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Google Analytics Cost: How Does It Add-up?

Data plays a vital role for all businesses now more than ever because it sits at the core of everything being done and can help make decisions that can yield desired results or at the very least, mitigate as much risk as possible.

This has resulted in many analytical tools being launched to be used by small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses where most are paid tools with their pricing tiers.

Google Analytics, as the name suggests, is Google’s player in the analytical market and is a widely used web analytics tool by most businesses. Its latest iteration is called Google Analytics 4 aka GA4.

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So, how much does Google Analytics cost? And how can you save on those costs? Let’s look into all of that including the following topics:

  1. How Much Does Google Analytics Cost?
  2. What’s Included in the GA360 Price?
  3. When to Upgrade to GA360?
  4. Alternative Tools and Their Costs

Let’s get started!

How Much Does Google Analytics Cost?

The costs you incur for GA4 depend on which version you use, as there are two of them:

  1. Google Analytics 4 (Free)
  2. Google Analytics 360 (Paid)

The free version is usually enough for small to medium businesses to collect data about how many users visit their website, conversions, traffic sources, demographics, technology, and other user interactions on their website.

So if you use the free version, you won’t incur any costs. However, there could be costs associated with other Google products that you might want to use.

Two of the most commonly used products with GA4 are:

BigQuery

You can use BigQuery to store and analyze data for which you might have to bear more costs if you cross the free threshold of 10GB of storage and 1TB of querying every month.

It’s highly recommended, at the very least, to back up your data so you don’t lose it, even if you don’t plan to analyze it any time soon.

Google Tag Manager Server-Side aka ssGTM

There are many reasons why more and more companies are moving toward server-side tracking with GTM, as it helps to get more accurate data, better security of sensitive information, and faster loading times.

ssGTM costs can vary depending on things like traffic and events, so there’s no calculator to find that out. It’s not the GTM that’s costing you money, but it’s the use of the ‘server’ where your container is hosted, i.e. Google Cloud Platform aka GCP.

If we go by Google’s recommendation, then we should run a minimum of 3 servers to reduce the risk of data loss in case a server goes off.

Each server is an App Engine instance with 1 vCPU, 0.5 GB memory, and 10 GB disk in the Flexible environment where each server costs $40/month x 3 = $120/month x 12 months = $1,440 annually.

For websites with higher traffic volume and number of tags, Google will autoscale to 5-6 servers which can cost you $240 or more every month.

You can also use other servers if you configure them manually or services like stape.io that are known to cut the costs for the same setup to $20/month.

But make sure you do your homework before you jump into any of them, as one way or another you will require a specialist who knows how to do server-side tracking.

There are two more Google products that can be used with Google Analytics but they are not needed to collect and analyze data in GA4. These are:

  • Google Ads (only costs if you run ads which is a separate activity on its own)
  • Looker Studio (to create visualizations and only costs if you get the pro version; the free version is generally good enough for most businesses out there)

But that leaves us with the Google Analytics 4 paid version aka GA360. What makes it different from the free version and how much does Google Analytics 360 cost?

What’s Included in the GA360 Price?

For the most part, GA360 increases the limits that are found for the standard GA4 properties. The table below shows a comparison between these limits:

DescriptionGoogle Analytics 4 – Standard (Free)Google Analytics 4 – 360 (Paid)
Event parameters25 per event100 per event
User properties25 per property100 per property
Event-scoped custom dimensions and metrics50 event-scoped custom dimensions per property
50 event-scoped custom metrics per property
125 event-scoped custom dimensions per property
125 event-scoped custom metrics per property
Item-scoped custom dimensions10 per property25 per property
Length of event parameter’s value100 characters500 characters
Key events3050
Audiences100400
Explorations200 created per user per property
500 shared per property
200 created per user per property
1000 shared per property
Explorations’ sampling limits10M events per query1B events per query
Unsampled explorationsNot availableUnsampled results up to 15B events per day per property
API quotas
Most requests consume fewer than 10 tokens
 200,000 tokens per day 2M tokens per day
Data retentionUp to 14 months
Options: 2, 14 months
Large and XL properties are limited to 2 months
Up to 50 months
Options: 2, 14, 26, 38, and 50 months
XL properties: 2 months
BigQuery ExportsDaily export: 1 M events
Streaming export: unlimited
Daily export: Billions of events
Streaming export: unlimited
Distinctly named events
There is no limit on the number of distinctly named events for web data streams.
Automatically collected events and enhanced measurement events don’t count toward the limits.
500 per app user per day
(for app data streams)
It is possible to see more than 500 distinctly named events if users on different app instances trigger different events.
2000 per app user per day
(for app data streams)
It is possible to see more than 500 distinctly named events if users on different app instances trigger different events.
Data ImportsManual uploads: 120 uploads per day per property
Storage limit: 10 GB per property
Manual uploads: 120 uploads per day per property
Storage limit: 1 TB per property
Rollup and sub-propertiesNot availableAvailable at extra cost
GA4 standard vs 360 limits and differences

If you’re paying for Google Analytics and you still get to make 200 explorations per user per property just like the free version, that doesn’t make much sense, even though it won’t be easy to reach that limit for a single user.

The last feature in the table above shows two other types of properties that are only available to GA4360 but at an additional cost.

Rollup properties allow you to aggregate all the data from different properties into one property so you can view all the data in one place, which is helpful for large businesses spanning different brands or regions.

Sub-properties are inverse of the rollups, meaning they allow you to break your data into smaller slices of data. We can take the same example as above where a business would like to see how it is performing in each region or by different brands.

