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GA4 Migration: Should You Opt for Automatic Update by Google?

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Last Updated on May 11, 2023

If you’ve recently logged into Google Analytics, you may have noticed a notification stating that Google will automatically establish a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property in your account. However, what does this notification signify? More importantly, is it even advisable to have your GA4 migration taken care of by Google automatically?

In most circumstances, simpler seems the best route, however, the answer is more complex.

While it only takes a few minutes to set up a new GA4 property, the real advantage comes from configuring the reporting to monitor the goals that are critical to your company’s bottom line. Meaning, this is when you should roll up your sleeves and handle it on your own. This is of course unless your present Google Universal Analytics setup is relatively uncomplicated and accurately monitoring your goals, as automatically generated GA4 property may not capture that valuable data.

In this post, we’ll go over the recent Google announcement and the next steps to ensure your data is not a second thought.

The following is the complete text of the notification that began appearing in Universal Analytics (UA) properties around February 1st, 2023:

“On July 1, 2023, this property will stop processing data. Starting in March 2023, for continued website measurement, migrate your original property settings to a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property, or they’ll be copied for you to an existing GA4 property, reusing existing site tags.”

Also, users were made aware by an email from Google that you can reference below:

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Diving Deeper into this GA4 Migration Notification:

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“On July 1, 2023, this property will stop processing data.”

As previously communicated, Universal Analytics will cease data collection on the July 1st deadline. This implies that your Universal Analytics reports will not contain any new information, and your historical data will be accessible for only a few more months. After the deadline, GA4 will be the sole Google Analytics product available.

Marketers all over the world are either:

  1. Creating plans to migrate to GA4 now
  2. Avoiding the situation and waiting for an extension is unlikely to happen.

If you are an owner of a business that relies on user data and campaign tracking results, please mention this to your head of marketing. If you need help navigating the migration, we’ve created a free GA4 migration checklist that you can use.

“Starting in March 2023, for continued website measurement, migrate your original property settings to a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property, or they’ll be copied for you to an existing GA4 property…”

The significant aspect of the announcement is that Google Analytics will automatically generate a new GA4 property for websites that are currently being tracked in Universal Analytics.

Unless you’ve opted out by February 28, 2023.

The GA4 migration support documentation provides more comprehensive information, and I recommend that you review it. The summary is that if you do not decline or inform Google how to proceed with your site, the migration process may unintentionally establish a new GA4 property or overwrite some of your GA4 configuration settings if:

  • You have not linked your existing GA4 property to your older UA property.
  • You have not informed Google which migration stages you have completed.

Once more, read the documentation and ensure that you follow the procedures to inform Google of your current position in the GA4 migration process.

“… reusing existing site tags.”

Here’s where it becomes challenging. The automated migration process will use the existing tags and event structures in Google Universal Analytics.

The presumption is that your website has been tagged accurately, and your custom events and goal definitions are perfectly suited for GA4’s data structures. So far, we have yet to encounter any sites that meet this criterion. GA4 is so distinct and adaptable that it necessitates a purposeful effort to establish events and conversions that effectively monitor the most crucial aspects of your customer journey.

To Opt-out or Not to Opt-out of Google Updating Your Analytics to GA4

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That is the question, right? Should you let Google Analytics automatically migrate your site to GA4? Or some other marketers I’ve seen ask, should you opt out and plan a more customized migration? Let us look at both the positives and negatives below:

The automated migration process could be a viable option for companies that:

  • Lack the capacity to undertake a comprehensive GA4 migration but want to start using it with minimal effort.
  • Have a basic Universal Analytics configuration that monitors all the required information without significant customization.
  • Do not incorporate analytics data with other platforms, such as CRM or marketing automation tools.
  • Do not intend to employ GA4 to monitor their marketing endeavors but desire to preserve some fundamental data as a contingency plan.

However, numerous marketers may not want to merely transfer their UA configuration to GA4. Here are some reasons why marketers may choose to decline the automated migration and personalize a new GA4 property:

There are several reasons why marketers may choose to opt out of the automated migration and customize a new GA4 property instead of simply copying their UA setup.

Firstly, the automated transition restricts them to stick with their current UA configuration until they fix it themselves later, which may not be the best approach.

Secondly, if they are using multiple UA goal types, such as Destination, Duration, or Pages/Screens per session goals, the automated migration may not be suitable as it relies solely on current event tracking setups.

Thirdly, if their event setup would create more than ~60 custom dimensions or ~60 custom metrics, the automated migration may create tracking for less important events in GA4 while leaving out others that they rely on heavily within Google UA.

Finally, if they need more integrations with other platforms, the automated migration may not be sufficient as it only includes a Google Ads integration, whereas many marketers connect to data visualization tools, data warehouses, CRM systems, and BI (business intelligence) platforms.

Conclusion: What should you do about GA4 migration?

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To fully leverage the capabilities of Google Analytics 4, we would suggest tailoring your site’s tracking tags and conversion events to your specific business needs. Relying on the automated migration process could lead to suboptimal results and end up costing you more money and time in the long run.

For websites with complex goal-tracking setups or those lacking any goal-tracking, seeking the assistance of an expert may be necessary. Our GA4 Migration Services are designed to expedite this process, schedule a free consultation with our team today before it’s too late.

Alternatively, if you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, our free GA4 Migration Checklist can help you initiate a successful migration.

For more information about Google Analytics 4, visit our Insights section.

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