Analytics

Where Are My Views In Google Analytics 4? Everything You Need to Know About Filtering Data in GA4

Google Analytics replaced views in Universal Analytics with data filters in GA4. Here is how to set up and use these filters.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on September 13, 2021 (last modified on September 8, 2021) • 7 minute read

As we alluded to an earlier post, Google Analytics 4 looks a lot different than GA3, a.k.a. Universal Analytics. 

On the one hand, GA4 is a lot more accessible than Universal Analytics. If you don’t have a data and analytics background, the UI is more intuitive. 

However, if you’ve been using Universal Analytics for years, a lot of the customizations and workarounds you created to get the data just how you like it won’t work anymore (at least not how you intended). 

This is especially true if you relied heavily on the views feature in Universal Analytics. This feature no longer exists in GA4, and is replaced with the new data filters feature. 

In this post, we’re sharing how you can filter data in GA4 as well as a couple of workarounds now that views are gone. 

google_analytics_4_acquisition_dashboard_databox

What Are Views in Universal Analytics?

One of the best practices in Universal Analytics is to create three separate views: raw, test, and official. 

  • Raw view – this is an unfiltered view of all your data. This way, you can revert back to your original data if another view gets messed up. 
  • Test view – this is where you can experiment and make changes without impacting your existing website data.
  • Official view – this is the view you use for your marketing analytics. 

Many advanced marketers created additional views based on their specific goals and needs. 

Moving away from views is one of the reasons why some aren’t switching to GA4 yet.

upgrading to GA4

Another reason is that while Google Analytics 4 is easy to understand, there is a high setup cost, especially since data isn’t measured the exact same way (Read: there will be data inconsistencies for a while!). 

In fact, nearly 73% of our survey respondents who made the switch to Google Analytics 4 said it takes time to get everything working properly.  

how hard is the switch from universal analytics to GA4

What Does GA4 Use Instead of Views?

As we alluded to above, GA4 replaces views with data filters. 

Here is how to set up a data filter in Google Analytics 4. 

Go to Admin. Then, click on Data Settings and Data Filters. 

GA4 data filter set up

Then, select Create data filter.

You’ll be presented with two different options: Developer Traffic and Internal Traffic. (We’ll go over the differences later in this article.) 

GA4 data filter 2

If you want to filter out traffic from your developers, you’ll select developer traffic. 

GA4 data filter 3

The first time you set up a filter, it is important to select testing mode to preview what your filtered data looks like. This is important since you cannot revert back to your original data once you change it to active mode. 

Pro Tip: According to Google, you can only set 10 filters per property.  

However, most marketers shouldn’t have to worry about maxing out the number of data filters (at least not yet), since there are only two official data filters right now: Developer and Internal. 

Filtering website traffic data in Google Analytics 4

Since data filters are permanent and can’t be reversed, an alternative approach is to use filter states/modes based on custom events.

For example, Sasha Matviienko of growth360 adds, “One way I find useful when using GA4 filters is using different filter states to test the data. This feature, compared to Universal Analytics makes it easier to see how applying a certain filter will change data as it can be applied in a testing state. Using this approach with GA4 filters, you don’t need to switch between views in Google Analytics and can see potential impacts, all in one view.” 

However, this comes with its own drawbacks, including:

  • There is a steeper learning curve.
  • You will need to have some familiarity with Google Tag Manager. 
  • There are extra steps to ensure that all stakeholders are seeing the same “filtered view” as you are.

How to Use Data Filters in GA4

While most marketers recommend enabling both data filters in GA4, their overall satisfaction with the filtering options was a mixed bag. 

how satisfied are you with data filter options in GA4

Small businesses tend to be more satisfied with the new GA4 changes than larger businesses that might have more complex data needs. 

Let’s use a couple of examples to illustrate why this is the case.

For example, if you are a small business with less than 50 employees and most employees aren’t visiting your website several times a day or making a ton of “test” form conversions, you don’t need to worry about creating an internal data filter to weed out visits from your company’s IP address. The impact of employees’ visits to your marketing reports will be minimal.

Alternatively, if you have a large corporation with 5,000+ employees spread out across several offices, you are going to want to filter out the IP addresses, using the internal filters, associated with all of your primary office locations from your data. This ensures that employee data isn’t skewing your results in an overly positive or negative way.

The only caveat where a smaller business will definitely want to set up a data filter is if they are building any software. You’ll want to create a developer filter to ensure that your developers aren’t triggering new data points every time they make any changes or are doing QA.

For example, Jordan Brannon of Coalition Technologies adds, “Excluding Internal Traffic as well as Developer Traffic from the GA4 allows us to exclude our internal (employee) traffic and provides us accurate Analytics data. 

Along with that, GA4 automatically detects and excludes data from bots or spiders that can skew Universal Analytics data.

Internal Traffic is defined as traffic from the website’s internal team / non-target audience members such as company employees and partner agencies. By default, GA4 defines the internal traffic as event data with the traffic_type parameter having value as ‘internal’.

The Second Filter is Developer Traffic that is generated while debugging the analytics implementation. GA4 defines developer traffic as an event with parameter name ‘debug_mode’ or ‘debug_event’ with parameter value ‘1’ The developer traffic filters allow us to exclude test transactions or test form submissions from analytics data.” 

This will allow you to get a better understanding of your real visitor numbers without bots, employees, and developer activity clouding your data. 

However, it is worth repeating that you should always test your data filters in testing mode before you launch them. Once you enable an internal or developer filter in GA4, you can’t undo it. 

google_analytics_4_acquisition_dashboard_databox


While GA4 has a lot of useful features, there are some big differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics. It is best to run both versions in parallel for a while before you fully switch over. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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