Do you like the native reports in Google Analytics 4? This platform offers standard and exploration reports that are supposed to satisfy the needs of any marketer. The former should provide a quick overview of the most important events, while the latter should uncover details that the standard reports don’t.
In practice, the GA4 pre-built reports are good for new users, whereas, experienced marketers tend to have a customized reporting solution. As a rule, this is a dashboard or report created in an external BI tool like Power BI. It’s bespoke, easily shareable, and meets all the requirements to ensure efficient data tracking. To build one, you only need to pull data from GA4…not just pull but mostly to connect GA4 to Power BI which provides automated data flow.
To learn more about how you can do this, read this comprehensive guide that covers all the connection methods available.
What are the options to connect GA4 to Power BI
You can connect GA4 to Power BI in two ways:
- Using a native built-in connector
This is a simple yet actionable method to pull data from GA4 to Power BI without much hassle. The connector was initially developed for Google Universal Analytics. However, its 2.0 (beta) version allows you to connect to the new Google Analytics Data API with support for Google Analytics 4.
- Using a third-party connector
Integrating GA4 and Power BI with an external solution is more actionable and reliable than the native method. As a rule, this connection is associated with a bunch of useful features and functionalities like a data refresh schedule, support for different import modes, the ability to pull data from other sources, and so on.
Let’s start our guide with the third-party option featured by Coupler.io. Why so? Well, this method is faster and more user-friendly. It only takes around 2 minutes to connect GA4 to Power BI without any coding or complex setup. There we go!
How to connect GA4 to Power BI with Coupler.io
Coupler.io is a data automation and analytics platform. It provides plenty of custom connectors (we call them importers) designed to streamline reporting and analytics. Power BI is one of the destinations supported. Others include Looker Studio, Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Google BigQuery.
To connect GA4 to Power BI, you need to create a Coupler.io account. You can do this using your Microsoft account. Then click Add new importer and select source and destination apps: GA 4 and Power BI.
Step 1. Extract data from GA4
- Connect your Google account. Then select one of the Analytics accounts and properties available in your source account.
- Choose GA4 metrics and dimensions to load to Power BI. You can select up to 10 metrics and up to 9 dimensions from the drop-down lists. Optionally, you can specify the start/end dates for the data and add a separate row with the total, maximum, and/or minimum values of the selected metric.
For this example, I selected the following set of metrics and dimensions for the one-month period:
Average session duration
Session conversion rate
Views per session
Views per user
Note: If you need to load more than 10 metrics or 9 dimensions, you can add one more GA4 source and merge data. Coupler.io allows you to add multiple sources, be it the same or another GA4 property, or even data from other apps like Google Ads, Calendly, etc.
Step 2. Transform data before loading it to Power BI
This step is familiar to Power BI users who load data from external sources. Actually, Power BI offers pretty much the same functionality – you can preview and transform data before loading it. With Coupler.io, you can use the following transformations:
- Manage columns – hide, rename, and reorder columns, and assign/change their data type.
- Add new columns using supported calculation formulas.
- Sort and filter data based on the selected criteria and specified value.
Step 3. Manage data in Power BI
The final step is to actually load the data from GA4 to Power BI. Follow the instructions in the wizard which says:
- Save and Run the importer.
- Copy the Power BI integration URL.
- Open Power BI desktop. Select Get data => from Web and insert the integration URL.
In a few moments, your GA4 data will open in the Power Query Editor.
You can make any transformations on the Power BI side if needed. After that click Close & Apply to load your dataset to Power BI.
Oh, my bad! I forgot to remind you about the Automatic data refresh – the crucial feature to complete the GA4 to Power BI connection. You can enable it right after the run of your importer and configure the desired schedule which allows you to refresh data close to real-time – every 15 minutes.
With this feature enabled, the GA4 data in Power BI will always be up-to-date.
How to use the Google Analytics 4 data in Power BI Service?
What if you want to use this data model in Power BI Service? In this case, you only need to publish it. Here’s how:
- In the Power BI desktop, click Publish. The alternative path is File => Publish.
- Select a destination workspace.
There you go!
From this moment, your dataset will be available on the Power BI service.
