[UA] About Data Import

Get a unified view of your data
Note: The Event and Salesforce Data Import feature was deprecated for all traffic inside and outside the EEA (European Economic Area) in early March 2024. Learn more about Deprecated Universal Analytics features and corresponding Google Analytics 4 features.
This article is about data import in Universal Analytics. For information about data import in Google Analytics 4, go to [GA4] About Data Import.

Data Import lets you upload data from external sources and combine it with data you collect via Analytics. You can then use Analytics to organize and analyze all of your data in ways that better reflect your business.

In this article:

Why use Data Import?

If you use a variety of systems and tools to run your business, you can use Analytics to join and analyze that data in one place. For example, you can turn separate CRM data, Ecommerce data, and Analytics data into a single comprehensive view of your business.

Each business system you use generates its own data store. Your CRM might contain information like customer-loyalty rating, lifetime value and product preferences. If you are a web publisher, your content management tool probably stores data dimensions such as author and article category. If you are an ecommerce business, you might create catalogs that describe your products according to prices, style, size, etc. And (since you're reading this), you most likely use Analytics to track traffic and performance for your websites, mobile apps or appliances. Typically, this data exists in its own "information silo," unaffected and uninformed by the data in other silos.

Data Import lets you join the data generated by your offline business systems with the online data collected by Analytics. This can help you organize, analyze and act upon this unified data view in ways that are better aligned with your specific and unique business needs. For example, as a web publisher, you could join hits collected by Analytics with data dimensions exported from your CMS and CRM systems to analyze the relative contributions of authors to your site.

Types of data you can import

Data Import lets you upload and integrate information with your Analytics account at 3 different points in the data collection and processing chain.

Hit-data import

Hit-data import lets you send hit data directly into Analytics. This provides an alternative to using the tracking code, Collection API, the Mobile SDKs, or the Measurement Protocol. Imported hits are added to your Analytics property prior to any processing; therefore, your imported data may be affected by processing-time actions, such as filters. Because you are importing hits, this data can be seen by all reporting views for that property (unless you specifically filter them from selected views).

This type of import supports uploading the following types of data:

  • Refund Data—align your internal ecommerce reporting with Analytics by importing ecommerce refund data.

Extended-data import

Extended-data import adds to (extends) the data already collected and processed, or being processed, for the selected reporting views. Typically, this extended data is stored in a custom dimension or metric, though in some cases you might want to overwrite the default information already gathered (for example, importing a campaign's Source or Medium dimension).

You can upload the following data types:

  • User Data—create segments and remarketing lists that incorporate imported user metadata, such as a loyalty rating or lifetime customer value.
  • Campaign Data—expand and reuse your existing non-Google campaign codes by importing ad campaign-related dimensions, such as source.
  • Geographical Data—create custom geographical regions, allowing you to report on and analyze Analytics data in ways that are better aligned with your business' organization.
  • Content Data—group content using imported content metadata, such as author, date published, and article category.
  • Product Data—gain better merchandising insights by importing product metadata, such as size, color, style, or other product-related dimensions.
  • Custom Data—provides support for importing custom data sets.

Summary-data import

Summary-data import lets you sum uploaded metrics. Imported summary data is applied to the selected reporting views after all processing and aggregation of collected data. This can be useful when you receive data in batches some time following hit collection, as summary data import lets you add to or update your information as it becomes available.

Currently, summary data import supports the following import type:

  • Cost Data—include 3rd party (non-Google) ad network clicks, cost and impression data to gain a more complete picture of your ad spend.

Where is Data Import?

Data import steps: select your account, then property, then click Data Import.
Accessing Data Import.

To access Data Import:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property to which you want to upload the data.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click Data Import. This displays the Data Sets page.
  4. Select an existing Data Set or create a new one to hold your imported data.

How Data Import works

Data Import works by uploading text files containing external data to an Analytics property. This information is typically exported from an offline business tool (for example, your CRM or CMS system). For smaller amounts of data, you might create the upload file manually, using a text editor or spreadsheet.

Data Import joins the offline data you've uploaded with the default hit data being collected by Analytics from your websites, mobile apps or other devices. Imported data can be used to enhance your reports, segments and remarketing audiences in ways that reflect your own business needs and organization. The result is a much fuller, more complete picture of your users' on- and offline activity.

How you upload data

You can upload data by one of two methods:

  • From the Analytics user interface, using the Admin > (Property) > Data Import option
  • Using the Analytics Management API

The uploaded data is added to or modifies data already collected for that Property by the Javascript tracking code, mobile SDK or measurement protocol.

How Data Import joins on- and offline data

When you configure Data Import, you create a Data Set, which defines one or more dimensions to use as a key. Data Import uses this key to match values in the uploaded data to values in your collected hit data. The rest of your imported data you upload is stored in the dimensions or metrics you define in the Data Set. Imported data can use either default or custom dimensions and metrics. Imported data can be used in reports, remarketing audiences and other Analytics tools alongside standard data collected by the website tracking code, mobile SDK or Measurement Protocol.

Import vs. collection

Expand the section below to learn some reasons why you might want to import data rather than rely on collecting hit data. Advantages of Data Import over hit collection

Analytics has essentially two ways of gathering data:

  • by sending hits collected by the JavaScript tracking code, mobile SDK or the Measurement protocol,
  • using Data Import.

While you can augment the hit data with custom data by passing parameters in the page URL or using the Analytics API, there are a number of reasons why this may not be the best approach, such as:

  • Augmenting hit data requires a knowledgable developer to write custom code.
  • The data is sensitive, e.g., user data, so you don't want to send it in clear text.
  • The amount of data is large so you don’t want to append it to each hit.
  • The data might not be available when the hit occurs.

Importing data in asynchronous batches resolves these issues.

Next steps

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