Data Alert: GA4 & Google Looker Studio Issues

Matt Crowley - November 17, 2022

Our team has identified a critical issue occurring with Looker Studio reports that use GA4 data (formerly known as Google Data Studio). This was caused by a recent change Google made without prior notice.  It impacts any organization that visualizes GA4 data in a Looker Studio report using a direct connector to GA4 (which is the most common method). At this time, it does not appear that this impacts reports if the data is connected via a data warehouse like BigQuery.

What Happened

This past week, Google released updates to Looker Studio as part of their regular ongoing improvements to the tool.

However, one of their changes introduced a critical issue that makes Looker Studio reports nearly unusable to visualize GA4 data without a new data architecture being put into place (if the report is using a direct connection to GA4). This is a complex issue, but we have provided a summary of the information here – please reach out to your client strategist if you have any questions.

In their release notes about the latest updates, Google included a note under a section titled “In other news” (not even within the main release notes) that:

  • “Looker Studio reports that visualize Google Analytics 4 data are subject to Analytics Data API (GA4) quotas. Reports that exceed the quotas may display error messages. The quotas should only affect highly trafficked reports.”

Most Looker Studio reports that visualize GA4 data are connected directly to the GA4 property containing the data. This has been the best practice architecture for most organizations without complex needs requiring a data warehouse.

Before this change by Google, the direct connection between Looker Studio and GA4 didn’t pose any major limits on your usage of the report.

However, now, Google has imposed limits on your usage of GA4 data in a Looker Studio report when they are directly connected. Specifically, they are now applying limits (quotas) on the GA4 API usage to Looker Studio Reports. These limits are extremely restrictive for standard properties and somewhat restrictive for 360 customers.

In our testing, GA4 data become unusable with as little as 11 charts, 1 user, and 1 filter (example below). When you reach the limited quota, you will see errors like those shown below with the wrench and “See details” link.

What Should be Done

At this point, there has not been any official recognition by Google that this is a critical issue. They have provided steps to help mitigate the issue, but the steps provided are not reasonable (such as including less data or sharing the report with fewer people).

The best path forward around this issue (unless Google course corrects and reverts to their prior state or increases the quotas) is most likely to leverage BigQuery as a data warehouse and connect Looker Studio to that source. However, please note that this is a much more complex solution that comes with added time requirements & effort (for data architecture and configuration) and cost (as storing in and using data from BigQuery can result in charges).

If you would like support with overcoming this challenge, please reach out to us at info@morevisibility.com

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