GA4 filters – Understanding data filters in Google Analytics 4

Last Updated: February 3, 2023

What are Data filters in GA4?

In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you can include or exclude certain event data via a setting called ‘Data Filters’:

data filters ga4

As you can see from the screenshot above, the GA4 data filters are configured at the property level.

The GA4 data filters do not work retroactively. So they will have no impact on the historical data.

Once you apply a data filter, its effect on your GA4 data is permanent and cannot be reversed.

In Universal Analytics (GA3), you can create and use a test view to test your data filters. However, the GA4 property comes with only one reporting view.

Therefore it makes sense to create and use another GA4 property (also called the GA4 test property) to test your data filters before you apply them to your live GA4 property.

Note: You can create up to 10 data filters per GA4 property.

The types of data filters in GA4

GA4 supports two types of data filters:

  1. Developer traffic
  2. Internal traffic
types of data filters ga4

What is the ‘Developer traffic’ data filter in GA4?

‘Developer Traffic’ data filter is used to include or filter out event data that you identified as developer traffic from your GA4 reports.

Here, the word ‘developer’ refers to someone who sets up and fixes tracking on your website/mobile app.

When developers work on your website/mobile app, they need to visit your website/mobile app often in order to debug tracking setups. Such traffic to your website is called ‘Developer Traffic‘.

Developers are not your target audience; therefore, we don’t need to track them in our GA4 reports.

To exclude developer traffic from GA4 reports, we create and use the ‘developer traffic’ data filter.

GA4 defines developer traffic as the event data with the parameter namedebug_mode‘ or ‘debug_event’ and parameter value ‘1’

If you exclude developer traffic using the ‘developer traffic’ data filter, you won’t see that data in real-time reporting since it is excluded.

But you can still see the excluded developers’ traffic data in the DebugView report and validate your implementation using the Google Analytics Debugger Chrome extension.

So the main advantage of using the ‘developer traffic’ data filter is that your developer can continue testing on your GA4 property without skewing your analytics data.

But since we use the GA4 test property, we don’t need the ‘developer traffic’ data filter.

What is the Internal traffic data filter in GA4?

Internal Traffic data filter is used to include or filter out event data that you identified as internal traffic from your GA4 reports.

Internal traffic is the traffic generated by you or your employees, suppliers and other service providers to your website.

These people are not your target audience; therefore, we don’t need to track them.

Internal traffic can easily skew your website usage metrics and must be filtered out from your GA4 reports.

Internal traffic can also include the traffic generated by your developers.

But to exclude such type of traffic, we use the ‘developer traffic’ data filter and not the ‘internal traffic data filter’.

This is because if you exclude the ‘developer traffic’ via the internal traffic data filter, then your developer will not be able to see the test data in the DebugView report.

Every GA4 property comes with a default internal traffic data filter built in. But this filter needs to be configured and activated before it can be used:

default data filter ga4

From the screenshot above, we can conclude that the current status of the ‘Internal Traffic’ data filter is ‘Testing‘.

What that means, the filter is not active yet.

By default, GA4 defines internal traffic as the event data with the parameter name ‘traffic_type‘ and parameter value ‘internal

internal traffic ga4 1

You cannot change the parameter name, but you can change the parameter value if you want to create two or more internal traffic filters:

different version of the internal traffic filter

Filter list

Related Article: Exclude internal traffic in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) via IP filter

Data Filter operations in GA4

Data filters in GA4 can be further classified into include and exclude filters depending upon the filter operation being used:

Filter operation

In GA4, you can carry out two types of operations with data filters:

#1 Exclude: When you use the ‘Exclude’ option, GA4 will not process any event data that matches the filter (in our case ‘traffic_type = internal‘):

exclude traffic

#2 Include only: When you use the ‘Include only’ option, GA4 will process only that event data that matches the filter (in our case ‘, traffic_type = internal‘):

include traffic

Note(1): If you apply both include and exclude filters to your GA4 property, the include filters will be evaluated first before the exclude filter.

Note(2): If you apply multiple include filters to your GA4 property, all the include filters will be evaluated as a single group.

Note(3): If you apply multiple exclude filters to your GA4 property, each exclude filter will be evaluated one at a time.

Filter modes (states) in GA4

Every GA4 Data filter has one of the three states (modes):

  1. Testing
  2. Active
  3. Inactive
Filter state

Testing state

Use this option if you want to first test your filter before making it active (i.e. live). 

When a data filter is in the testing state, it is evaluated by GA4, but it does not make any permanent changes to your analytics data.

However, you can see the filtered data by adding a comparison to your GA4 report that uses the dimension named ‘Test data filter name‘:

realtme overview

Active State

Use this option if you want to make your data filter live.

Once your data filter is active, it permanently changes your analytics data.

Inactive State

Use this option if you want to disable your data filter.

Once your data filter is inactive, it is no longer evaluated by GA4 and no longer makes permanent changes to your analytics data.

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  1. What is GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – The Apps + Web Property?
  2. Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
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  1. Google Analytics Account Hierarchy (Structure Explained)
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  3. Google Signals GA4 – See Demographics (Gender, Age) in Google Analytics 4
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  4. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Scroll Tracking Tutorial
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  6. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Data Import Tutorial
  7. Google Analytics 4 Content Grouping – Create Content Groups in GA4
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  9. utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign Parameters – GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  10. GA4 Form Tracking via Google Tag Manager

#10 Google Analytics 4 filters

  1. GA4 filters – Understanding Data Filters in Google Analytics 4
  2. How to Create and Test Filters in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
  3. Exclude Internal Traffic in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) via IP Filter

#11 Google Analytics 4 Explorations

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  2. How to Use the User Lifetime Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
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  5. How to Use the Funnel Exploration Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Funnel Analysis
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  8. How to Create Google Ads report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
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  10. Organic Search Traffic Analysis in GA4 – Complete Guide
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  5. Understanding Channel Groupings in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  6. Understanding Data Sampling in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  7. Google Analytics 4 Regex (Regular Expressions) Tutorial
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  1. How to Create Custom Insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
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#14 Google Analytics 4 Attribution

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#16 Google Analytics 4 BigQuery

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  2. BigQuery GA4 Schema – Send Custom GA4 Data to BigQuery
  3. How to Backfill GA4 Data in BigQuery
  4. How to Connect and Export Data from GA4 to BigQuery

Frequently Asked Questions About GA4 filters

What are data filters in Google Analytics 4?

Data filters include or exclude event data (traffic) from your reports based on the event parameters value. Using filters, you can exclude traffic coming to your website from your developers or internal employees. You can also use data filters to include only traffic from specific event parameter values. These filters are configured at the property level and are applied to every data stream.

What filters are supported in Google Analytics 4?

Currently, GA4 supports two types of filters:

1. Developer Traffic: Developer traffic is generated from your own device while debugging the analytics implementation. GA4 defines developer traffic as the event data with the parameter name ‘debug_mode’ or ‘debug_event’ and parameter value ‘1’.

2. Internal Traffic: Internal traffic is the traffic coming to your website from your own employees, suppliers, and other service providers.

How many filters can I apply in Google Analytics 4?

Currently, You can create up to ten filters per Google Analytics 4 property.

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