July 22, 2022
How to View Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics 4
Here’s a situation. You have implemented Google Analytics 4 on your website, and you started sending custom events. For example, events of successful form submissions. Together with that event, you are sending some custom parameter (e.g., a form name).
After waiting for 24 hours, you checked the reports, but you cannot see anything related to that parameter. Why is that?
In this blog post, I will explain how to view custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4 reports.
Custom parameters are not displayed in GA4 reports by default
This applies to any event parameter that you send to Google Analytics 4.
If you want to see/use them in things like Funnel exploration, Free Form, see their reporting cards in standard reports, etc., you must register custom parameters in the GA interface as custom dimensions.
Otherwise, they won’t be displayed.
If you have connected Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery, those custom parameters will be available there, but in this article, we are specifically talking about the GA4 native interface and reports.
How to register custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4
In Google Analytics 4, go to Configure > Custom Definitions.
Let’s say that I implemented menu bar click tracking on my website. Together with those clicks, I send menu_item_name and menu_item_url custom parameters. Now, I have to register them both.
Click the Create Custom Dimensions button and then enter:
- The name of the parameter. You can enter whatever you want. This is just how the dimension will be displayed in your reports. You can name it “menu_item_url”, “Menu item URL”, or anything else.
- Scope. Since we want to apply this parameter only to one event (and not to all events of the same user), we need to select Event.
- Event parameter. This is where you have to enter its name precisely as you entered it in the GTM tag. If your parameter name is menu_item_url, you must enter it here exactly like that. Don’t worry if the autocomplete feature of that field does not show your parameter yet. Just enter it and save the dimension.
Then register a second parameter (in my case, that was menu_item_name) and save it. By the way, I sometimes use the words “custom parameter” and “custom dimension” interchangeably. In general, custom metrics and custom dimensions are both grouped as custom parameters.
And now we wait. Within the next 24 hours, the custom parameters will start appearing in your Google Analytics 4 reports.
Where to find custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4 reports?
This blog post focuses mainly on the setup of custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4. I will not dive deep into how to find insights, raise questions, answer questions, etc. However, I can show you several places where you can find the dimensions you have just sent to Google Analytics 4.
If you want to learn more about getting insights with GA4, take a look at my online course.
Here are some of the reports where you can find custom dimensions:
- Configure > Events (this will show just the list of events with counts. Nothing fancy).
- Reports > Engagement > Events
- Explore (a.k.a. Exploration reports)
But that is not all. Since GA4 is an event-based analytics platform, every report is affected by events that you send (in one way or another). The aforementioned reports are just the most notable examples.
2.4.1. “Reports → Engagement → Events” report
This is an overview of all events that were sent to your property + a couple of charts. Below them, you will see a list of events, and if you click on any of them, you will take a closer look at that event’s data.
2.4.2. Explore (a.k.a. Exploration reports)
This is the place where you will be able to drill down into your data. In the Explorations, you will be able to use reports such as Free Form, Funnel Exploration, Path Exploration, etc.
Here is an example of a Free Form report. Keep in mind that you will need to wait for up to 24 hours for the data to come into your reports. So if you don’t see the data now, be patient.
Let’s say that I want to see how different device categories are interacting with the menu bar of my site. Let’s say that I have set up the menu_click event.
So, let’s go to Explore and click on the Free Form block.
Then in the Variables column, I need to include the menu_item_url custom dimension because I want to see how many clicks did get each menu URL. Click the Plus icon and then find the menu_item_url dimension. Select it, and it will be included in the list of possible dimensions in the report.
If you CANNOT see the menu_item_url (or whatever custom parameter you are looking for), you must register that custom parameter in Configure > Events > Manage Custom Definitions. And then wait for 24 hours until the data appears in the reports. If the reports don’t work properly, wait for even longer.
Historical data (that was collected before you registered a custom dimension) will not be displayed.
Now let’s edit the Tab settings. Remove the existing dimensions in the ROWS and include the custom definition that you want to include. In my case, that’s menu_item_url.
In the COLUMNS section, I used the Device category dimension. In the VALUES section, select the metric that you wish to see. I used the Event Count.
Then you will need to filter only to those events that actually contained the menu_item_url dimension. In my case, that is just a menu_click event. That’s why at the bottom of the Tab Settings section, you should enter a filter: Event name exactly matches menu_click.
That’s it, your report will now display how different device categories are clicking menu items; which ones are the most popular and how many times were they clicked.
Also, don’t forget to change the date range if you need it. You can do that in the top-left corner of the Exploration interface.
You can also use event data in things like funnel reports, but let’s keep it for another tutorial (hopefully) in the future.
View Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics 4: Final Words
And that’s it. Now you know how to view custom dimensions in Google Analytics 4. If you want to learn more about custom dimensions, take a look at this blog post too (it also contains a video).
If you want to learn more about Google Analytics 4 and how to get insights from it, take a look at my online GA4 course.