Starting July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics (UA) properties will stop processing any new hits. This will be in line with Google’s plan to sunset UA and replace it with the next-generation measurement solution also known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4). You can read more about UA sunset, its implications, and what you can do about it here. In preparation for this, Google is providing all UA users with a means to migrate their standard UA properties to GA4, including configuration of the property, web stream, users, events, goals, and audiences. This will be an automatic process unless you intervene and actively decline (or opt out).

What Should You Do?

Automatic migration isn’t necessarily the best solution for making your way into GA4, especially for important properties where you have already invested time and effort in working through the migration “manually.” For high-priority GA4 properties, we highly recommend that you opt out of auto-migration, and instead create those properties manually, after careful consideration of all the differences between UA and GA4. This gives you full control over what gets migrated from UA, how it gets migrated, and the timing for the migration.

Having said that, auto-migration can come in handy for setting up a large quantity of GA4 properties, especially for those that are lower priority. To find out all the details on how the auto-migration feature works, read on below.

Eligibility

Non-360 UA properties that have received data in the past 12 months, and that are not utilizing goals, audiences, or Google Ads integrations, will have until February 28, 2023 to opt out of automatic migration.

Meanwhile, non-360 UA properties that do utilize goals, audiences, or Google Ads integrations, will have one additional month — until March 31, 2023 — to opt out.

Once the automatic migration has started for any UA property, the option to opt out will be disabled.

Any 360-enabled UA properties will not be eligible for automatic migration, so these properties will need to be manually migrated. You’ll still have until July 1, 2024, to migrate, in line with the current deprecation timeline set forth by Google.

UA360 properties will not be automatically migrated.

Existing GA4 Properties

If you have an existing GA4 property that hasn’t been fully configured yet, where you have some settings that could be automatically migrated:

  1. Connect the GA4 property it to its corresponding UA property to ensure that any outstanding configurations are completed through the automatic migration. 
  1. After you have associated a UA property to a GA4 property, you can then go into the Setup Assistant and mark any step as complete.

Steps marked as complete will be skipped during the automatic migration process.

Opting Out

For any UA property, anyone with at least property-level Editor access can enable or disable the automatic migration setting. This will be found in the “GA4 Setup assistant” page:

Opt out of automatic migration by February 28, 2023!

Opting out via API

If you have numerous UA properties that are eligible for migration that you do not want to have migrated, you can leverage the GA Admin API method setAutomatedGa4ConfigurationOptOut to programmatically set the opt-out status to true. You can find more details about that here.

Automatic Configurations

The automatic configuration process will cover all crucial settings, including the following:

GA4 property creation

The GA4 property will derive, from the connected UA property’s default view, the industry category, timezone, and currency. It will also take the UA property name, to create a GA4 property name, and append “GA4” at the end so that you can easily distinguish it from the UA property. For example, if your UA property name is “Merkle Cardinal Path – Production,” then the GA4 property name will be “Merkle Cardinal Path – Production – GA4.”

Web stream configuration

A default web stream will be configured using the UA property’s “Default URL.” App streams will need to be manually configured.

Property-level users

All property-level users for your UA property will be given the same permissions for the GA4 property.

Connected site tags

For sites that are pushing data to UA via gtag.js, GA4 will reuse the same gtag.js and track the same data via a connected site tag without you needing to add any additional code or tags.

Sites that deploy analytics.js, either on-page or through GTM, and use some of its advanced features such as tasks, modified cookies or client IDs, or altered page parameters, to name a few, may need to be manually tagged, either by adding gtag.js directly to your pages or by deploying GTM tags.

Events

Custom events that were being collected in your UA property will be migrated to GA4 with equivalent event parameters. Your UA event action will become the new event name in GA4, and any applicable UA category, label, and value will become event parameters for that event. For example:

UA EventGA4 Event
action: submitname: submit
category: application formevent_category: application form
label: new registrationevent_label: new registration
value: 100value: 100

In addition, the event_category and event_label will be automatically configured as event-scoped custom dimensions so you can continue to pull those parameters into your various reports.

Goals

The following UA goal types will be automatically migrated based on whatever you have configured for your default view:

  • Destination
  • Event
  • Page/Screens per session
  • Duration

The configuration process may use the “Create custom events” feature (found under a data stream) to imitate eligible UA goals.

Audiences

Audiences are migrated over from both your default UA view and also from your linked Google Ads accounts.

Google Ads account link

If you have Google Ads accounts linked to your UA property, then the automatic migration process will ensure that those links are reestablished in your GA4 property. Once the automatic linking has been completed, you will also start collecting GA4 data in those linked Google Ads accounts.

Google Ads conversions

Conversions that are set up in UA and are being imported into Google Ads for bidding will be automatically converted to GA4 conversions. To avoid duplicate conversion counts, bidding on UA conversions will need to be stopped before the bidding on GA4 conversions starts. This is accomplished through the automated process where the conversion action of the UA conversion is set to “secondary” and the equivalent GA4 conversion action is set to “primary.”

UA conversions that are used in a Google Ads custom goal, which is a conversion that uses a combination of both primary and secondary conversion actions, will be removed and replaced with an equivalent GA4 conversion.

Google Ads audiences

Audiences that are being imported into a linked Google Ads account from UA and are used in advertising campaigns will be paired with their GA4 equivalent audience.

Consider opting out for more important or more complex UA properties.

Conclusion

Migration of your important UA properties to GA4 is a must, regardless of whether you do this on your own or if you let Google’s tool automate the process for you. Having your GA4 property collecting data ensures that you have as much data as possible to do things like YoY analysis or comparisons against your UA data and allows your team to onboard more efficiently to the new data model and pull reports. Learn more here about why it’s crucial to migrate to GA4 as soon as possible. Remember, the opt-out period ends soon, so figure out the approach you’d like to take as quickly as possible!

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