GA4 new feature: Import Offline Events

April 25, 2021 - Written by

As always, somewhat quietly, Google released one of the most important – perhaps among the top three ever – features of GA4.

We are talking about importing offline events.

How to import offline events in GA4

Why do we consider it one of the most important features ever? Well, through this function you will be able to import any type of data within the Google Analytics 4 ecosystem. You may understand this new feature is definitely a game changer!

Think for example of those who have an ecommerce and also a physical store (in Analytics Boosters we are fans of this combo 😉): we usually go through a datalake or similar to be able to cross online and offline sales data and have a full picture of the user behavior. It involves a whole series of steps that can lengthen the data analysis time. Now with the new feature we will be able to load all the data into GA4 and generate super in-depth segmentations and analyisis can be performed directly inside the tool.

Once loaded, the events are processed as if they were collected via the normal SDK / Measurement protocol, using the timestamp specified in a field of the CSV file or via the timestamp of the time of data loading.

What events can we import?

According to the description provided by the official Google guide, we can now “import offline events from sources that do not have an Internet connection or that otherwise cannot support real-time event collection via SDK or Measurement Protocol”.

You can then import:

  • “enhanced” events, collected automatically by Google Analytics
  • the recommended events, dedicated to the different verticals
  • the custom events + parameters or user properties

As for all GA4 data, they can be removed using the “Data Deletion Requests” function.

How does the offline event import work in GA4?

To access the online data import section, simply go to the Admin> Data Import> Create Data Source section and click “Offline event data”. Don’t worry if you don’t see it enabled yet as it is being rolled out across all accounts.

The CSV to be imported includes mandatory fields and other optional fields which, however, must both imply a very specific scheme, which I report below, together with examples.

Mandatory Fields

Other Fields

Now that we have seen a couple of examples, we need to create the event schema, in CSV format, to be imported.

Below is an example of a schema while immediately below you can find the link to the spreadsheet – as much complete as possible – to be copied, downloaded and transformed into CSV.

Here is the link for the full spreadsheet outline (as you understand, I’m a huge fan of the NBA and GSW).

Now all you have to do is importing the file and the mapping will be generated automatically

Once mapped and imported it will take around 24h for the changes to take effect.

Limitations of GA4 offline event import

Obviously the import has some limitations:

  • “Reserved” type events, parameters and user properties cannot be used as the file will be rejected. For reserved we can say that it refers to the main default instances collected by GA4. At the following link the complete listing.
  • Item event parameters that do not include a value will be rejected. At the moment there is support for the type E-commerce, Jobs and Travel.
  • All other rules that already exist for events, parameters and user properties apply.

Expectations on GA4 offline event import

Compared to what has been released so far, the GA4 offline import event feature represents a big step forward. Just think of being able to pour all the data into BigQuery or analyze it through the analysis hub of Google Analytics 4. You will certainly gather truly detailed data about your users and connecting online and offline easily within a single platform.

Now I’m expecting support to be extended to all types of recommended events and for new and further developments on how events are imported.

Have you already thought about how you could use it? Let me know in the comments!

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