BigQuery & Google Analytics Guide to Integration, Cost and Tips

BigQuery & Google Analytics Guide to Integration, Cost and Tips

The integration of GA4 with BigQuery can help you make informed marketing data-driven decisions by leveraging BigQuery’s data processing solutions.

By: Hareem Sajjad | 8 mins read
Published: Jul 5, 2023 8:51:18 AM | Updated: Apr 19, 2024 12:46:30 AM

 

The integration of BigQuery in Google Analytics 4 has brought a new level of sophistication to its previous versions. BigQuery is a database service that is expected to revolutionize the field of marketing through data-based decision-making.

This tool is highly cost-effective as it queries large amounts of data at low costs while costs for smaller amounts of data are almost negligible. 

To walk you through the intricacies of integration and costs of this platform, this post will be resourceful for you to understand the steps to seamlessly connect BigQuery with GA4

In this GA4 and BigQuery tutorial, we will be going over all the essential concepts of export configurations, SQL functions, and API connectivity. 

This guide will help you navigate through all the best techniques for query optimization, data compression, and governance principles while optimizing your expenditures simultaneously.

What is BigQuery

BigQuery is a serverless, powerful data warehouse provided by Google Cloud products. It allows organizations to store, analyze, and manage large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. GA4 BigQuery integration

Since BigQuery offers robust and scalable solutions for processing extensive amounts of data, therefore, it can help marketers make effective data-driven decisions.

This tool operates as a cloud-based data warehouse by using the infrastructure, scalability, and computational power of Google. This element will allow you to eliminate the need to invest in hardware. Due to infrastructure management, BigQuert allows you to maintain focus on extracting insights from your data without any other distractions.

Key Features and Capabilities of BigQuery

Scalability and Performance

BigQuery can handle large datasets and perform queries at high speeds. It effortlessly processes petabytes of data which is very convenient for organizations that deal with large volumes of information. 

It can execute queries across multiple servers at the same time due to its distributed architecture that delivers fast and responsive results.

SQL-Friendly Interface

Analysts and data scientists can easily query and analyze data since BigQuery supports standard SQL. They can also write complex SQL queries and leverage their existing SQL skills because BigQuery has a user-friendly interface. 

Moreover, it also supports a broad set of SQL functions and analytical capabilities to help derive useful insights from data.

Serverless and Automatic Scaling

BigQuery is a serverless platform which means it automatically manages resource allocation based on query demands. It accommodates query workloads by scaling up and down to ensure optimal performance without any manual intervention. 

This allows users to remain focused on analyzing data and insights without the distraction of provisioning resources or adjusting infrastructure.

Querying Syntax in BigQuery

Partitioning and Clustering

BigQuery offers advanced features like partitioning and clustering to help optimize query performance. Partitioning involves dividing the data into smaller, manageable portions based on column specifications, such as date or timestamp. 

Clustering reorganizes the data within each of these partitions to improve data locality and reduce the amount of data scanned during queries. This function enhances query efficiency and helps reduce costs by curtailing data being processed.

Query Caching and Results

BigQuery caches query results to reduce costs, speed up query response times, and improve performance. If a repeated query is present within a specified timeframe with the same underlying data then BigQuery returns results from cache rather than executing the query again.

GA integration with BigQuery

The integration of Google Analytics and BigQuery has opened up new avenues of data analysis

It includes features that enable:

  • Data storage wherever it is convenient for you to comply with your data governance methods.
  • Entry of raw data into a data warehouse directly to enable unsampled predictive analytics, data analysis, and endless data customization options.
  • Export streaming updates within seconds.

Work with the BigQuery Sandbox that allows you to start using its services for free.

How to connect GA4 with BigQuery

The Google Analytics BigQuery integration will allow you to unlock the full potential of your GA4 data. By exporting your GA4 data to BigQuery, you can build custom reports, perform complex queries, and gain deeper insights into your buyer persona behavior patterns.

1. Setting Up BigQuery Export for GA4

Enable the BigQuery Export feature present in the GA4 property settings to integrate them. 

