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Google Analytics 4 Auto Migration: Why You Should Opt Out

Google Universal Analytics will stop processing data on the 1st of July 2023, and is being replaced by Google Analytics 4, designed to provide more accurate and detailed insights into user behaviour on your website.

Christophe Goasduff 300X350

Christophe Goasduff

Customer Experience & Insights

With just three months to go, Google will attempt to start auto-migrating your Universal Analytics properties to Google Analytics (GA4), but we recommend that you opt-out of this auto-migration, as this isn’t as simple as it seems.

What is GA4 Auto-Migration?

GA4 auto-migration is a feature of Google Analytics that automatically configures your GA4 properties based on your current Universal Analytics settings. This can happen if:

  • You have a UA property that is not opted out of the auto-migration setting and you haven’t created a GA4 one 
  • You already have a GA4 property, but it is not linked to your current UA one 

Why do we recommend avoiding auto-migration?

Although the auto-migration function will copy across some of your Universal Analytics settings to GA4 such as your users, goals and ad-links, the real downside is if there are any current issues with your Universal Analytics set-up, they will automatically be moved to GA4.

This could become particularly problematic if Universal Analytics conversions are copied across to GA4. Goals in GA4 can be used to optimise your Google Ads. If the conversion goals are not correct, ad spend could be wasted as Google optimises towards conversions which aren’t the right ones for your business.

There are further limitations in GA4 set-up if auto-migration is selected. Some goals, such as Smart Goals, goals that include pages or sessions or goals based on Universal Analytics events cannot be imported. This means that you will potentially lose your conversion points in Google Analytics, which will affect how conversion rates are calculated and how success is measured on your website.

The final issue is that the platform requires some settings to be manually amended, something that is likely to be missed by those using the auto-migrate feature. For example, the Data Retention Period in GA4 is set by default to two months, and the referral exclusion list – which stops payment gateways like PayPal to be viewed as referral traffic – will need to be manually reviewed.

Some settings could even have ramifications for GDPR policies. Remarketing settings such as Google Signal set to ‘off’ in Universal Analytics are turned ‘on’ automatically in GA4 during the auto-migration process. This must be disclosed in privacy policies to be GDPR compliant, and could be easily missed using auto-migration.

What we recommend

With only three months to go before Google Universal Analytics stops processing data, ensuring a good Google Analytics 4 set-up is absolutely essential.

Migrating to GA4 is a great opportunity to both assess the health of your analytics set-up, and start with a clean slate and a chance to review your goals. Google Analytics 4 will only be effective when it's optimised to suit your business and marketing measurement needs, and contains data that accurately monitors performance against your goals.

Whilst auto-migrating is better than nothing for those caught off-guard by the decommissioning of Google Analytics, it could create problems later.

If you haven’t made the move yet, we recommend that you make the switch now. For more information about the changes, visit our previous article or get in touch with us at to support with your GA4 migration. 

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