These are quite handy features and if a business is large enough to pay for GA4 360, there’s a good chance they might be able to get more out of these features.

However, what’s the additional cost of having these properties for your business? You’re charged only for half the number of the events that are collected by the main property.

For instance, if you’re collecting a total of 200 events that are also being pushed to a sub-property then you will be billed for a total of 300 events, i.e., 200 for the main and 100 (half) for the sub-property.

Okay, but what about the pricing of GA4 360? Compared to the fixed pricing Google has had for UA that was kept at $150,000 / year, the pricing for GA4 360 has moved to usage-based starting at $50,000 / year.

This starting price includes 25 million events per month and as the number of events increases, so does the overall price.

Therefore, it’s really important that your tracking is well thought out. Otherwise, what’s the point of collecting and paying for events you won’t be analyzing?

But the costs could add up if you’re using BigQuery and server-side tracking, which is something most enterprises are moving toward.

Don’t forget the additional investment in training and hiring a specialist to make sure this costly investment doesn’t become costlier!

While it does seem that the costs will increase, if the data volume increases by a lot, then you could be cutting down your per-event costs as well.

Another possible benefit is that if your data volumes fluctuate quite a bit due to seasonal changes or sales cycles, your costs will reflect that, so you’re not stuck with a fixed bill no matter what the situation.

You can get an estimate of how much you will be billed in a given month if you’re already a GA360 customer, by using the Bill Preview calculator found on Google Marketing Platform under Administration → Organizations → Usage → Turn on View usage and sample pricing for GA4 properties.

But this is only available if you have already switched to GA4’s paid version and is based on your current data inflow. Maybe the real question is then about when you should upgrade.

When to Upgrade to GA360?

So, all those features and high data limits for GA360 are cool, but when does it become worth it to upgrade to the paid version of GA4? Some of the reasons for upgrading are listed below:

  1. Data Sampling – When you start seeing more and more of your explorations being sampled that’s a signal that you’re exceeding the 10 million event count per query for your property. These limits don’t apply to the standard reports.
  1. Complex Business Structure – If you want to get better reporting across different verticals of the business or regions as well as the unified performance view, then you need the GA360’s rollup and sub-properties features.
  1. More Data Needs – If you planned your analytics implementation quite well but you’re scratching your head to fit more custom dimensions and metrics after you keep hitting your quota, then it’s probably time to get those higher quota limits for custom definitions. These higher limits would also make it easier to collect more user properties, item-scoped dimensions, parameters with each event, and characters for parameter values.
  1. 360 Integration – Having Google Analytics 360 will also allow you to integrate with other 360 Google products.
  1. Quicker Intraday Data Freshness – For 360 properties, depending on the size, the intraday data freshness time is typically 1 hour. You can read more about these intervals here. If you’re looking for quicker report freshness, then 360 would fare better.

These are some good cues as to when you can start thinking about upgrading to the paid version of GA4 aka GA360 but it’s important to understand if the ROI will be higher with the upgrade or if you’ll end up paying more.

Maybe there are some other alternative tools that you might want to consider if you’re in the market and we’ll have a quick look at some of those below.

Alternative Tools and Their Costs

Whether you’re already in the market to shop for a new tool or simply browsing, it’s always a good idea to understand what your options are. Some of the major tools are:

  1. Adobe Analytics – It is the strongest contender of Google Analytics 360 with pricing starting at $2,500 per month to over $100,000 per year, depending upon usage. It offers three pricing tiers Prime, Select, and Ultimate, and offers many paid add-ons. It has no free tier though!
  1. Piwik Pro – The Core plan, which is its free version, is quite close to what GA4’s free version does and the Enterprise plan starts from €10,995/year. The core plan includes Analytics, Tag Manager, and Consent Manager; whereas the paid plan also has a Customer Data Platform along with other bells and whistles.
  1. Woopra – In terms of pricing, it costs much less than GA360 and Adobe. It comes with three plans: Core with 500k actions/month for free, Pro with 5 million actions/month at $999 per month, and Enterprise with 50+ million actions/month with a customized pricing plan.
  1. Matomo Analytics – They are big on privacy and as it’s open-sourced, it’s free to use. However, there are charges if you use their cloud feature which is based on the number of hits, starting at $23 per month for 50,000 hits to $16,900 per month for 100 million hits.

Other honorable mentions are Amplitude, Heap, and Mixpanel. Some businesses use product analytical tools in conjunction with GA4 since it’s free and can be useful which allows them to invest in other tools.

Which one you should use comes down to many variables, but ultimately it’s the question of your business getting the most out of it and how the data is being effectively used. Otherwise, it’s just endless rows of data or some pretty dashboards.

Summary

In today’s post, we explored how much Google Analytics costs, which thankfully is still a free tool. But there can be associated costs if we want to use BigQuery and server-side tracking with it.

We then learned about GA360 and how it differs from the free version with its increased limits and other features, albeit at an extra cost that should be justified by a higher ROI of using the paid version.

But not everyone needs the paid version of GA4, and we explored when it suits your business to upgrade to GA360.

Lastly, we learned about some other cool tools (free and paid) out there that could be used as alternatives or in parallel with GA4 to harness the core strengths of these tools.

Now, it would be a good idea to preview the cost of using GA360 without first becoming a customer with the Bill Preview tool available freely, but unfortunately, that’s not possible at the moment.

So if you’re sticking to GA4 then you might find the User Explorer in Google Analytics 4 quite helpful to understand what individual users are doing on your website.

Let us know in the comments below what analytics tool you use and how much it ends up costing you. More importantly, is the cost worth it?