Data Thresholding in GA4 - What Is It and What You Can Do About It?

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | May 2023

A person reviewing website data behind a chain and lock.

By now, you've probably heard that Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. If this is news to you, check out this article

Over the last year-plus, we've been migrating clients from Universal Analytics to GA4. 

Unfortunately, GA4 has a steep learning curve, and it's not very intuitive for novice users. If you’re curious and want to learn more about GA4, check out the resources at the end of this article.

One issue that continues to come up is data thresholding. This post covers what data thresholding is, why it's an issue, and what you can do about it. 

Before we get to data thresholding, let's first look at how Google Signals collects demographic data.

Google Signals is a feature within Google Analytics that gives insight into the behavior of users across devices and platforms. Google Signals uses cross-device reporting to identify when a user visits your website from different devices or browsers and aggregates that data into a single user profile.
Find Google signals by clicking on the gear in the lower left corner, then click data collection.

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How is Google Signals Used?

Google Signals can help you gain deeper insights into your audience and optimize efforts across devices and platforms. According to Google, these insights can help you create effective campaigns and improve website performance.

Here are a couple of ways you can use Google Signals:

  1. Remarketing: Using Google Signals, you can create campaigns that target previous visitors. Remarketing campaigns help you reach users who have engaged with your site on one device and encourage them to convert on another.
  2. Enhanced Demographics and Interests Reports: Google Signals creates reports using the data collected from users' accounts. This helps you better understand your audience and create more targeted marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out earlier, Google Signals doesn't come without a cost. One issue that we've encountered is data thresholding. 

Learn about our marketing strategy services.

What is Data Thresholding?

Google Analytics applies data thresholding to reports that contain personally-identifiable information (PII), such as demographics, interests and location. When the number of unique users falls below a certain threshold, the data is aggregated and displayed as a range.

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Suppose you have a report on the gender of website visitors and there are only ten female visitors in a given period. The thresholded data may display a range, such as "1-10" female visitors. Thresholding protects the privacy of individual users while still allowing you to see data trends.

What Can You Do if You Get a Data Thresholding Warning?

Suppose you see the dreaded data thresholding warning in your Google Analytics account. In that case, it means that the report contains data thresholded by Google Analytics.

To address a data thresholding warning, you have a few options:

  1. Adjust the date range. One way to address a data thresholding warning is to adjust the date range for the report. By expanding the date range, you can include more data and avoid triggering the warning.
  2. Increase the threshold level. Increase the threshold level to see more granular data. But, increasing the threshold level can also increase the risk of exposing PII, so be careful when adjusting this setting.
  3. Use aggregated data. If you still see a warning after adjusting the date range and threshold level, use the aggregated data provided in the report. Aggregated data displays as a range of values, such as "1-10" instead of a specific number.
  4. Use a different report. If you can't view data due to thresholding, consider a different report that does not contain PII. For example, you may be able to use a report on traffic sources or landing pages instead of one on demographics.
  5. Turn off Google Signals. Only consider this solution if you need to see your data without any thresholding. This will affect demographic reports and the ability to create remarketing lists.

GA4 Resources

LovesData on Youtube - Loves Data is all about getting the most out of your data.

MeasureSchool on Youtube - MeasureSchool teaches you the data-driven way of digital Marketing with tutorials on Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics 4, Google Data Studio, and more.

AnalyticsMania on Youtube - Learn Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics faster with Analytics Mania.

If you need help migrating to GA4 or making sense of your data, contact us today. 

Topics: Digital Marketing