Google Analytics BigQuery Integration Overview

Google Analytics Premium has a feature that enables you to export raw, hit level data from Google Analytics to BigQuery.

This is useful because it overcomes the limitations of the Google Analytics API. The API suffers from:

  • Limits on the number of times you can call it
  • The data is sampled (although an unsampled API is in beta for Premium customers right now)
  • The data is aggregated making it hard to do any sophisticated analytics

Advantages and Disadvantages of BigQuery integration

The benefits of using the integration are:

  • You get access to the hit level data which means you can perform complex analysis.
  • You can see the order events happen in a session. In the Google Analytics interface there is no way to determine what order a user did events or saw pages (the Flow report attempts to but is not reliable).
  • Your data scientists will have a field day.
  • You can do your own cross-device stitching, rather than waiting for Google to upgrade their feature set.
  • You can mix the web analytics data with your own CMS or database, by pulling it into BigQuery or exporting it into your systems.
  • You can use scripts to query the data. Google has a wide range of SDKs and APIs for BigQuery.

The disadvantages of using the integration are:

  • You need Google Analytics Premium (which costs money)
  • You have to pay to query and store data in BigQuery (although you get 500 dollars with free per month if you have a Google Analytics Premium contract)
  • You have to be technical. You don’t get pretty graphs or reports. You need to use an SQL like language to query the data, then export that data and do what you want with it

Enabling the integration

To enable the integration you should speak to your Google account manager. You will need to get a Google Analytics Premium contract in place if you haven’t already.

You should also speak to a Marketing Technology Consultant who can advise you on the best way forward and assist with the integration.

Ed Brocklebank (aka Metric Mogul) is an analytics and digital marketing consultant. He helps business of all sizes become more data-driven through measurement, strategy and activation. He works as a Strategic Analytics Director at Jellyfish in London, as well as delivering training on behalf of Google and formerly General Assembly.