It's now or never to configure your GA4 property!
It is no longer a surprise for the digital world, Universal Analytics will disappear on July 1st 2023 to make way for its new version: Google Analytics 4 (GA4)!
Indeed, Google does not fail to remind us in Universal Analytics with this message:
So the question one might naturally ask after seeing this message would be: should I let Google automatically create a property for me, or should I do it myself?
Setting up a custom migration requires a lot of thinking, implementation and testing afterwards to make sure that the data is being collected correctly.
In fact, even if GA4 is an incredible tool, especially thanks to its ever more powerful artificial intelligence, it is necessary to make sure that certain functionalities are correctly configured during its implementation.
It is therefore important, if not already done, to plan the migration of your Universal Analytics property to GA4 as soon as possible.
A migration now is also an opportunity for you to review your needs and your data analysis strategy (KPIs) while taking advantage of all the possibilities offered by this new tool to configure your property according to your own issues.
In addition, configuring GA4 quickly will allow you to:
- Be comfortable with the platform at the time of the changeover on July 1, 2023;
- collect data as soon as possible (since GA4 will start collecting data as soon as it is installed) so that comparisons can be made from month to month, or year to year;
- compare UA and GA4, to see what is the same or different, how the data is presented in either platform, what exists in UA and what should appear in GA4, etc.
Our experts have listed 4 major elements to take into account in this migration
1. Technical issues related to the configuration of a GA4 property
GA4 is an excellent tool to help you make informed decisions and improve your company's online performance, but only if it is configured correctly.
Here are the main parameters we recommend configuring in order to get a fully functional GA4 property with accurate and reliable data:
- enable enhanced metrics to automatically collect events
- enable Google Signals to get better demographic data on your users
- choose "blended" identity to better identify your users
- set the data retention period to 14 months (default is 2 months)
- add IP addresses to filter your internal traffic
- configure cross-domain tracking if you are concerned
- link your Google platforms together (e.g. Google Ads, Google Search Console, Google Merchant Center) to optimize your performance tracking
The important thing to remember is that proper configuration is the best way to ensure accurate data to help you get the most out of GA4.
Google Analytics 4 is a complex tool, with many features and options to explore, so leaving this configuration to the experts will probably be more cost-effective for you than trying to do it yourself.
2. Issues related to event settings
One of the other major changes between Universal Analytics and GA4 is that Google Analytics 4 data is event-based, whereas Universal is session and user-based.
The principle is that any interaction can now be recorded as an event.
So by default, GA4 automatically tracks certain events by enabling enhanced metrics. But since these events are automatically created by GA4, their names and parameters are also automatically predefined and therefore not necessarily adapted to your company's needs.
Fortunately, as was the case in Universal Analytics, GA4 still allows you to create your own custom events directly in GA4 or using Google Tag Manager. We therefore recommend setting up this type of event in order to track indicators that correspond exactly to your needs!
Focus on e-commerce: If you have an e-commerce business, this point requires your full attention. The most important difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 for e-commerce tracking is that the "enable e-commerce" option no longer exists in GA4!
This is the old Universal Analytics view and is no longer available
There is a report on e-commerce, entitled "Monetization" in GA4, but the possibility to activate e-commerce as it was in Universal has disappeared.
It is now necessary :
- to have a plug-in,
- or, when a plug-in does not exist or is not yet optimized for GA4, to add e-commerce events directly in the website code,
- and then to set up everything in GA4 or Google Tag Manager.
This complex task requires :
- the intervention of a developer,
- the realization of tests to verify that everything works,
- and checking a few days later that the data is correctly collected in GA4.
Do you recognize yourself in this situation? Our Google experts are available for a free meeting if you want a hand.
3. Configuring your own custom reports
Another change to consider in preparing for the migration to GA4 is the configuration of custom reports.
Indeed, Google has reduced the number of default reports compared to what existed in UA. But this does not mean that we are limited in our analysis since we now have a lot of flexibility to create and customize reports endlessly!
It takes some getting used to the new interfaces before you can configure reports that are operational and possibly identical to the ones you had in UA, but it is possible to get very thorough and accurate results.
This report configuration stage will also be an opportunity for you to :
- go through your UA reports to reproduce them in GA4 before the platform disappears,
- update them so that they are fully adapted to your strategy and the KPIs you wish to track.
4. What happens next?
As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer collect any new data, which means that it will no longer be possible to use your current UA property.
Rest assured, Google remains aware of the issue at hand and indicates that all data will remain available for a period of 6 months after Universal Analytics is removed.
This delay is intended to allow companies to export their historical data, and Google strongly encourages them to do this collection within this period.
Once the 6 months are up, existing Universal Analytics properties will no longer be available, and it will no longer be possible to view your reports or access your Universal Analytics data via the API.
So if you haven't already done so, it's definitely time to create your GA4 property to quickly plan for the transition and start collecting data if you don't want to start from scratch with your data analysis!
Ready to move forward? Let's get started, you'll see, it's not that complicated...