The Great Migration: Universal Analytics vs GA4


Welcome to the great data migration! If you haven’t done so already, we really recommend shifting your existing web properties over to the new version of Google Analytics. We’ve put together this short guide to help you start your journey safely and accurately.

GA4 is set to replace the current version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics or UA) on July 1st, 2023 (360 version on October 1st, 2023). This means that next year you’ll be using GA4 regardless. It’s important your data is migrated sooner rather than later, and carefully to avoid any loss.

You may be seeing prompts to upgrade to GA4 when you log into Google Analytics, if you go to the admin section you will see a GA4 Set-Up Assistant. If you’re an experienced GA user, following the assistant should be enough for you – however, it doesn’t cover everything and could lead to you missing data that you had before.

Before you begin the transition from GA to GA4

  • GA4 uses a brand-new type of measurement based on events, as opposed to the previous page-view measurement (which used events as a custom tracking option)
  • Google Tag Manager users – tags are different than what you’re used to with UA
  • You will need a new Google Analytics property to store the data in
  • Some data doesn’t (currently) exist in the same way you can currently see it in Universal Analytics

Don’t worry: Your data and reporting are currently safe and will not go anywhere. The majority of data that you currently acquire from UA will be available in GA4.

Migrate in phases

Different types of data (listed below) are collected in different ways in GA, therefore, migrating to Google Analytics 4 will not be a linear process. Due to this, we would recommend approaching a GA4 migration in phases.

  • Pageview Tracking
  • Event Tracking
  • Ecommerce Tracking
  • Inter-platform integration

Here’s our recommendation for a phased approach:

Phase 1: Create a GA4 property that tracks pageviews and “standard” events.

Phase 2: Implement KPI related events (e.g. form fills)

Phase 3: Implement e-commerce events

Phase 4: Implement another custom tracking (e.g. non-KPI events, custom dimensions, integrations)

Once migration is completed, GA4 will run alongside UA and be ready for you to report from should you wish to. We would recommend collecting data from GA4 for at least a year before switching any reporting (including but not limited to custom reporting, dashboarding) from UA to GA4.

Pageviews and Standard Events in GA4

Set up a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property alongside your existing Universal Analytics property. For good measure, select all the “standard” event measurement options relevant to you.

We would recommend: 

  • Page views
  • Scrolls
  • Outbound clicks
  • Video engagement
  • File downloads

Once complete, your website will begin to feed data from events in Google Analytics and Google Universal 4.

Advertisers: Use Google Analytics 4 data in Google Ads

Now your GA4 property has been created, data will begin to collate within your new account. So what’s next? Utilise Google’s reports. You may want to start using it in your Google Ads account. By doing this, you can get more information about your ads and audience, which can help you make better decisions about where to advertise and how much to spend.

To take full advantage of all that Google Analytics 4 has to offer, sign in to Google Ads and do at least one of the following:

Need some help with your data migration? Speak to one of our experts now.