Custom metric data: Transactional values, current values, or periodic summary? (for data sources)


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When you create custom metrics, you select the values you want to use from your historical data by choosing one of the following: transactional values, current values, or periodic summary. Your choice determines the data points your metric will use when calculating the metric value for a time period.

The goal of this article is to help you understand which option is right for your data. If you’re still unsure which selection is best – don’t worry, you can go back and change your selection later by editing the metric.

Transactional values

  • In transactional data, every element, for example, every line in a table, is a unique transaction. Data begins from when you start collecting it and goes up until the present.
  • Transactional data is collected in real time, so it usually includes a date and a timestamp (a specific time within the day).
  • Select this option if you want to include every value for a time period to create a total of values. For example, you may have a spreadsheet that includes all sales transactions for the month of January. In this case, you want to sum all values to get the total values for the month.

Current values

  • The current values option is used for snapshot data. It’s the value of the metric right now.
  • Select this option if your data includes current values for specific points in time and new values replace older values. For example, if you are tracking social media followers, each import (refresh) gives you the current value, which is the total of all values for the time period.

Periodic summary

  • The periodic summary option applies to data that starts at zero and accumulates over a set period of time (for example, a daily or a weekly accumulation). At the end of the time period, it resets to zero.
  • When you select this option, you also select a time period over which the value applies to (hour, day, week, month, or year).
  • The Google Analytics "Sessions by Day" data, is an example of periodic summary by day, where the value at any point in time is the summary up to that point in the day. The last value is the complete summary for the day. Your data is collected again on the following day, beginning at zero. If you choose “Month” as the time range in your visualization, the metric’s value for the month is a sum of the last value for each day in the month.

Video example

Want to learn more? This video uses tabular data to describe transactional values, current values, and periodic summary:

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