December 9, 2022
Missing Demographic Data in Google Analytics 4? Here are the reasons
Google Analytics 4 reports have a section called Demographics that provides insights into your audiences, such as their age or gender.
But it’s pretty common (especially among GA4 beginners) that those reports have no data. Why? Let me explain.
In this article, we’ll explore possible reasons why you have missing demographic data in Google Analytics 4 and what can be done to fix the issues.
Where is the Demographic data coming from?
First, let’s learn about the source of that data. It’s coming from Google Signals, which is a feature in Google Analytics 4 that enables the tracking of users across devices and platforms.
When enabled, Google Signals collects data from users who have signed in to a Google account and have enabled the feature in their Google Account settings. This data is then used to provide insights into your audience’s demographics, interests, and other characteristics. You can learn more about it here.
By default, Signals are disabled. Hence the first potential reason you’re missing the data is…
#1. Google Signals are not enabled
Go to Admin of your GA4 property > Data Settings > Data Collection. If you see the “Get started” button in the Enable Google signals data collection section, Google Signals are not enabled.
If that’s your case, DON’T rush to enable it yet.
First, get familiar with the risks of using signals. Read this article to learn more.
Still want to enable it? Then click Get Started and complete all the steps as I have explained them here. If limitations (thresholds) caused by Google Signals are a severe blocker, don’t enable it. But then you won’t have the demographic data.
Google Signals is a must for the demographic data to appear in your reports.
#2. You have installed Google Analytics 4 server-side
If you have installed GA4 with server-side GTM, then Google Signals (and thus, Demographics reports) will not work. This is mentioned in Google’s documentation too.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do now about it. It’s either GA4 + server-side tagging (without demographic data) or GA4 with demographic data (but without server-side setup). The choice is yours.
#3. You waited not long enough
Google Analytics 4 is “famous” for longer details (than GA3) regarding data freshness in reports. It’s now normal to see data 24-48 hours after it was collected.
For demographics data, it might take even more. So if you have recently enabled the feature, wait longer. But if it’s been a week or more, something else is probably causing the issue of missing demographic data in Google Analytics 4. So keep reading.
#4. Your website does not get enough traffic
I don’t know the exact numbers of what is “enough traffic” for GA. But if your Google Analytics 4 is installed on a small website with, say, 100 weekly visitors, demographics reports will probably not work for you.
The only solution here is to forget demographics reports for now and focus on other things that matter, for example, growing your website so that it would get more traffic.
#5. allow_google_signals parameter in the code/tags
Even though you can enable Google Signals in the settings of a Google Analytics 4 property, you can also programmatically control them in Google Tag Manager or website code.
This means that if a visitor does not want to be tracked by your analytics, Google Signals will not be activated for that user.
This can be done with a parameter allow_google_signals (see the documentation). If parameter’s value is true, Google Signals remain activated for that visitor. If its value is false, Signals get disabled for that particular user.
If you have installed GA4 with Google Tag Manager, check the GA4 configuration tag. Maybe you will find allow_google_signals there?
If yes, use the preview mode and check what the value of that variable is. Maybe it’s always false (even though it shouldn’t be) and this keeps the Signals disabled?
The same applies to Google Analytics’ native tracking code, gtag. If you see something like that in the code…
… this might be why you’re missing demographic data in Google Analytics 4.
How to fix it? It depends on how this is configured on your website. So it’s difficult for me to provide the exact steps.
In a nutshell, you have to ensure that the allow_google_signals value is false only when a visitor rejects tracking on your website (e.g. via a consent popup). Or maybe a visitor is from a region where your company’s legal team does not want to use Google Signals.
#6. Only part of the demographic data is missing?
What if your situation is a bit different? For example, you have 40 000 monthly visitors, but when you look at the gender data, most users are marked as unknown.
Actually, that’s normal. Remember where this demographic data is coming from.
Interests, age, and gender can be obtained from your visitors’ Google Accounts. If those visitors have enabled Ad Personalization in their Google Accounts, Google can use their anonymized data and enrich your GA reports.
- If your website visitor does not have a Google Account, demographic data is not available.
- Maybe a visitor does have a Google Account but is currently not logged in. Then data is not available.
- Or maybe a visitor has disabled Ad personalization in their Google Account. Again, data is not available.
Therefore, it’s normal that a large chunk of the demographic data is missing. Don’t look for accuracy here. Look for trends and patterns.
In this blog post, we discussed six reasons why demographic data may be missing from Google Analytics 4 reports and what you can do to fix the issues (if that’s possible, of course).
Once you fixed the issue, remember: demographic data is not retroactive. It won’t fill in the gaps from the past when you were not collecting that data.