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What is sampling in Google Analytics?

What is data sampling in Google Analytics?

In data analysis, sampling is the practice of analyzing a subset of all data in order to uncover the meaningful information in the larger data set.

If you are analyzing a large data set, it can be difficult or expensive to uncover meaningful information from the entire dataset. Therefore, to make the process faster, easier, and more effective, Google Analytics will take a subset of your data for analysis through Data Sampling.

In Dataslayer, your GA data will be displayed unsampled (see "How to avoid data sampling" below), but in the Google Analytics console it may not be. This can cause data discrepancies, as Dataslayer shows accurate data while Google Analytics may not.

How can I check if my data is being sampled in GA4 console?

You can tell whether your data is sampled or not by observing the color of the shield icon at the top of your report. When the shield icon is green, the data you are looking at is unsampled. If you see a yellow shield, then your data is sampled.

Identifying unsampled data in Google Analytics

Identifying sampled data in Google Analytics

You can also change the nature of your sampling to increase or reduce the sample size by selecting ‘Greater precision’ for a bigger sample size or ‘Faster response’ for a smaller sample size in the dropdown menu.

If you are using the free version of Google Analytics, there will be limited access to unsampled data when you exceed the threshold limit of 500,000 sessions. Google Analytics will sample data when the dataset involved is very large and may take too long to process. In this case, it will only pick a portion of the data to process.

How can avoid data sampling in Google Analytics with Dataslayer?

Dataslayer is the easiest way to avoid data sampling. In our Google Analytics connector, select the option "Avoid GA Sampling (slower but more accurate data)". This will imply a longer processing time for your query.

In our GA4 connector, this option is enabled by default.

And on the GA console?

Although not always possible, there are a few ways to avoid data sampling in the Google Analytics Console, or at least reduce it. In this article from our blog you can find out more about it.

Do you have any questions? Don't hesitate to write us through our website chat or through our email.

See the full GA sampling article here.

Updated on: 01/03/2023

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