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Understanding GA4 Custom Dimensions

Key Takeaways

DefinitionGA4 custom dimensions are user-defined attributes for deeper data analysis.
TypesIncludes event-scoped and user-scoped dimensions.
ImportanceProvides insights into user behavior and enhances marketing strategies.
Creation ProcessSimplified in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics.
QuotasGA4 allows up to 50 event-scoped and 25 user-scoped dimensions per property (free property). 125 event-scoped and 100 user-scoped (GA4 360)
ConfigurationCan be set up through Google Tag Manager and GA4 interface.
Use CasesIdeal for tracking user preferences, campaign performance, and more.
LimitationsCannot delete but can disable; may face reporting limits with demographic data.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has revolutionized how digital marketers and data analysts understand user interactions on websites and apps. A pivotal feature of this advanced analytics tool is custom dimensions, which allow for a more granular and tailored approach to data analysis. Custom dimensions in GA4 provide an invaluable opportunity to dive deeper into user behavior and preferences, enabling businesses to fine-tune their marketing strategies for optimum impact.

GA4 Custom Dimensions: A Primer

Custom dimensions in GA4 are essentially user-defined attributes that allow tracking additional information about website or app visitors that isn’t available through default Google Analytics reports. These dimensions can be categorized into different types: Event-scoped dimensions are focused on describing specific events and their values. In contrast, user-scoped dimensions provide insights into the users triggering these events​​​​. Google has rumored that session-scoped custom dimensions will eventually be added for GA4, but as of the time of this writing it has not been implemented yet.

Item-scoped custom dimensions in GA4 allow for the tracking of specific details for each individual item within an event, such as color or size in e-commerce transactions, offering a granular view of product-related data and enhancing analysis of customer interactions at the product level. This feature is essential for businesses seeking deeper insights into product performance and customer preferences in their analytics reports.

Why Custom Dimensions Matter

Custom Dimensions in GA4 are more than mere data points; they represent the customization and precision needed in modern digital analytics. By incorporating these into your analytics strategy, you open doors to nuanced insights, tailored reporting, and a deeper understanding of user interactions. Whether you’re an experienced analyst or new to digital analytics, mastering GA4 Custom Dimensions is key to unlocking a wealth of valuable data insights.

The Basics of Custom Dimensions: Laying the Foundation

Defining Custom Dimensions in GA4

Custom Dimensions in GA4 are user-defined metrics that allow for the tracking of specific data points not automatically captured by GA4. They are the bespoke elements in your analytics arsenal, enabling a granular view of user behavior and interactions. By customizing these dimensions, you can tailor your analytics to suit unique business needs and objectives.

Comparing GA4 and Universal Analytics (UA)

Transitioning from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 brings significant changes, particularly in how Custom Dimensions are utilized. In GA4, Custom Dimensions take on a more central role, offering enhanced flexibility and depth. Understanding these differences is crucial for businesses adapting to GA4, ensuring a seamless transition and effective data tracking.

Types of Custom Dimensions in GA4

Event Dimensions: Provide details on specific interactions or events within your website or app.

User Dimensions: Track attributes at the user level, offering insights into long-term behaviors and preferences.

Session Dimensions: Focus on individual browsing sessions, shedding light on short-term user behaviors and experiences. (As of the time of this writing, Google has not implemented session-scoped custom dimensions, but rumor is that it is coming in the future)

Enhancing Data Collection with Custom Dimensions

Custom Dimensions in GA4 are not just about data collection; they’re about collecting the right data. By strategically defining and implementing these dimensions, you can enhance the quality of your analytics, leading to more informed and effective business strategies.

Simplified Creation Process in GA4

One of the notable changes in GA4 is the simplified process of creating custom dimensions. Unlike in Universal Analytics, where the process involves multiple steps, including coding, GA4 streamlines this by allowing users to directly send event parameters and register them as custom dimensions within the GA4 interface​​.

Adding GA4 custom dimensions directly in the GA4 interface.
GA4 interface – Create new custom dimension

Setting Up Custom Dimensions in GA4

Creating Custom Dimensions in GA4 involves a few key steps that are crucial for accurate data tracking and analysis. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Accessing GA4 Property Settings: Log into your Google Analytics account and select the appropriate GA4 property.
  2. Navigating to Custom Definitions: Within the property, under ‘Admin’ find ‘Custom Definitions’ in the Data Display section.
  3. Creating New Custom Dimensions: Click on ‘Create Custom Dimensions’ and enter the necessary details, including name, scope (event or user), and description.
  4. Implementing in Google Tag Manager (GTM): For a seamless integration with GTM, ensure that the Custom Dimension names in GA4 match the parameter names in GTM.
Google Tag Manager - Adding parameters
Google Tag Manager – Parameter Configuration

Patience is Key

Remember that data from new custom dimensions might take up to 24 hours to display in your GA4 reports. Therefore, patience is crucial when implementing these changes​​.

