March 1, 2023: By will, by necessity and forced by Google, do you take GA4?

After 6 months with GA4 in Data Analytics, the 2022 trial marriage is coming to an end. Millions of sites around the world are putting on their gala clothes and going to the Registrar for a planetary ceremony. Yes, on March 1, 2023, Google automatically moves site properties from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. What does this monogamous marriage entail?

Liviu Taloi – Data Insights Manager DWF presented throughout 2022 what the move to GA4 means for ecommerce companies and beyond. Every business website is impacted by this change, and the benefits of migrating to GA4 were discussed at DWF with all agency clients, collaborators and companies interested in migrating to GA4 with the help of our specialists. Find here the main topics about Google Analytics 4, as we have been reviewing them over the last year. What’s next?

Together, in traffic and reach, until Google splits you up. What happens if you don’t say yes? First, as of July 1, 2023 the traffic you now measure through GA3/Universal Analytics will be frozen and reduced to zero visits per day, or zero orders per day. Secondly, from 1 January 2024 you will lose access to historical Analytics data.

Two things are clear: time is up and there is no turning back. The transition to GA4 must be made, otherwise you lose your historical data and your sites suddenly become amnesiac. Their “memories” disappear, and appointments with all customers remain “always on first access”…

Google has further complicated the “problem data” by launching auto-migration, which includes a basic setup, for a fast forward transition to GA4, when only 20% of the Top 1 million sites have already implemented Google Analytics 4.

Caught with unmade themes and unmigrated sites, companies are faced with a complicated choice. Do they go for the last-minute Google-issued version, as a free, one-size-fits-all lifeline, or do they manage the transition to GA4 themselves?

The answer is clear: there are no shortcuts or miracle solutions, valid for all domains and sites. The lazy run more or, in other words, a superficial approach to switching to GA4 for the sake of convenience and for the sake of a quick fix actually means postponing the problem and, moreover, worsening the situation by irreversibly degrading the accuracy and relevance of historical data in the sites.

Yes, it’s an extra headache for your business, already hard-pressed by fiscal, financial, staffing, sales and delivery issues. Are you thinking you don’t have people to deal with it, it’s not that important, and you have a basic AU structure anyway, and the changes won’t affect you significantly? That you don’t use Analytics data for other platforms, for example a CRM? That you actually don’t even have that many metrics set up and that you’re good at marketing, you just know your customers, right? Well, you don’t. It’s just the opposite.

Automatically transitioning to GA4 restricts you to your current UA configuration until it’s changed by Google later, which is not okay, because it leaves you in the dark. If you’re using multiple target types in UA (Destination, Duration, Pages/Screens per session), auto-migration doesn’t help, because it relies strictly on the tracking settings for current events.

You risk losing tracking for important events and keeping the ones irrelevant to your business. And if you decide later that it’s time to do more integrations with other platforms, the automatic migration becomes self-sabotaging because it only includes a Google Ads integration. And you, as a marketer, need connections to data visualization tools, data warehouses, CRM systems, and business intelligence platforms.
The situation is clear, as in a well-configured Data Report: each firm needs to take on GA4 migration in a customized way. With everything: integrating Google Tag Manager into the site, implementing the GA4 ecommerce schema, checking settings, running reports on the new GA4 tracking system in Google Data Studio.

That’s what you have to do, otherwise you risk site clutter, privacy and data accuracy issues, a decrease in Google Ads effectiveness, loss of customizations for events and goals set in UA, inconsistencies in site property settings.

How to avoid auto-migration offered by Google? Access all old UA properties and uncheck the “automatic update” option, preset for March 1, 2023. Check “No” in the pop-up window that appears in the respective GA4 property.

How to manage the migration to GA4 to take full advantage of the new Google Analytics property?

Here are 5 steps to take in 2023 for all your websites:

  • Schedule Measurement Planning for the transition to GA4;
  • Implements New Tagging for GA4;
  • Creates a new data reporting structure connected to GA4;
  • Performs legacy data export from Universal Analytics (UA) properties;
  • Take a GA4 course run by a Data Analytics specialist firm to guide you through the migration of tracking from UA/GA3 to GA4.

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