Unlocking User Data for Enhanced Analytics in GA4

14th Jun 2024

4 Minutes Read

By Abhishek Tiwari

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers a new feature in open beta: User-provided data collection. This feature allows you to send your website's consented, first-party data directly to GA4, enhancing measurement accuracy and unlocking valuable functionalities.

What are the benefits?

  • Third-party cookie independence: User-provided data collection prepares your analytics setup for the eventual deprecation of third-party cookies.
  • Enhanced capabilities: This feature unlocks features like enhanced conversions and demographics & interests reporting.

Before you implement:

  • Link your GA4 property to your Google Ads account.
  • Acknowledge the user-provided data feature policy. This has permanent implications, so be sure to review them carefully:
  • Limited support for app data streams (use on-device measurement for iOS campaigns instead).
  • Data accuracy improvements for conversions and attribution take a month to reflect in reports.
  • Audience membership may decrease due to separation of signed-in and signed-out user data. This can impact remarketing across devices (partially mitigated by Google signals).
  • User IDs are not currently available in BigQuery exports with user-provided data collection enabled (support coming later in open beta).
  • Demographics and interest data will shift from cookie/device identifiers to user-provided data from signed-in users.

How to activate user-provided data collection:

  1. In your GA4 property settings, navigate to Admin > Data collection and modification > Data collection.

  1. Toggle on User-provided data collection.

  1. Choose your collection method:
  • gtag.js: Make slight adjustments to your gtag.js configuration.
  • Google Tag Manager: Update your container with variables to collect user-provided data.
  • Measurement Protocol: For offline interactions, set up collection using Measurement Protocol.

Understanding User-provided data vs. User-ID:

  • User-provided data can be used independently or alongside the User-ID feature (which uses your unique user identifiers).
  • Ecommerce sites can benefit from implementing both for the most accurate user reporting.
  • When sending user-provided data without User IDs, GA4 pseudonymizes the data for user deduplication and reporting. Email is the most effective single field to send, but phone number and address can also improve matching.

Disabling user-provided data collection:

  • Toggle off User-provided data collection in Admin settings or your tagging implementation.
  • If using Measurement Protocol, update your implementation to stop sending user-provided data.
  • To stop using the feature in reporting but keep sending data, disable Blended reporting in Reporting Identity settings.

By implementing user-provided data collection, you can ensure your website analytics are future-proofed and leverage valuable new features in GA4. Remember to carefully consider the policy implications before activating this feature.