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3 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Google GA4 Auto-Migration

Gloom, doom, and all the FUD you can get. The "analytics apocalypse" is nigh!

What’s really going on? Google is (apparently) sticking to its schedule to sunset Google Analytics (UA) on July 1, 2023. With a substandard rollout and feature disparity, many have wondered about the date being pushed back. Google will do its best to stick to its deadline and stop collecting data on GA3/UA by the date defined.

We’d like to address GA4 and 3 reasons why you need to take action by not approaching the lazy way to move Google Analytics (UA) to GA4.

First, What is GA4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google's web analytics service. It provides a new, more advanced way to measure user activity and engagement on websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. GA4 launched in October 2020 as an upgrade to the previous Google Analytics, Universal Analytics (UA).

GA4 provides a more comprehensive view of user behavior across different devices and platforms. It includes features such as cross-device tracking, enhanced measurement of events and conversions, and improved data privacy controls. GA4 also offers machine learning (ML) capabilities that help businesses gain deeper insights into user behavior and improve marketing efforts.

One of the main differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics is the data model. GA4 uses an event-based data model, meaning all user interactions get treated as events that can be tracked and analyzed. The data modeling makes it easier to measure user behavior across different platforms and devices.

GA4 is a powerful analytics tool for businesses that want to understand user behavior and optimize their digital marketing efforts. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a mission-critical tool that offers a comprehensive view of website user interaction, improves customer understanding, identifies areas for optimization, and empowers data-driven decision-making for maximized ROI and growth strategy.

Second, What is Auto-Migration?

Sit back and relax. Google’s got your GA4 back! The deadline to opt out of auto-migration is February 28, 2023.

Google recently sent emails to all Google Analytics (GA3/UA) customers that stated

“If you haven't created a new Google Analytics 4 property, the Setup Assistant will soon create one for you configured with some of the same basic features and events that you set in your corresponding Universal Analytics property. But this Google Analytics 4 property will not be configured to meet your specific business goals, and may not capture all the historical data you need.”

Google is trying to cover the inaction of customers with an automatic migration (see the phrase “basic” in their notice) that should at least allow users to capture the "basic" information needed to make analytics remain somewhat functional.

Reason #1 - Automation for Everyone

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to data and analytics. By choosing to auto-migrate, you risk a complete failure of your analytics data. Goals, audiences, filters, and more are customized for each business (or web property). Expecting to see a script (essentially) to copy the settings and data from UA over to GA4 and ensure that data is intact and accurate is setting the bar way too high.

The utility of the GA4 platform will be less valuable, even if you’re simply using Google Analytics out of the box, with no customizations, filters, rules, audiences, etc.

Again, there is no such thing as a one size fits all for Google Analytics. The same goes for GA4.

Reason #2 - Outdated Settings

There has been a complete overhaul of the data collection and reporting functions of GA4 vs. UA.

Take “Events,” for instance... GA4 event tracking limits you to 50 custom dimensions and 50 custom metrics. As a result, you may accidentally copy outdated/unused events, missing out on critical new events/actions that need to track accurately.

The same outdated information may come from your list of users with access to the account/property. Working with multiple users internally and with external agencies or contractors may cause data breach implications. Avoid automation, and you can ensure your access controls are current and avoid any data being leaked beyond those who should have access.

Reason #3 - New Settings

Many new settings in GA4 should be implemented right at the start. You must complete all of these acknowledgments to ensure your data collection efforts work at their best. For example, you won’t be able to retrieve historical data points until you enable these settings. Some of these are settings that give visibility to critical attribution windows, demographic data, and more.

What Are My Options to Avoid These Issues?

First things first… time is not on your side. If you rely on Google Analytics, you must take action immediately—the Feb 28, 2023, deadline to opt out matters.

  • Option #1 - Do Nothing, Auto-Migrate
  • Option #2 - Migrate Your Data and Settings Yourself
  • Option #3 - Hire a Reputable Source to Migrate for You

Option #1 - Do Nothing, Auto-Migrate

This is your most straightforward option. Do nothing, and Google will auto-migrate your GA3/UA data to a “basic” GA4 property. You can always come back and address the property & data collection after the unsettling and impending deadline has lapsed. The world will not blow up, but you will have gaps and potential side effects from this choice.

Option #2 - Migrate Your Data and Settings Yourself

Google has tried to make this pretty straightforward. They have provided a step-by-step guide that will allow you to leap into GA4 with fresh data collection, decent reporting, and (hopefully) an entire data set.

Update 02/28/2023: Use this quick SoP/Guide to script and opt out for all properties (UA/GA3) that you manage in a single click.

Option #3 - Hire a Reputable Source to Migrate for You

This is our preferred method. Because GA4 only collects data moving forward, we recommend getting it right the first time. We have been working with GA4 since the end of 2020. We have migrated all of our existing clients over to GA4 and successfully ensured the data collection has been rock solid - since day 1. As new features are released to GA4 (capabilities & settings), we retroactively implement the changes on our client GA4 properties.

Our approach has always been - we manage your analytics, and you manage your business.

It would be a part-time job for any manager or business owner to keep up with the frequent updates regarding GA4. So let us do the heavy lifting for you. Contact us to see how we can help, or choose one of the options below to get started.

YES! Help Me, Please!