It’s launch day. You’ve got everything set up and ready to go.
Your website is live, ads are running and bringing users to the site, and the Google Analytics tag is installed. So how long do you have to wait for the data to show up in your reports and explorations?
As a rule of thumb, it takes 24 to 48 hours for data to appear in your Google Analytics reports and explorations. The only two exceptions are Realtime and DebugView, which receive data in real-time.
This applies to the first time you set up Google Analytics as well as to all data that you collect from that moment on. In other words, you should expect a 1- to 2-day delay in reporting for all of your reports and explorations.
How to Verify That You’re Collecting Data
That’s all well and good, some of you may be thinking as you read this, but as a developer or tag management expert, how can you verify that you’re collecting data in Google Analytics?
A good question—and, by all means, an important one to ask. After all, you don’t want a couple of days to go by only to find out that something went wrong with the setup and you don’t have any analytics from the first days of your launch.
To check if your Google Analytics property is collecting data, use the Realtime or DebugView reports. Unlike all other GA reports, which are populated only after 24-48 hours, these two reports collect data in real-time.
If you can see data flowing into these reports, you can assume that your Google Analytics property is collecting data. (Of course, don’t see this as the only check, but as part of a holistic checklist to make sure you’re collecting the right data.)
The Realtime vs. DebugView Reports in Google Analytics
Both the Realtime and DebugView reports are Google Analytics reports that capture data in real-time. So what’s the difference between the two?
|Realtime Report||DebugView report|
|Timespan||Less than 30 minutes||More than 30 minutes|
|Audience||Ad buyers, marketers, web developers, tag management professionals||Web developers and tag management professionals|
|Scope||Attribution, engagement, conversions, users||Attribution, engagement, conversions, users|
|Granularity||You can see data from individual data streams by creating a comparison||You can see data for an individual debugging device by enabling debug mode|
Basically, the Realtime report is intended for everyone, including website owners, ad buyers, and marketers, while the DebugView report is first and foremost for developers and tag management professionals.
The Realtime report only shows data from the last 30 minutes. The DebugView report, on the other hand, shows data for longer periods than 30 minutes, provided that debug mode is enabled.
While the Realtime report shows data for all data streams (or, if you are doing a comparison, for specific data streams), the DebugView report can show you only the data captured by the debugging device.
Where to learn more:
What to Do If Data Isn’t Showing Up After 48 Hours
Okay, hypothetical situation: It’s been 48 hours and you still don’t see any data in your Google Analytics reports and experimentations. Should you be worried?
To give you the long story short, yes, now is a good time to get worried. Something in your Google Analytics setup, either in the data collection or in the configuration of the GA property, is probably broken.
If you can’t see a flow of data in the Realtime or DebugView report, the cause is likely in your data collection. Check your Google Analytics tag setup and any client-side tools for managing consent or cookie banners.
If you can see a data flow in the Realtime or DebugView report, but you don’t see any data in your report or experiment, you’re probably filtering for the wrong thing (for example, a UTM parameter, a URL path, etc.). Check the filtering criteria for your report or experiment.
Google Analytics is a tool for the patient. Most reports and explorations take between 24 and 48 hours to populate with data. So don’t be surprised if there are delays with your reports; this is completely normal.
For the impatient marketers and their developers who need to check if data is flowing to the GA property and everything is set up correctly, Google Analytics 4 introduced the Realtime and DebugView reports. These reports populate with data in real-time.