Your old Google Analytics (UA) account will stop collecting data on July 1st. You will still have access to your data for a period of 2 years, as of the latest information provided by Google, after that, your account will be gone.
If you’ve logged into your analytics account lately, you’ve probably seen a prompt to migrate your account to the new GA4 platform. It is tempting to click “yes” and be done with it, but chances are you will regret it later.
What is GA4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the new web analytics service launched by Google, built on a whole new platform. One of the main differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics is the data model. It provides a more advanced way to measure user activity and engagement on websites and mobile apps and a more comprehensive view of user behavior across different devices and platforms.
We covered the differences and benefits of GA4 and what distributors need to know, so in this post, we want to cover the potential risks of taking the easy way out and letting Google migrate your settings.
What is Auto-Migration?
You’ve probably received an email from Google with the following statement:
“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 that should at least allow users to capture the “basic” information needed to make analytics remain active and somewhat functional.
Four reasons not to use the auto-migration tool and do your own configuration instead.
1) Tracking Configurations Not Mapped Correctly
The auto-migration tool will take your settings, configurations, and data on your UA property and, in theory, match them to the corresponding configurations on your new GA4 property. The problem is, UA uses a session-based tracking model and GA4 uses an event-based tracking model. The way GA4 measures is entirely different from UA. This difference is likely to cause a mismatch in the mapping of the goals, filters, and audiences, creating an incompatible tracking configuration.
2) Lack of Customization
GA4 is a powerful analytics tool for your businesses that can help you to understand user behavior and optimize your digital marketing efforts. It offers a comprehensive view of website user interaction that can be tracked by setting “events”, which have replaced “goals”
There are a few basic events out of the box that might or might not be relevant to you, so you want to make sure you set your own events and parameters to be able to measure more accurately the metrics that count.
Not customizing GA4 to track what’s important to you will be a waste of resources that can help you speed up the improvements you need on your website.
3) Default Settings Will Cause Data Loss
There are several new settings in GA4 that were not in UA and the migration tool will leave in default settings, will set in the default settings which will cause your data to not be collected or organized in the best way.
In essence, you will lose any conversion, marketing attribution, website traffic, or website engagement data.
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.
4) Ads Performance Can Be Negatively Impacted
There won’t be a GA4 automatic integration with Google Ads. If you are running Google ads, whether Search, Performance Max, or any other type, and your conversion bidding is set to UA after July 1, there will be no data flowing from UA properties into Google Ads so the system won’t be detecting any conversions. This means it won’t be tracking ROAS correctly and spend in campaigns like PMAX will drastically decrease.
GA4 is not a simple tool to configure. While anyone can turn off the auto-migration button and add the code to your site, mapping your old settings to GA4 requires an understanding of Google Analytics and Tag Manager for a painless transition.
If you’re not sure if your tracking is working correctly or need help with any of this, reach out and schedule a time to talk. Our tech experts can audit your current setup, make recommendations if needed, and take care of the implementation if you wish.