An overview of free form exploration reports in GA4

Data Analytics

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has introduced a new type of report called Free Form Exploration. This report allows users to explore their data in a more flexible and customizable way, giving them the ability to dig deeper and uncover insights that might have been hidden otherwise. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key features of Free Form Exploration reports and how they can help you better understand your website or app performance.

To access Free Form Reports in GA4, navigate to Exploration then select Free Form.

Customization Options

One of the most significant advantages of Free Form Exploration reports is the ability to customize the report’s dimensions and metrics to suit your needs. You can select up to five dimensions and ten metrics to include in your report, providing you with an in-depth view of your data.

The report is split into 3 different sections:

1. Variables

This section is typically static across all exploration report types. The variable section includes a date widget, segments, dimensions, and metric subsections. In order to access any metric or dimension you need to import the metric or dimension first prior to adding it to a report. To do this simply click the “+” icon next to the dimension or metric then search for the value you are looking for then import.

2. Tab Settings

The tab setting section is unique for every exploration or visualisation setting. For Free Form reports specifically, the tab settings section allows you to compare different segments, add rows (dimensions), values (metrics), and columns across different visualisations. The most common visualisation type is a table but you can also use a donut chart, line chart, scatter plot, bar graph or geocode. You can add multiple values for each attribute (segment, dimension or metric) based on your comparison needs. The one thing to note is that columns work best where the underlying dimensions have few unique values for example device category.

The tab settings section also has a cell type feature that changes the display of metric values in the visualisation. You can choose to have a bar chart, heat map of plain text.

3. Report Output

The report output is the section where the report is rendered. This section allows you to visualise the report and make decisions based on the data resented in the visualisation.

Combining the above customisation features allows you to build a huge range of reports based on your preference. For example, you can create a report that shows the number of sessions by country, device category, and page title. You can also add filters to your report to further refine your analysis. This level of customization can help you answer specific questions about your data and gain insights that would be difficult to obtain from other reports.

Segment Your Data

Another essential feature of Free Form Exploration reports is the ability to segment your data. Segmentation allows you to break down your data into smaller subsets based on specific criteria. For example, you could create a segment that includes only users who visited your site from a specific country or users who made a purchase during a particular period.

By segmenting your data, you can gain a better understanding of how different groups of users interact with your website or app. This information can help you identify areas where you need to make improvements to enhance user experience and increase conversions.

To create a segment click the “+” icon above the segment section, a new dialog box will open providing you with multiple segment options – user segment, Session Segment and Event Segments. You can also access suggested segments or segment templates.

We tend to use session segments more than the other two options so I have selected session segments below.

Once you have selected session segments, you need to enter your segment conditions and name your segment. In this case, I want to build a segment for users that have added to cart so I search for add-to-cart events as this will include all sessions with add-to-cart. Then I name my segment “Add to Cart Session Segment”.

Collaborate with Others

Finally, Free Form Exploration reports allow you to collaborate with others by sharing your reports with team members or stakeholders. You can grant different levels of access to each user, depending on their role and responsibilities.
For example, you might give a marketing manager full access to the report, allowing them to make changes and analyze the data in detail. On the other hand, you might give a developer access to view the report only, allowing them to see the data but not make any changes.

To share a report, click the share icon on the top right of the report builder. You will then see a dialog box confirming your sharing options. Please note that GA$ exploration reports are only shared in “read-only” mode.


Free Form Exploration reports are a powerful tool for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of their website or app performance. With their customization options, segmentation capabilities, visualizations, and collaboration features, these reports can help you identify areas of improvement and make data-driven decisions that improve your website or app’s overall performance.



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