Following these steps, you can effectively implement custom dimensions in GA4, leading to richer insights and more informed decision-making. For more insights into GA4 and its capabilities, explore our detailed article.

Real-World Applications of GA4 Custom Dimensions

Enhancing Business Insights with Custom Dimensions
Custom dimensions in GA4 are not just theoretical constructs; they have practical, real-world applications that can transform how businesses analyze data and make decisions. Let’s explore some of these applications:

  1. E-commerce Insights: Track customer preferences, purchase history, and product interactions to personalize marketing strategies and improve user experience.
  2. Content Engagement: Understand how users interact with different types of content, helping to refine content strategy and creation.
  3. User Segmentation: Segment users based on specific behaviors or attributes for targeted marketing campaigns and improved user engagement.

Identifying the Right Custom Dimensions for Your Business

  • Business Goals Alignment: Choose Custom Dimensions that directly support your business objectives and KPIs.
  • User Behavior Analysis: Identify gaps in your current analytics setup where Custom Dimensions can provide additional insights.
  • Competitor Benchmarking: Look at industry standards and competitor practices to identify potential Custom Dimensions that could give you a competitive edge.

Best Practices for Implementing Custom Dimensions

To maximize the effectiveness of custom dimensions in GA4, here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Plan Ahead: Before creating custom dimensions, clearly understand what data you need to track and why. Create a Solution Design Reference (SDR) that outlines all of the planned parameters and custom dimensions. This will help in choosing the right type of dimension (event-scoped or user-scoped) and ensure that the data collected is relevant and valuable.
  2. Proper & Consistent Nomenclature: Ensure that the naming conventions and parameters used in GTM are consistent with those in GA4. This consistency is crucial for accurate data collection and analysis​​. Additionally, always leverage the names of built-in dimensions when possible.

    For example: you can use link_url (built in) instead of destination_url (custom). That said, do not create a custom dimension with the same or similar name of a built-in one. I have seen a custom dimension for hostname that has different logic than the built-in one, this just creates unnecessary confusion and data hygiene problems.
  3. Test and Verify: Before publishing, always preview and test your custom dimension tags in GTM. This step ensures they are working as expected and capturing the right data​​.
  4. Stay Within Quotas: Be mindful of the quota limitations in GA4, which allow for a maximum of 50 event-scoped and 25 user-scoped custom dimensions per property​​ (free plan) or 125 event-scoped and 100 user-scoped if using a GA4 360 enterprise level property.
  5. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review the data being collected through custom dimensions. If specific dimensions are not providing valuable insights, consider disabling them and experimenting with new ones​​.

Implementing and leveraging GA4 custom dimensions can significantly enhance your analytics capabilities, leading to more informed decisions and effective strategies.

Mastering GA4 Custom Dimensions: Final Thoughts and Resources

Summary of Key Points

  • What They Are: GA4 custom dimensions are user-defined attributes that enrich data analysis beyond default GA reports.
  • Types: They come in two forms – event-scoped and user-scoped, each serving a specific analytical purpose.
  • Creation Ease: GA4 has simplified the creation process compared to Universal Analytics, making it more accessible to users.
  • Quota Limits: Be aware of the quota limitations – up to 50 event-scoped and 25 user-scoped dimensions per property.
  • Implementation: They can be set up through Google Tag Manager and configured in the GA4 interface for precise data tracking.
  • Real-World Use: From e-commerce insights to content optimization and marketing analysis, custom dimensions offer a wealth of practical applications.
  • Best Practices: Planning, consistency, testing, and ongoing monitoring are key to effectively using custom dimensions.

Expanding Your GA4 Expertise

Numerous resources are available for those looking to delve deeper into GA4 and its myriad capabilities, including custom dimensions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Official GA4 Documentation: Google’s resources are a great starting point for understanding the basics and advanced features of GA4.
  2. Online Courses and Webinars: Various digital marketing platforms and educational websites offer courses and webinars focusing on GA4, including implementing custom dimensions. I highly recommend Julius Fedorovicius’ GA4 classes at Analytics Mania. His classes aren’t just comprehensive, but include practical examples and kept up to date which is huge when you’re learning about a platform like GA4 that is still evolving.
  3. Industry Blogs and Articles: Stay updated with the latest trends and tips by following digital marketing blogs, like the Pixel Pulse Digital Blog, which regularly features articles on GA4 and analytics best practices.
  4. Community Forums: Engaging with community forums and discussion groups can provide practical insights and solutions to specific GA4-related queries. Some recommendations are the Measure Slack, and the Further Education Community (Formally SDEC).


GA4 custom dimensions represent a significant advancement in web and app analytics, offering customization and detail that empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions. By understanding and effectively utilizing these custom dimensions, companies can gain a competitive edge in their digital marketing and analytics efforts.

For more insights into leveraging GA4 for your business needs, explore our comprehensive articles and guides on the Pixel Pulse Digital Blog.

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