The following steps will help you get started:

  • Step 1: First, you need to create a BigQuery project through the Google Cloud Console which will serve as the destination for your GA4 data.
  • Step 2: To enable BigQuery export in GA4, you need to log in to your GA4 account. Then go to the Admin section where you will find the "BigQuery Links" tab under the Product Links column. After this, you will need to link the BigQuery Project that you created earlier in the BigQuery Export settings and confirm the project as well as the location of your data.
  • Step 3: Next, you need to configure the export options and select which data streams or events you want to export. Set the export frequency to daily, streaming, or both. 

Note:

GA4 offers flexible export options, allowing you to export raw events, aggregated events, or both. You can also configure custom dimensions and metrics for export.

2. Exported Data in BigQuery

GA4 will export your data to the selected BigQuery dataset when you enable BigQuery export. The exported data may include aggregated or raw events, user properties, and other relevant metrics captured by GA4.

This exported dataset available in BigQuery will be added to tables. The tables are usually named "events_intraday_YYYYMMDD" or "events_YYYYMMDD" which can make it easy for you to identify and query specific date ranges. 

3. Analyzing GA4 Data in BigQuery

The integration of both of these platforms allows GA4 to leverage the flexibility, power, and ability of BigQuery's analytics to gain extensive insight into user behavior, engagement, and conversions. 

Here are some ways to analyze your GA4 data in BigQuery:

  • Advanced Queries: BigQuery's robust SQL querying capabilities can be utilized to perform segmentation, and complex, and cohort analysis on GA4 data.
  • Data Blending: BigQuery can combine GA4 datasets with datasets of its own to inquire about valuable insights and correlations. These datasets may include marketing campaign data, CRM data, or demographic data.
  • Custom Reporting: BigQuery can also be integrated with third-party tools such as data visualization tools like Google Data Studio that can help you create custom reports, dashboards, and visualizations based on your GA4 data.
  • Machine Learning and AI: BigQuery's integration with machine learning tools such as Google Cloud's AI can be leveraged to apply advanced analytics techniques, such as predictive modeling or anomaly detection, to your GA4 data.

If you want to learn more about Google Analytics 4, you can read our post on all the features you should know about GA4.

Cost Consideration when Using BigQuery with GA

The GA4 cost for processing with BigQuery has two types of pricing methods. One of them is the storage cost and the other is the processing or query cost. 

It offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model thus charging users only for the resources they use which allows you to cut costs significantly. Let’s discuss each of the costs in further detail.

Storage Costs

It is crucial to consider the storage costs when using BigQuery with GA4 even though this cost is very low in comparison to query costs. BigQuery charges for data storage when providing flexible and scalable data warehousing solutions. 

Google Analytics generates significant amounts of data, therefore, it is necessary to consider the impact of storage costs and manage it carefully. 

To cut expenses, we advise you to evaluate data retention policies and continue adjusting your data requirements according to changing business needs. We advise you to employ partitioning and clustering techniques to enhance query performance and reduce costs. 

Tip:

We advise you to consider data compression techniques to help minimize storage requirements. By actively managing storage costs, you can maximize the benefits for your business while keeping expenses under control.

Processing Costs

For smaller amounts of data, BigQuery offers an extensive free tier costing model. This model allows users to process queries for data up to 1 terabyte per month without incurring any charges. 

However, as the pool of data becomes larger, the free tier costing model changes into the paid tier. Usually, Google applies a $5 fee per terabyte and the pricing may also vary by region.

The BigQuery Price Calculator can help you estimate the costs incurred while querying your data. This tool can help you gain insights into the estimated expenses you should expect from your specific data processing needs.

We understand that the fees in the paid tier might be a cause of concern for your data processing needs for larger datasets. However, it is helpful to note that even if the costs of a dataset move to the paid tier from the free tier, it remains relatively affordable

For instance:

Let's assume that you will be running queries on 4 terabytes of data in a month out of which 3 terabytes will incur a $5 charge per additional terabyte beyond the free tier. The total cost would still amount to $15 only with the calculation; (($4 - 1) * $5).

By understanding the cost implications and monitoring data usage, you can effectively manage your businesses and marketing expenses while leveraging the capabilities of BigQuery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to optimize BigQuery Usage to minimize costs?

