Here’s Your Cheat Sheet for the Upcoming GA4 Deadline

Cindy Arthur, General Manager of Performance Marketing

Getting Up to Speed

Believe it or not, Google introduced Google Analytics 4 (GA4) way back in July 2019, as a solution for the “cookie-less future” that is now upon us. While Universal Analytics relies on cookies to track and measure user data, GA4 leverages additional signals like marketer-provided user IDs and unique Google signals from users who opt-in to ad personalization. On top of that, GA4 combines website and app properties to provide customer-centric measurement across devices and platforms.

So now, four years and four lifetimes later, we’re finally preparing to say goodbye to Universal Analytics and hello to GA4. Or are we? Because despite the rapidly approaching July 1st deadline, many brands have yet to take a few basic (but critical) steps to support their move over to GA4.

With that in mind, we asked New Engen experts to hit us with the most important things marketers and brands should be doing right now to ensure their smooth and successful transition to GA4.

Your GA4 Checklist

Beginning in March, Google automatically created GA4 properties for any advertisers who hadn’t yet done so, barring those who opted out. However, it is incumbent upon advertisers to ensure they are set up correctly within their GA4 property, which will vary from brand to brand depending on its unique marketing needs.

Whether you haven’t yet tackled GA4, or simply want to double check that it has been set up in alignment with your brand, this checklist is for you.

Before we get started, be sure to set up a GA4 property alongside your Universal Analytics property (using GA4 Setup Assistant wizard) if you haven’t already. This connection allows you to easily port over existing settings from UA to GA4. In most cases, Google Analytics can use an existing Google tag that is already on your website.

  • 1. Enable Data Stream
    1. Ensure data collection setting is enabled.
  • 2. Setup Conversion Events
    1. Easily import from Universal Analytics using the Goals Migration Tool. UA Goals are now GA4 Conversion Events (note: some goal types cannot be migrated and will therefore need to be recreated within GA4).
    2. Validate conversion volume and revenue against UA once conversion event data has been collected through your GA4 property for a few days. Google recommends checking every two weeks, but it’s best to check in more frequently in case there are large discrepancies in your numbers or events that would necessitate their being reworked or recreated.
  • 3. Link GA4 property to Google Ads
    1. Keep the default option of Enable Personalized Advertising to make Audience application easier.
  • 4. Audience Application
    1. Once audiences have been recreated in GA4, they will become available in your Google Ads account shared library (once linked).
    2. Apply your audiences to campaigns or ad groups where it makes sense to start collecting audience data (remember: apply as “observation” to avoid limiting reach).
  • 5. Download UA data
    1. UA data will be available for 6 months after data stops being processed, but it’s never too early to start exporting historical reports and data!

GA4 in the Long-Term

Before we know it, the looming GA4 deadline will have come and gone. At the outset, the transition will be relatively simple and many brands will be able to move forward with little to no developer support. However, if it has been years since you last audited your Google Analytics setup, now is a great time to bring stakeholders together to redefine events and audiences that matter for your brand.

This is the first major overhaul of Google Analytics so it will take some getting used to. But the benefits of GA4 are clear:

  • Privacy-safe
  • Data modeling
  • Better reporting
  • A user-friendly interface
  • Early predictive capabilities (including customer churn probability, conversion probability, and predicted revenue).

As the customer journey becomes more complex, with less visibility than ever before, GA4 serves as another tool to help brands understand and measure the efficacy of their marketing efforts across the funnel.

Subscribe to
New Engen Insights