Introducing New Date and Hour Dimensions in Google Analytics 4
November 18, 2022 -
Google Analytics offers many useful features for web designers and marketers who need to collect valuable data from users and convert it to metrics that can be used in different ways. This includes an attribute of data known as “dimensions”.
While Google Analytics has offered numerous dimensions for a while, it recently introduced date and hour dimensions. Let’s examine what these are and why they are important.
What are Dimensions in GA4?
Before discussing what date and hour dimensions are, we should first define exactly what “dimensions” are in GA4. A dimension (or custom parameter from an implementation perspective) is simply one of the attributes of users who visit a website. Let’s describe what this means with an example.
If 745 people visited your website through Google searches in the last 24 hours, they all share one attribute: That they visited your website. These users would therefore all possess the google/organic attribute.
Similarly, if 650 users came to your website from unknown origin points, they would possess the (direct) / (none) attribute. Most people believe this is caused 100% by users who visit your site directly, however this is not always the case.
Each dimension is generally made up of both names and values. In the above example, google/organic is the dimension value while Session source/medium is the dimension name.
Types of Dimensions in GA4
There are generally two types of dimensions in GA4: Default Dimensions and Custom Dimensions.
Default dimensions are dimensions that appear by default in GA4. They appear in each report, but you might see different ones depending on the report type. Default dimensions can be broken down into subcategories such as:
- User acquisition dimensions
- User engagement dimensions
- Session acquisition dimensions
- User demographics dimensions
- Monetization dimensions
- Tech dimensions
Keep in mind these are not the only default dimensions, but the default ones that you will see mainly in the GA4 UI. As mentioned in this article, you can create your own collection (e.g. App developer, Life Cycle, User) and add the dimensions you prefer or use most. Overall, GA4 has, for Analytics Dimensions, 16 categories:
- Page / screen
- Platform / device
- Traffic source
- User lifetime
Custom Dimensions are special types of dimensions for attributes and characteristics you wish to track. Although these dimensions typically fall into two subcategories, it’s up to you to provide a dimension name and what data to be passed into it:
- Event-scoped dimensions
- User-scoped dimensions
Now, it’s important to highlight that it’s not because you can create any name and pass any data into custom dimensions that you should do it. Remember, GA4 has limitations in terms of dimensions per event: 25 event parameters for Standard and 100 for GA4 360.
What are Date and Hour Dimensions?
Google added Date and Hour dimensions to GA4 at the end of October 2022. These default dimensions help you track many different user attributes. Each new dimension and their corresponding meaning is shown below:
- Hour: This refers to the hour at which the event was logged
- Date + hour: This refers to the date and hour at which the event was logged
- Week: This refers to the week of the event. It ranges from 01 to 53, with 01 (or Week 1) starting on Sunday, January 1st.
- Month: This refers to the month of the event. It ranges from 01 to 12 with 01 representing January.
The above are all standard dimensions in GA4. You also have the option of using the following dimensions:
- Nth day: This tracks the number of days that have elapsed since a specified date
- Nth hour: This tracks the number of hours that have elapsed since a specified date and time
- Nth week: This tracks the number of weeks that have elapsed since a specified week
- Nth month: This tracks the number of month that have elapsed since a specified date
- Nth year – This tracks the number of year that have elapsed since a specified date
Why are Date and Hour Dimensions Important?
Date and hour dimensions are important because they provide marketers with vital information they can use in different ways. Such information can help them create targeted marketing campaigns or make changes that yield optimal results on a time-basis.
For example, let’s say marketers use GA4’s hour dimension to learn that the vast majority of users clicked their ads between 3pm and 5pm. They could potentially use this information to provide special offers for users knowing they will see the advertisement and click on it between this time slot.
Similarly, marketers can track which months of the year their brand’s website received the most views. This can help them track the general flow of interest in their products or services annually, and adjust their marketing campaigns to focus on increasing conversions.
How To Set Up Date and Hour Dimensions
As mentioned earlier, Date and Hour are default dimensions. They do not need to be set up or enabled, and will automatically be shown in reports. This means marketers will always have access to these useful dimensions whenever needed. All you have to do is go into a specific report (Engagement > Events, for example), click to add a secondary dimension in there and type “date”.
What Dimensions Will Google Introduce in the Future?
Date and Hour are just the latest set of dimensions Google has introduced in GA4. They will likely continue adding more dimensions in the future. However, it is difficult to predict what the next ones will be.
We do know that each set of dimensions Google introduces offers additional valuable information on user interactions. This means marketers will continue learning more about their audience and can create marketing campaigns to target them more closely.
Learning About the Latest GA4 Updates at Napkyn
At Napkyn, we keep track of the latest Google Analytics 4 developments and post updates to ensure you are always in the loop regarding new features and how to use them. Please check our News & Resources section, and sign up for our monthly newsletter to get the latest scoop on Google Analytics 4 as well as useful guides for getting the most out of this platform.
Have questions about transitioning or getting the most out of your GA4 implementation?