Last week, Google announced via email and a banner in Google Analytics that in March they’ll create a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property for you or update the configuration of your existing GA4 property.
You may have already seen the following notification in your Universal Analytics (UA) view:
Although Google hasn’t revealed this, we believe it’s doing this because there are still many businesses who haven’t migrated to GA4 despite the 1st July 2023 deadline fast approaching.
The only way to prevent the automatic creation of a GA4 property/update to your existing one is to opt out via Google Analytics > Admin > ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’ under ‘Property’ by 28th February. That doesn’t leave you long if you want to do that.
In this post, we’ll take you through the pros and cons of letting Google do this for you, as well as providing our opinion on what we think is the best option.
Should You Let Google Create or Update a GA4 Property for You?
On the face of it, it might seem desirable to have Google create or update your new property for you. As stated by Google though, there are a few big caveats:
- ‘For the best quality setup and the most historical data and insights, we recommend you migrate your Universal Analytics property to Google Analytics 4 now, before one is automatically configured for you’
- ‘Automatically created Google Analytics 4 properties contain only basic features’
- ‘If you have a Universal Analytics 360 property, you won’t have Google Analytics 4 automatically configured’
Additionally, if you’re in one of the following scenarios, it will not be wise to allow Google to create your property or update your existing one:
- You’ve used the need to migrate to GA4 as an opportunity to reassess what you measure, so you’ve only migrated some events and goals. Therefore, you don’t want undesirable events and goals to automatically populate in your new property. All your work would be undone! This would also apply to other settings you decided not to migrate as well
- Your UA property hasn’t been audited in a while or you don’t have someone actively looking after it, so you run the risk of having redundant or incorrect aspects being migrated. You also run the risk of this data being displayed in Google Ads if it’s connected to your UA property. You’ll be left with a new property that contains confusing data at best or inaccurate data at worst
- You’ve configured your GA4 property to be how you want. Google could overwrite that configuration if you don’t opt out, turning your ideal set-up into a very unideal one
For these reasons, we recommend that you don’t allow them to automatically create a GA4 property or update your existing one, especially if you want the best set-up that makes use of all features. For our clients, we’ll be opting them out of automatically-created properties.
What You Should Do if You Allow Google To Create a Property or Update Your Existing One
If you must allow Google to create or update the property because you don’t have access to a tracking expert who can create your property, ensure you do the following before March:
- Sense check that all features of your UA property, including events and goals, are relevant to keep
- Ensure the main view you use for reporting is set as your default one
When your new property is automatically created, bear in mind the following limitations and potential challenges you’ll face:
- For apps, you’ll need to configure the app data stream and configure your app to send data
- Permissions for view-level users will not be carried over
- You may not be eligible to reuse your existing UA tagging for GA4. If you’re one of those businesses, you’ll need to manually add the GA4 tag to your site or implement it via a tag management system
- Goals will be copied over from your default view. If you have the wrong view set as the default, goals from an undesired view will be copied
- If you use goals in ads, from a view that isn’t your default one, those goals will be copied over as well
- If you use audiences in your ads, from a view that isn’t your default one, those audiences will also be copied over
- Your UA events could be migrated into more than 50 custom dimensions and metrics, which would exceed GA4’s limits. Therefore, some events (possibly very important ones) won’t be migrated
- Some businesses will find their set-up is so unique, e.g. data from your CRM is being sent to UA, that your use case will not be covered. So the migration will either not work or not be possible
If you want to learn a bit more about the challenges of having Google create or update a property for you, check out the following resources:
- Google: About Automatically-created Google Analytics 4 Properties
- Andrew Miller: GA4 Automatically-created Properties: Should You Migrate Yourself?
- Krista Seiden: GA4 Automigration: What You Need to Know
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to GA4 and it can be confusing. Please get in touch if you’d like support with configuring or auditing GA4 properties, or you’d like your team to receive training on how to use GA4’s new reports and features.
You can find out more about our GA4 services here, or book a free consultancy call with our experts here. Alternatively, leave us a message via the form below, and we’ll be in touch. We’d love to help!