The Great GA4 Migration - What You Need to Know

Google's Recent Announcement About Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

On March 16, 2022 Google announced that Google Analytics - Universal Analytics (UA) will be sunsetted starting July 1 of 2023. 360 users will have until October 1st 2023. All Google Analytics UA properties will cease to process new data, though historical data will remain accessible.

So if you haven’t migrated your analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and all that it has to offer, now is the time to get started.

The Death of a Titan (Universal Analytics)

Universal Analytics (UA) will be sunsetted starting July 1 of 2023. 360 users will have until October 1st 2023. All Google Analytics UA properties will cease to process new data, though historical data will remain accessible.

We recommend migrating to GA4 as soon as possible but believe every user will want to have implemented the migration prior to July 1 2022. This will allow for users to look back over a years worth of data once UA properties are sunsetted.

What is different about GA4?

Google Analytics 4 uses a different data model that is event driven versus the page view hit and user driven approach of Universal Analytics. This data model allows for enhanced measurement and removes many of the limitations that UA has had over the years.

Google Analytics (UA) has been the gold standard for years and many marketers, agencies and businesses have used it frequently and know the UI well. One of the most difficult challenges of the migration is adapting to the new UI. Many of the stock reports that we have used are no longer available in the current version of GA4. 

This is not all bad however, because the new data model allows for more customized reports, answers many crucial marketing questions and allows for in depth attribution analysis that will lead to improved digital intelligence.

When should you migrate to GA4?

Here at Whitelabeled Media, we recommend you implement GA4 as soon as possible but at the very least, you should implement this before July 1st 2022. This will allow for a year's worth of data collection before the final migration, allowing you to look at data compared to the previous year. Most advertisers will not look back more than a year so implementing before this date will ensure you have all the data you need.

Backward pathing reports got us looking back at it 👀

What has us excited about GA4?

It is probably worth noting that GA4 is the newest, latest and greatest that Google could come up with. As such, we are super excited to get our clients migrated over to GA4 for the amazing possibilities it provides. Universal Analytics data was often inflexible, struggled to measure time across sessions and never became an efficient way to understand attribution across advertising channels. Take a look at the cool things we’ve seen so far.

Report Explorer

Path Exploration Report

Universal Analytics has many insightful reports that help us make business decisions. These reports have been useful because they answer specific questions about site performance, conversion rate & primary KPI’s. 

At first glance, GA4 is particularly unhelpful and is missing almost all of the default reports that we use in UA. However, there is a report explorer that allows us to make custom reports. These custom reports are extremely flexible and allow for creative reporting that answers unique questions. 

Here are some of the cool reports we are using in the GA4 Report Explorer.

  • Path Exploration
  • Funnel Exploration
  • Cohort Exploration
  • User Explorer
  • User Lifetime

If you are struggling with getting actionable data out of GA4, please reach out to us. We can help transform your analytics into a digital intelligence machine.

Data Model

Ok, I admit this is something most stakeholders don’t care about, but this is actually important. A lot of what made UA difficult to use was the data model it utilized. In the early days of the internet, people only engaged with your site on computers and through a handful of browsers. Now the internet is a diverse ecosystem that allows access to your business through many devices, instances and contexts.

Data streams are how these instances are labeled. GA4 allows for data streams from android apps, iOS apps and web traffic. This also fails to mention that laundry list of cool system integrations that mesh into your GA4 UI with ease.

All of this is possible because of the data model. Get ready to see page views *and screen views. Prepare yourself for predictive analytics like “likelihood of conversion” and “high probability of churn”. We are stepping into a new age of Google Analytics and the data model is the secret sauce that makes it possible.

Integrations

There are many new integrations that either a) never existed or b) were only available in GA360 (which runs at $150k/yr). Now many of these are available to anyone who wants to use them.

Here are the ones we are excited about from an advertising standpoint

  • Google Ads (not new)
  • BigQuery (previously GA360 only)
  • Search Ads 360, Ad Manager & DV360 (previously GA360 only)
  • Search Console (not new)
  • Google Merchant Center (THIS IS BIG)
  • Google Optimize 
  • Firebase (for apps)
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud (if you’re into that kinda thing)

Obviously, Google understands the manpower needed to manage all of these systems and the difficulty to integrate them. So major kudos to Google for managing these integrations and making some of our jobs better. Please, now do Facebook!

In Conclusion

GA4 is the future of free measurement solutions. It is built for the future and should scale well as we move into an advancing digital landscape. It is recommended that everyone get on the train ASAP so they can begin to reap the benefits of this platform and prepare for the migration/deprecation of Universal analytics. 

If you need assistance with the migration, developing the data layer or tagging structure for implementing GA4, please reach out to us. We love measurement and will go the extra mile to make sure you are getting everything you need to succeed.