February 28 2023

Counting Down to GA4

ga4 migrationGoogle Analytics is one of the most popular tools for tracking user interactions on websites, and 2023 marks a huge change in the history of the platform. It’s important to have a plan in place to address these upcoming changes:

  • March 2023: Google will start to automatically migrate Analytics properties to GA4 that have not yet updated

  • July 1, 2023: Universal Analytics stops processing new traffic

  • December 31, 2023: Universal Analytics reports no longer accessible

March 2023: New GA4 Properties Automatically Created

Starting in March 2023 Google will begin creating new GA4 properties for existing Universal Analytics properties not linked to a GA4. If you’ve created a GA4 property outside of the GA4 Setup Assistant, you’ll need to link the GA4 and Universal Analytics properties so that Google doesn’t create a new one. It’s likely you’ll be prompted to do this when logging into your GA4 property.

If you have existing Universal Analytics properties that are not in use, you should opt-out of the automated GA4 creation. This is done within the same GA4 Setup Assistant section in the Admin settings, where you’ll toggle the ‘Automatically set up a basic Google Analytics 4 property’ option off.
Immediate steps to take:

  • Create a GA4 property and add tracking code if not using Global Site Tag

  • Ensure GA4 is linked to current Universal Analytics property so duplicate GA4 is not created automatically

  • Opt-out of automatic GA4 creation for any Universal Analytics properties not in use

July 2023: Legacy Universal Analytics Stops Tracking

Starting July 1, 2023, Google Analytics will stop processing new hits to its legacy Universal Analytics platform. If you’ve ignored the numerous automated emails and messages in your Google Analytics property over the last 2 years and haven’t upgraded to Google Analytics 4, now is the time to take action.

If you already have a Universal Analytics property (Tracking ID starts with UA-) it’s easy to migrate to a new GA4 property. In fact, for some websites Google will complete the migration automatically. You can manually create a GA4 Property by:

  • Navigating to the Admin tab

  • Clicking GA4 Setup Assistant at the top of Property settings

  • Click Get Started

This will walk you through the steps of creating your GA4 Property, which will be linked to your existing Universal Analytics. If your Universal Analytics is currently being tracked by the gTag (Global Site Tag) script then that tag will pass data to the new GA4 property. If your Universal Analytics is tracked via Google Tag Manager or the legacy analytics.js script then a new tracking script will need to be added for GA4 to work. Thankfully Google Tag Manager has Tag templates for GA4 events.

December 2023: Universal Analytics Reports No Longer Accessible

After Universal Analytics stops tracking new data on July 1, 2023, you’ll still be able to access those reports until the end of the year. Any dates selected after June 30, 2023 will not show data, but historical data prior to that will still be available prior to the end of December. If your website is like many that have been using the same Universal Analytics for over a decade there is likely data you want to retain. This could range from overall website visits, to views of specific pages, or traffic from campaigns.

While Universal Analytics allows you to export any report as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet, it can be difficult to know what should be retained. If you’re retaining data for several years’ worth of past traffic the standard export feature would require saving multiple versions of a report based on date ranges. ZAG has been helping clients retain their historical data using third-party data visualization tools that can be saved as a PDF.

Let Us Help

While GA4 has some similarities to Universal Analytics it can be confusing for first-time and more experienced users. Reach out to ZAG Interactive if you need help getting your GA4 created or customized, or if you need assistance retaining the Universal Analytics data set to become inaccessible at the end of the year.

  • Analytics
  • Website

posted by
Patrick Trayes
Patrick Trayes
Associate Director of Client Analytics

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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