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These are the learning I learned from setting up Google Analytics V4 connecting it to a Shopify store.

GA4 Don’t track demographics by default anymore.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) doesn’t provide specific demographic data such as gender and age by default. This is due to privacy concerns and evolving data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.

To respect user privacy and comply with regulations, Google Analytics 4 limits the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) collected and displayed in reports. Instead, GA4 focuses more on aggregated and anonymized data, providing insights into user behavior patterns and trends without revealing individual demographic details.

Google Signal

Google Signals is a feature in Google Analytics that allows for the enhancement of user data with additional insights, including demographic information, across devices. When you enable Google Signals, Google Analytics collects data from users who have signed into Google services, such as Gmail or YouTube, and provides aggregated and anonymized insights into their behavior. This enables a more comprehensive understanding of your audience and their interactions with your website or app.

However, there are some consequences and considerations to keep in mind when enabling Google Signals:

  1. Thresholds for Reporting: Enabling Google Signals can affect the reporting thresholds within Google Analytics 4 properties. This means that rows with small numbers in reports may be hidden in most reporting identities, except for device-only reporting. This can impact the visibility of certain data points and may require careful consideration, especially for marketers who rely on detailed insights.
  2. Audiences for Google Ads: If you want to use audiences in Google Ads for remarketing or targeting purposes, enabling Google Signals is necessary. Google Signals provides additional audience data that can be utilized in Google Ads to improve ad targeting and effectiveness.
  3. Data Privacy and Compliance: It’s essential to consider data privacy and compliance regulations when enabling Google Signals. Ensure that you’re transparent with users about the data collection practices and that you comply with relevant regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.
  4. Temporary Solutions: In some cases, marketers may need to temporarily adjust reporting settings or use device-only reporting identity to overcome data thresholds caused by Google Signals. This allows for a workaround while still leveraging the benefits of the feature.

Overall, while Google Signals can provide valuable insights into user behavior and demographics, it’s crucial to weigh the consequences and ensure that it aligns with your data privacy policies and reporting needs. Marketers should carefully evaluate whether the benefits of enabling Google Signals outweigh any potential limitations or challenges associated with reporting thresholds.

Google signals data sounds non-personalizable. Why does it then still trigger GDPR and CCPA requirements?

Google Signals aggregates and anonymizes data to provide insights into user behavior and demographics across devices. While the data itself may be anonymized and not directly linked to individual users, it still falls under the purview of privacy regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) for several reasons:

  1. Data Protection Principles: GDPR and CCPA apply not only to personally identifiable information (PII) but also to any data that can be used to indirectly identify individuals. Even if the data is anonymized, it may still be subject to privacy regulations if it can potentially be linked back to individuals through additional information or data processing techniques.
  2. Aggregate Data: While Google Signals provides aggregated insights, it still involves the collection and processing of user data, albeit in a depersonalized form. Privacy regulations often apply to the collection, processing, and sharing of any form of user data, regardless of whether it’s directly linked to identifiable individuals.
  3. User Rights: GDPR and CCPA grant users certain rights regarding their data, such as the right to access, delete, and opt-out of data processing. Even if the data collected through Google Signals is anonymized, users still have the right to request information about the data collected and its purposes, as well as the ability to opt-out of data processing if they choose to do so.
  4. Transparency and Consent: Privacy regulations emphasize transparency and consent in data collection practices. Companies must clearly disclose their data collection activities to users and obtain their consent where required, even if the data collected is anonymized. Users have the right to know what data is being collected about them and how it’s being used, regardless of whether it’s directly identifiable.

Therefore, even though Google Signals aggregates and anonymizes data for analytical purposes, it’s still subject to GDPR, CCPA, and similar privacy regulations because it involves the collection, processing, and analysis of user data, albeit in a depersonalized form. Compliance with these regulations ensures that user privacy rights are protected, even in cases where the data collected is not directly linked to identifiable individuals.

#1. Enable Google Signals

Source:Missing Demographic Data in Google Analytics 4? Here are the reasons – Analytics Mania

Go to Admin of your GA4 property > Data Settings > Data Collection. If you see the “Get started” button in the Enable Google signals data collection section, Google Signals are not enabled.

If that’s your case, DON’T rush to enable it yet.

First, get familiar with the risks of using signals. Read this article to learn more.

Still want to enable it? Then click Get Started and complete all the steps as I have explained them here. If limitations (thresholds) caused by Google Signals are a severe blocker, don’t enable it. But then you won’t have the demographic data.

Google Signals is a must for the demographic data to appear in your reports.

#2. You have installed Google Analytics 4 server-side

If you have installed GA4 with server-side GTM, then Google Signals (and thus, Demographics reports) will not work. This is mentioned in Google’s documentation too.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do now about it. It’s either GA4 + server-side tagging (without demographic data) or GA4 with demographic data (but without server-side setup). The choice is yours.

Shopify specific problem

Setup Google App with Enhanced ecommerce mode enabled in Shopify.

Google Analytics data does not show sales value even add to cart value is not tracked.

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