move the data to RedShift. It seems like the segmentation and data manipulation operations could be then handled via SQL in RedShift (which aligns more closely with your strengths) rather than fighting with GA4’s limitations.

    Given the current limitations of GA4, it’s difficult to envision achieving similar effectiveness with GA4’s built-in dashboard capabilities by themselves which are significantly different from UA. Therefore, it seems the BigQuery method would not only resolve your immediate problem, but it would provide greater flexibility and scalability moving forward in terms of dealing with raw event data. While it may seem a bit more complicated initially, the increased control over data might offset this.

  • Joseph

    29 June 2023 at 6:45 am

    At this point, although GA4 brings a lot of changes to analytics particularly on the event-centric approach, it is still developing and lacks the segmentation provision that we had in UA. As a result, you might have to go the Big Query route. However, you’d better watch this space as GA4 is continuously being updated and might introduce a more straightforward approach soon. Meanwhile, could be worth diving deeper into the GA4’s reporting interface and see how far you can go.

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