Understanding Data Filters in Google Analytics 4

Published: 14 July 2023

Understanding Data Filters in Google Analytics 4

Ready to dive into the world of data analytics but not sure where to start? Google Analytics 4 is your new best friend. It is Google’s latest analytics gem, and it is packed with features designed to make your data more understandable and easier to navigate. And once you learn how to use GA4 filters, you are going to feel like a data superstar!

Table of Contents:

  1. Let’s Talk about Filters – What Are They All About?
  2. Limitations and Requirements
  3. The Different Types of GA4 Data Filters
  4. Understanding Data Filter Operations in GA4
  5. Understanding Filter States in GA4
  6. Frequently Asked Questions About GA4 Filters
  7. Wrapping Things Up

Let’s Talk about Filters – What Are They All About?

First of all, let’s get to know these data filters we are so excited about. You see, when you are swimming in a sea of data, filters are your lifebuoys. They help you separate useful data from the noise. In GA4, data filters do just that. They allow you to exclude, include, or change specific data in your reports, making them clearer and more relevant to your needs.

GA4 filters do not impact your historical data. Once you apply a data filter, its effect on your GA4 data cannot be reversed. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 property comes with only one reporting property. Therefore, it is better to create and use another GA4 property to test your data filters before you apply them to your live property.

GA4 data filters

Limitations and Requirements

Setting up data filters in Google Analytics 4 requires technical skills.

  • You must have at least editor access to the property
  • You can filter with IPv4 or IPv6 addresses
  • Regular expressions are not supported
  • You must use CIDR notation to exclude ranges of IP addresses
  • A GA4 property can contain a maximum of 10 data filters

The Different Types of GA4 Data Filters

The two most common types of data filters in GA4 are developer traffic data filters and internal traffic data filters.

  1. Developer traffic data filters

    Think of these as your magic glasses that filter out the traffic data generated by developers while they’re testing your website or app. With these filters, you get to see the real picture of your user interactions, not skewed by developer traffic. If you exclude developer traffic using this filter, you will not see that data in real-time reporting. However, you can see this excluded traffic in the DebugView report and validate your implementation using the Google Analytics Debugger chrome extension.

  2. Internal traffic data filters

    These filters act like gatekeepers, keeping your own visits to your website or app from blending in with genuine customer data. By filtering out internal traffic, these filters make sure your data stays clean and authentic. Internal traffic can also include the traffic generated by developers. However, to exclude it, we use the “developer traffic” and “not the internal traffic” data filter.

Types of GA4 data filters

Every GA4 property comes with a default built-in internal traffic data filter. However, this filter needs to be configured and activated before it can be used.

Default data filters GA4

As you can see, the current internal traffic data filter is testing. This means that the filter is not active yet. By default, GA4 defines internal traffic as the event data with the parameter name “traffic type” and parameter value “internal”.

Internal traffic type

You cannot change the parameter name, only the parameter value, if you want to create two or more internal traffic filters.

Edit data filter

Understanding Data Filter Operations in GA4

Now, let’s say a few words about data filter operations. They define how the data is changed or manipulated when a filter is applied. In Google Analytics 4, data filters can be classified into exclude and include filters depending on the operation used.

In GA4, you can do two types of operations with data filters:

  1. Exclude: When you use this option, GA4 will not process any event data that matches the filter
  2. Exclude operation

    Exclude operation details

  3. Include only: When you use this option, GA4 will process only that event data that matches the filter
  4. Include operation

Note that if you include both include and exclude filters, the include filter will be evaluated first before the exclude filter. If you add multiple include filters, all these filters will be evaluated as a single group. And if you apply multiple exclude filters, each will be evaluated one at a time.

Understanding Filter States in GA4

In GA4, every data filter has one of the three states:

  • Testing
  • Active
  • Inactive

GA4 filter states

Let’s view each of them in detail.

1. Testing state

You can use this option if you want to first test your filter before activating it. When your data filter is in a testing state, GA4 evaluates it, but it does not make any changes to your analytics data. However, you can see the filtered data by adding a comparison to your GA4 report with the dimension name “Test data filter name”:

2. Active state

You can use this option if you want to make your data filter live. Once your data filter is active, it permanently changes your analytics data.

3. Inactive state

You can use this option if you want to disable your data filter. And once your data filter is inactive, it is not evaluated by GA4 and no longer makes permanent changes to your analytics data.

Frequently Asked Questions About GA4 Filters

Before we part ways, let’s tackle some of the most commonly asked questions about GA4 filters.

  1. What are GA4 filters?

    GA4 filters are a way to exclude or include specific data from your Google Analytics 4 reports. This can be helpful for cleaning up your data, removing noise, or focusing on specific segments of your audience.

  2. How do I create a GA4 filter?

    To create a GA4 filter, you will need to go to the Admin section of your GA4 property and click on Data Streams. Then, click on the name of the data stream that you want to create a filter for. Finally, click on Filters and then Create filter.

  3. How do I check my GA4 filters?

    To check your GA4 filters, you can go to the Admin section of your GA4 property and click on Data Streams. Then, click on the data stream name you want to check the filters for. Finally, click on Filters.

  4. What are some best practices for using GA4 filters?

    Here are some best practices for using GA4 filters:

    • Use clear and descriptive names for your filters
    • Test your filters before you publish them
    • Use clear and descriptive names for your filters

Wrapping Things Up

With GA4 filters in your arsenal, you are well on your way to navigating data analytics. But before you start digging into the data, it is important to ask the right questions. What do you want to know? What are you trying to achieve? Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can use filters to narrow down the data and identify the insights that matter most to you.

Of course, data analytics can be complex. If you are unsure where to start or need help interpreting the data, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts can guide you through the process and help you to get the most out of your data.

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