GA4 Calculated Metrics | Complete Guide

The recent addition of calculated metrics to GA4’s custom definitions has further expanded the possibilities for data analysis. This article will explore the concept of GA4 calculated metrics, how to create them, and the potential benefits they offer businesses and marketers.

We will also discuss the limitations of calculated metrics and provide real-world use cases to demonstrate its application. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of calculated metrics in GA4 and how they can empower you to extract valuable insights from your website or application data.

What are calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4?

Calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4 are custom definitions that enable you to perform advanced analysis and gain deeper insights into your data by combining existing metrics using mathematical formulas.

In short, calculated metrics allow users to derive new insights by combining existing metrics or by combining existing metrics with a constant value using mathematical formulas. To create a calculated metric, Google Analytics 4 lets you choose the metrics you want to use and apply mathematical operations like adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing them. This empowers you to create new metrics that are not available by default in Google Analytics 4.

For example, you can create a calculated metric to calculate the Lead Form Submission Rate, by dividing the Form Submissions by the Form Views. The Formula will be something like this – Lead Form Submission Rates = {{Form Submissions}} / {{Form Views}}. “Form Submissions” and “Form Views” should be set up as custom events in Google Analytics 4.

Calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4 have retrospective capability. This enables you to apply calculations and derive insights retrospectively, allowing you to report on historical data using these metrics. Additionally, you can leverage calculated metrics in both GA4 standard reports and exploration reports. This flexibility enables you to customise your analytics data and extract valuable insights tailored to your unique business goals.

Although both calculated metrics and custom metrics are user-defined, they are pretty different from each other. Calculated metrics are for deriving new data from the already available data in GA4, while Custom metrics are for tracking and collecting numerical data that are unavailable by default in GA4.

Benefits of using GA4 calculated metrics

There are several benefits of using calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4; let’s discuss a few of them below:

  • Customization: Calculated metrics allow you to create user-defined metrics tailored to your business needs. You can combine existing metrics to create new metrics that provide deeper insights into your data.
  • Advanced Analysis: Calculated metrics enable more sophisticated analysis by allowing you to perform mathematical operations on your data. You can create complex formulas to calculate ratios, averages, conversion rates, and other metrics unavailable by default in Google Analytics.
  • Deeper Insights: By leveraging calculated metrics, you can gain deeper insights into your website or app performance. These metrics can help you understand user behaviour, engagement levels, conversion rates, and other important metrics specific to your business goals.
  • Data Consistency: Calculated metrics ensure consistency in your data analysis. Instead of manually calculating metrics outside of Google Analytics, you can create calculated metrics within the platform, ensuring that the calculations are accurate and consistent across all your reports.
  • Reporting Flexibility: You can use calculated metrics in various reports within Google Analytics, including the exploration reports, and custom reports. This gives you the flexibility to analyse your data in different ways and create custom reports focusing on the metrics that matter most to your business.

Overall, calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4 provide a powerful tool for customising and analysing your data. Calculated metrics are retrospective, so you can report on historical data with calculated metrics, allowing them to work retrospectively. This enables you to gain deeper insights and make data-driven decisions for your business.

How to create a calculated metric in GA4?

To create a calculated metric in Google Analytics 4, follow these steps:

  1. In the left-hand menu, click “Admin” to access the Admin settings.

    Step 1 Open GA4 and go to Admin Panel

  2. Under the “Data Display” settings, click on “Custom Definitions.”

    GA4 data display

  3. Click on the “Calculated Metric” and then click on the “Create calculated metric” button, which opens the formula builder.

    create GA4 calculated metric

  4. Use the formula builder to create your desired calculation.

    You can select existing metrics and apply mathematical operations like addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*), and division (/). Write a descriptive name for your metric; GA4 automatically populates the API. In the description box, write a sentence that describes the metrics. Use the formula box to write your formula, and then select the unit of measurement for your metric.Step 4 Create Your GA4 Calculated Metric using formula builder

In our example, we created a metric that calculates the percentage of the total items viewed that users viewed in a promotion. Save the calculated metric, and it will be available in your reports.

How to use newly created metrics in GA4 reports

You can use the newly created metrics in GA4 standard reports and exploration reports.

