Misunderstood Metrics: Custom Dimensions

If you’ve made the leap into custom dimensions with Google Analytics, you’ve probably also tried to make a custom report to segment your traffic with the new dimension. You add the new dimension and suddenly the numbers don’t look right! What gives???


Like several other special dimensions in Google Analytics, the Custom Dimensions do not have a an empty ‘(not set)’ value. If you include the dimension in a report, there is no catch-all row to total up all the sessions that didn’t have a value to display. Instead, the report simply drops all that extra data.  Make sure you check the fine print (light grey text under the column aggregate numbers) where you’ll see a comparison to the website totals.

If you are building a custom report or dashboard, it will be important to keep this context when you start segmenting by your new dimension. e.g. Of the 24% of sessions that had a custom dimension value…

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Discover The Entire Google Analytics Misunderstood Metrics Series:
Next Page Path,  Sessions for Pages,  Events,  Unique Events,  Custom Dimensions,  Count of Sessions, Time on Page/Session Duration

Comments: (moderated, no spam)

  1. Juan Manuel Cosceri

    Hi Team, Good Afternoon.

    I am using the Analytics Edge for free and i couldnt find the category “Custom Dimensions”.

    Could you please tell us if it is a AE bug or if it is about permissions?


    1. mike_sullivan

      The Custom Dimensions are listed under the grouping Custom Variables or Columns (Google’s label, not mine).


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