To optimize BigQuery usage and minimize costs, follow these best practices:

  • Query optimization: You can structure your queries by using filters, partitioning, and clustering data to efficiently reduce unnecessary data processes.
  • Table Design: Organize your tables by using nested and repeated fields with the appropriate schema design to avoid unnecessary duplication of data.
  • Data ingestion: Optimize loading data into BigQuery using compressed files, loading data in batches, and streaming inserts with better buffering.
  • Data lifecycle management: Use partitioning and time-based tables to implement data expiration policies to remove outdated data to cut costs.
  • Cost monitoring: Utilize BigQuery's built-in tools such as query audit logs and slot reservations to monitor query usage regularly and to identify inefficient queries. 
  • Reservations and slots: Use flat-rate pricing options and optimize slot usage for expected workloads to allocate capacity and save costs by using BigQuery's reservation feature. 
  • Automate cost controls: Take benefit from scripting and automation tools to schedule start/stop times for data processing and reduce usage during non-peak hours.

By following these cost optimization practices, you can minimize unnecessary expenses and utilize most of BigQuery’s usage benefits. For more detailed information, you can visit Google Cloud.

What’s the difference between standard SQL and BigQuery SQL?

Standard SQL and BigQuery SQL are two different query languages used in Google BigQuery. Here are the key differences:

  • Syntax: BigQuery SQL follows the legacy SQL syntax by default, which is similar to SQL-92. On the other hand, Standard SQL follows the ANSI SQL 2011 standard and offers additional features and functionality.
  • Compatibility: Standard SQL is more compatible with other database systems, making it easier to port queries from one system to another. It supports a wider range of SQL functions and operators, providing a more familiar SQL experience.
  • Data Types: Standard SQL introduces additional data types like “Struct”, “Array”, and “Geography”, enabling more flexible data modeling and analysis.
  • Window Functions: Standard SQL supports window functions, which allow for advanced analytical calculations within a query. This feature is not available in legacy SQL.
  • NULL Handling: Standard SQL has a more robust handling of NULL values, offering greater control and flexibility in query results.
  • JOIN Syntax: Standard SQL introduces a more explicit JOIN syntax using the ON keyword, whereas legacy SQL uses the implicit JOIN syntax with comma-separated tables.

Shifting from legacy SQL to Standard SQL may require familiarizing oneself with the new syntax and features as well as adapting existing queries. However, it is only a short learning curve due to the user-friendly BigQuery SQL interface.

What are the most common BigQuery SQL commands?

The following are some of the most common BigQuery SQL commands:

  • Select: This function is used to find data from one or more tables in BigQuery. You can retrieve data from columns and apply filters or perform aggregations.
  • From: The “From” clause allows you to specify the table from which data has to be retrieved in the “Select” function. It helps identify the source of the data for the query.
  • Where: This clause allows you to filter data based on specified conditions. You can filter the rows you want to include in the result set by defining your required criteria.
  • Group By: It allows you to group rows based on one or more columns. It is usually used with aggregate functions such as  “Sum”, “Count”, or “Average” to calculate metrics in groups.
  • Order By: This clause can sort result sets based on specified columns. You can sort data in ascending or descending order.
  • Join: The “Join” function can combine rows from multiple tables based on a common column between them. It allows you to easily retrieve data from different tables in a single query.
  • Limit: This clause restricts the number of rows returned by a query. It is typically used to retrieve top results or to implement pagination.

These are some fundamental commands to query data in BigQuery and form the foundation for building complex queries. For more detailed information on these commands and their usage, you can refer to Google Cloud.

Conclusion

BigQuery is a powerful serverless data warehouse by Google Cloud that has brought sophistication to data-driver marketing decision-making with its scalability, high-performance querying, and user-friendly SQL interface. 

Marketers can efficiently store, analyze, and manage big pools of data to make effective decisions. However, cost considerations are essential. BigQuery follows a pay-as-you-go pricing model that includes storage and query costs. 

By optimizing queries, employing data lifecycle management, and monitoring expenses, marketers can maximize BigQuery's business benefits while managing costs.

The integration of Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery can empower marketers to extract accurate insights, perform complex analyses, and make informed decisions, thereby becoming a valuable tool in the marketing field.

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