August 3, 2022
Google’s Universal Analytics to GA4 Migration: Why You Shouldn’t Ignore it Any Longer
Migration anxiety is real. Not sure you’re ready for the switch to GA4 from Universal Analytics? Our Senior Analyst Lindsey Flanagan is here to help you prepare.
In the move that everyone expected but nobody really wanted, Google finally decided to force the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. As of July 2023, all data collection in Universal Analytics properties will cease. And if you ever use year over year comparisons, that means you’re already running out of time.
Unlike previous Google Analytics upgrades, GA4 isn’t just a small change to the script or a few nuances on some reports, it’s a major overhaul that will change the way your data is collected, stored, analyzed and reported on.
But hope’s not lost.
As scary as this change may be, there are some benefits to GA4, including tighter privacy controls, automated event capture, better user pathing, and more robust attribution. With the correct GA4 setup, detailed analysis is not only possible, but facilitated. Here are the steps we recommend for best success with GA4:
- Start early: Direct Universal analytics to GA4 comparison is not possible, so you’ll need a decent amount of data to determine if something is significant or an artifact of the data capture.
- Assess your current needs: If all you use is high-level traffic metrics, you might be able to use GA4 out of the box. If you do anything more complicated with your data, chances are that you’ll need at least some customization.
- Add, don’t replace: We’re still working out the differences between UA and GA4 data capture. We recommend running both on your site for a period of time so you have a reference point for new data.
- Use custom parameters: If you use custom events for Universal Analytics, you’ll need to set up custom parameters in your GA4 instance to achieve the same level of granularity, and then send that info as part of a GA4 event tag.
- Get in there and explore: GA4 works differently, and the tutorials that exist are vague. Clicking around to understand how your data shows up is the best way to get a sense of how things function.
- Seek help if needed: Google has plenty of documentation on how things map over between properties, but GA4 has quirks that require experience and time. Reach out to the Genuine Data and Intelligence team if you want to know more.
You’ve got this. (And we’re here to help.)
We hope this has helped to assuage any migration anxiety. If you love this stuff as much as we do, have questions or just want to talk, we’re here for it.