To use a new metric in Google Analytics 4 standard reports, follow these steps:

1. Access the reporting section in your GA4 account by clicking on “Reports” in the left-hand menu.

report section GA4
GA4 Reports

2. Choose the report you want to work with, such as the Acquisition report and click on the customise report button.

customise report
Customise GA4 report

3. Look for the “Metrics” section, select the “Add Metrics” drop-down button. Scroll down to find your newly created metric.

add calculated metric
Add newly created GA4 calculated metric in the report

4. Once selected, the calculated metric will be added to your report, and you can analyze your data using this metric.

To use the newly created calculated metrics in an exploration report. Simply go to explore, click on a blank report, and click on the plus (+) sign next to metrics to add the calculated metrics you created under custom, import them, and then add them to your report.

GA4 calculated metrics limitations

Calculated metrics in GA4 have certain limitations that are important to consider. Firstly, in terms of usage, a standard property allows for creating up to 5 calculated metrics, while a 360 property allows for creating up to 50 calculated metrics. This means you must prioritise the metrics you create in a standard property. However, while GA4 standard property (free accounts) has a limitation of 5 calculated metrics, users can create an unlimited number of calculated metrics in Google Looker Studio when they connect the property to Google Looker Studio.

The level of detail in the underlying data also plays a role in the precision of calculated metrics. Depending on the granularity of the data, the accuracy and specificity of the calculated metrics may vary.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that referencing a calculated metric within the formula for another calculated metric is not possible. Instead, only predefined and custom metrics can be used when constructing the formula for a calculated metric, restricting their ability to build upon each other for more complex calculations.

Understanding these limitations helps ensure proper usage and interpretation of calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4.

GA4 vs UA calculated metrics

There are some differences between calculated metrics in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Universal Analytics (UA); some of them include:

  1. Data Model: GA4 uses an event-based data model, while UA used a session-based one. This impacts how calculated metrics are defined and calculated in each platform.
  1. Formula Builder: GA4 introduced a new formula builder for creating calculated metrics, offering a more user-friendly interface than UA’s formula editor.
  1. Metric Dependencies: In GA4, calculated metrics cannot reference other calculated metrics. However, in UA, calculated metrics could reference other calculated metrics, allowing for more complex calculations.
  1. Reporting Availability: GA4 calculated metrics are available in reports, exploration reports, and GA Data API. In UA, calculated metrics could be used in custom reports and some pre-built reports, but not all reports support them.

Do you need help with setting up calculated metrics?

To leverage the full potential of calculated metrics and unlock actionable insights for your business, consider partnering with our professional GA4 analytics service. Our team of experts can help you navigate the complexities of calculated metrics, optimise their usage, and derive meaningful insights tailored to your specific business goals. Contact us today and let us assist you in maximising the potential of your GA4 data.

Final Word

In conclusion, in GA4, calculated metrics are metrics that users can create by combining existing metrics through mathematical formulas or by combining existing metrics with a constant value using mathematical formulas. These metrics allow for more advanced analysis and deeper insights into your data. One key feature of calculated metrics in GA4 is their retrospective nature, meaning they can collect and report on historical data. This enables you to apply calculations and derive insights retrospectively, even if you create the calculated metric after the data is collected. By leveraging calculated metrics in GA4, you can create metrics tailored to your needs, comprehensively understand your data and make informed decisions based on historical trends and patterns. 

Overall, calculated metrics in GA4 offer a valuable way to gain deeper insights and conduct advanced analysis of your data. While it’s essential to be mindful of their limitations, such as data granularity and the inability to reference other calculated metrics, these metrics can still provide valuable insights when used effectively.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are calculated metrics in GA4?

Calculated metrics in GA4 refer to user-defined metrics you can create by combining existing metrics using mathematical formulas or by combining existing metrics with a constant value using mathematical formulas.

How to create a calculated metric in GA4?

To create a calculated metric in GA4, you can use the formula builder in the Google Analytics interface to combine existing metrics using mathematical operations. To locate the formula builder on your GA4 property, click “Admin” -> “Data Display” -> “Custom Definitions “->” Calculated Metric” ->” Create calculated metric”. This opens the formula builder, where you can name your metrics, write a description, and choose a unit of measurement.

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