Google recently announced the release of two 360-only features for GA4. The first is roll-up properties, a feature you may already be familiar with from the days of Universal Analytics. The second is sub-properties, which is a net-new feature of the Google Analytics platform. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of roll-up properties and sub-properties, examples of use cases, and steps to get started.

Roll-up Properties in Google Analytics 4 360

Roll-up properties are a 360-only feature which is Google’s solution for aggregating data across multiple, individual Google Analytics properties. This enables you build out reports that include data from multiple properties, without having to build an external solution like a Data Studio dashboard. We won’t cover GA4 roll-up properties in great detail, because this feature is basically a copy of the pre-existing roll-up feature from Universal Analytics. However, here’s an example of where this might come in handy.

Imagine you’re a global enterprise whose Google Analytics data is broken out on a regional basis for most day-to-day use. You may have a GA property for North America, for Europe, and so on. However, you may have a need to get an enterprise-wide, global view of your data as well. If so, roll-up properties make this really easy.

To create a roll-up property in GA4, simply follow the instructions provided here by Google.

Setting up this roll-up property in the GA4 interface will save you from having to manually pull together a global view of your data somewhere else (for example, in BigQuery). This can save you a lot of time and effort, so it’s a great convenience feature. Be aware, however, that the events you push into a roll-up property in GA4 are billable.

Specifically, events pushed to roll-ups are considered half of a billable event. This means that events pushed into a roll-up property increase your billable event count, and hence increase your monthly usage fees for GA4 360. Put simply, roll-up properties aren’t free, even if you’ve already paid for a GA4 license. As such, we recommend that you do some planning before jumping straight into roll-up properties. Consider questions like:

  • How much data will I need to push into a roll-up?
  • How will that affect my monthly fee?
  • How much time/effort/money will I save by not having to build a roll-up reporting solution outside of GA?

Once you’ve validated that there’s a business case for roll-up properties, the setup process is pretty straightforward (see above). Now, let’s move on to sub-properties, which, unlike roll-up properties, are truly a new feature for Google Analytics.

Sub-properties in Google Analytics 4 360

Sub-properties are a 360-only feature which enables users to break data down into more granular chunks — for example, by business unit. In other words, sub-properties are the inverse of roll-up properties. For example, an enterprise with multiple lines of business may need to get a separate view of the data for each line of business, as shown below.

This would certainly be doable outside of Google Analytics, as long as you’re willing to build your own solution. As with roll-up properties, sub-properties offer a convenient solution for segmenting data directly within the Google Analytics interface. To set up a sub-property, all you’ll need to do is follow the instructions provided here by Google.

And it’s not just about segmenting the data. Sub-properties also allow for unique data governance rules to be applied. This will help enterprises keep data secure by ensuring fine-grain control over who can access data, which specific data they can access, and so on.

Just like roll-up properties, sub-properties impact your costs for GA4 because events pushed into sub-properties are considered to be half of a billable event. So, once again, you’ll want to consider the value of the convenience offered by sub-properties vs. the cost you’re likely to incur.

Summary

Roll-up properties and sub-properties make it easy and convenient for GA4 360 users to aggregate and disaggregate data in customized ways. Whether you’re dealing with multiple regions, brands, lines of business, or other organizational considerations, you’ll now be able to customize your data capture in a way that uniquely fits your organization. That convenience will come at an additional cost, though. So, a cost-benefit analysis of what it would take to manually “recreate” these roll-up properties and sub-properties outside of GA is in order.

If you can quickly and easily get what you need without investing in roll-up properties and sub-properties, then these features might be a luxury you can afford to go without. The opposite is true, as well. If your team will be bogged down manually aggregating/disaggregating data instead of doing more valuable work, then investing in roll-up properties and sub-properties might be a great way to make your GA4 deployment work smarter for you.

Sub-properties are just one of several differences between Universal Analytics and GA4. Remember that Universal Analytics will be deprecated for GA360 users on October 1, 2023, so if you haven’t already, start your GA4 migration as soon as possible.

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