This is what the connector by Coupler.io looks like:
- Simple and intuitive UI
- Reliable connection
- Availability of other data sources
- Changeable import mode
- Automatic data refresh
- And many other features
Despite all these benefits, you can still count on the built-in Google Analytics connector available in Power BI. Let’s check it out as well.
The native method to connect GA4 to Power BI
The first thing to learn is that Power BI provides a Google Analytics connector, which was designed for the GA Universal. With the release of GA4, the connector was expanded with a 2.0 (beta) version that supports GA4. As the name beta implies, it’s still under development, and we should expect a better version in the near future. We are where we are. So, how does it work?
- Go to Get data => More options, and type in ‘google analytics‘ in the search bar. You’ll see the connector.
- Click Connect and then proceed to the choice of implementation (version): 1.0 for GA Universal and 2.0 (beta) for GA4.
- You’ll need to sign in to your Google Analytics account and provide access to Power BI. Eventually, you’ll see a Navigator window where you can choose between the GA4 properties and select metrics & dimensions. You can also use the search bar to find the required metrics/dimensions.
For this example, we’ve selected the same set of GA4 metrics & dimensions that we’ve had with the Coupler.io connector. However, their names are the same as they are at Google Analytics API. For example, views are referred to as pageviews.
If you click Transform data, you’ll get a Power Query Editor open to prepare your GA4 data before loading it to Power BI. If you don’t need this, click Load. It takes some time for Power BI to load your data from GA4… or lots of time.
What is wrong with the native Google Analytics 4 connector in Power BI?
Since it’s a beta implementation of this connector, you should be ready for glitches, unreliable work, and other flaws.
The first thing to mention is that the Google Analytics connector misses start/end date parameters. By default, it loads records for all time. In my case, the loading from GA4 to Power BI took more than 10 minutes, and it was still not finished so I canceled the loading.
It turned out that you can still specify the date range. This can be done at the stage of data transformation using the Advanced Query Editor. However, it’s not as easy as simply selecting dates in the Coupler.io UI.
Another thing that you won’t like is the data refresh. You can’t schedule refresh on the Power BI desktop, only manual refresh is available. At the same time, you can schedule refresh in the Power BI service. However, the refresh frequency is limited to daily and weekly. For this, you’ll need to publish your GA4 dataset as we described above.
The benefits of GA4 data analysis in Power BI or another data visualization tool
Power BI is definitely a powerful solution for data visualization and reporting. At the same time, you should not limit yourself to this option. You can consider other tools like Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio) or Tableau to achieve your goals. Besides, some of them even provide ready-to-use templates for GA4 data visualization, for example, this Web Analytics dashboard designed by Coupler.io.
Whichever BI solution you choose, you’ll be able to obtain the following benefits:
- Advanced data visualization – you can represent your data in many ways and forms, not to mention the use of color palettes, fonts, backgrounds, and other elements of visual perception.
- Integration with other sources – Power BI, Looker Studio, and other BI tools allow you to integrate GA4 data with information from other sources, be it CRM apps, marketing platforms, financial software, and so on.
- Advanced calculations – you can create custom metrics using the calculation capabilities of Power BI.
- Hassle-free collaboration – you can share your reports in Power BI with stakeholders to make collective decisions powered by data.
- Templates – you can use or create templatized dashboards to cover your reporting needs.
- Alerts and notifications – you can set alerts based on specific criteria or triggers to react promptly to important changes or trends.
- Interactive exploration – you can make your reports in Power BI or another visualization tool interactive. This will enable stakeholders to explore data, drill down into details, and derive insights faster.
Overall, GA4 data analysis in Power BI or another data visualization tool can be a valuable asset for businesses of all sizes. Custom reporting will provide you with a deeper understanding of your data to make smart decisions and implement optimization in different areas.
Which method to choose to integrate GA4 and Power BI?
Overall, I did not enjoy the experience of using the built-in Google Analytics connector. And I’m pretty sure that you would not as well. I hope that the Microsoft team is working on upgrading their connector and most likely we will see a better version of it. However, now, it’s better to opt for a third-party GA4 Power BI connector.
Coupler.io is one of the options you can consider when looking for Power BI integrations. Of course, there are competitors that allow you to connect GA4 to Power BI in the same manner. You are free to check them out. At the same time, I bet you’ll get back to Coupler.io to automate your GA4 reporting in Power BI. Good luck!
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