Google Analytics 360 to BigQuery

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Google Analytics 360 and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Google Analytics 360?

Google Analytics 360 is an enterprise-level marketing analytics tool for large companies. It's one of a suite of six Google products designed to help marketers get a holistic view of their online marketing efforts. The software was formerly called Google Analytics Premium.

What is Google BigQuery?

Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.

Getting data out of Google Analytics 360

Google Analytics 360 stores data in a Google BigQuery data warehouse. If your analytics stack is also based on BigQuery, integrating Google Analytics 360 data with the rest of your data is a matter of writing SQL queries. If you use a different data warehouse, however, you need to export the data. That means setting an account up with the required permissions, then figuring out what datasets and columns you want to export. You can't export to a local destination — the export file must be stored in Google Cloud Storage. In addition, Google imposes certain export limitations you have to be aware of.

Preparing Google Analytics 360 data

If you don't already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you'll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you'll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. In these cases you'll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Loading data into Google BigQuery

Google Cloud Platform offers a helpful guide for loading data into BigQuery. You can use the bq command-line tool to upload the files to your awaiting datasets, adding the correct schema and data type information along the way. The bq load command is your friend here. You can find the syntax in the bq command-line tool quickstart guide. Iterate through this process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.

Keeping Google Analytics 360 data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

The key is to build your script in such a way that it can identify incremental updates to your data. Thankfully, most data sources include fields like id or created_at that allow you to identify records that are new since your last update (or since the newest record you've copied). Once you've taken new data into account, you can set your script up as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.

Other data warehouse options

BigQuery is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, Snowflake, or Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, To Azure SQL Data Warehouse, and To S3.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from Google Analytics 360 to Google BigQuery automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Google Analytics 360 data, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.