Google Analytics 4 is available to everyone now. Analytics users have received emails about upgrading, and admins see prompts to upgrade when they view the property settings. Before rushing to get this shiny new version, marketers and webmasters need to be warned that this isn’t just a simple version upgrade.
1. Upgrading your current Analytics property to a GA4 property requires creating a whole new property and then connecting it to your existing property. This also means you have to reinstall tags or connect the new property to Google Tag Manager.
2. Only basic settings from the old version get copied over to the new one. A lot has changed with this new version of Analytics, especially the way views, filters, and user data is handled. So even though settings such as user access and currency & time zones get copied over, you should plan on spending some time exploring and understanding new settings.
3. Conversions, audiences, events and product links will have to be rebuilt from scratch. While Google promises more upgrade tools will be available to help migrate these configurations, over time, that doesn’t help anyone making the change now. Setting up all new conversions and audiences will take time, not to mention incur potential audience losses.
4. Enhanced measurement is automatically enabled so you can measure user behaviour and content success much deeper than just page views. While this is great news, you need to ensure that no personally identifiable information (PII) will be sent to Google. So, for example, if gated PDF download events include user information, encrypting this will be the webmaster’s responsibility.
5. The most significant change in Google Analytics 4 is the move to event-based tracking. Facebook advertisers will be used to working with Pixel events, but for many Google Analytics for web users this may be a whole new tracking method with new associated terminology. While this is a good move, empowering more granular tracking, it will require some learning and getting used to.
Google’s official blog post describes the benefits of upgrading to the new version of Analytics here. But we’d strongly recommend reviewing the release details, and Analytics help center articles about conversion events and enhanced measurement.