Developing a plan for legacy data access is an important step in planning to transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. Search Discovery has created a solution to help make legacy data accessible so that clients can run reports that span data sets, whether they have data in BigQuery or not. Read on to learn more.
Even before Google announced its plans to sunset UA, folks were transitioning to GA4. Now, for many companies, increased pressure to make the move has them searching for strategies and solutions to make the transition easier.
But folks have questions, and one of the big ones is “How will I keep up my reporting continuity.” This is a challenge because Google Analytics 4 is event driven, compared to its more hit-driven predecessor. The schemas of the two are even different. This means that when you make the switch, without careful planning, your reporting will break. Here’s how we help clients avoid that and maintain data continuity.
Before you implement GA4, know how to plan
When we help clients transition to GA4, before we implement, we plan. This is a multistep process in which we first research the current state of site and/or app data to identify current reporting, data gaps in the current setup, integrations and dependencies with other systems, and the maintainability and reliability of the current data collection.
Next, we help clients create a measurement plan and prioritized questions. This phase builds off of research in the previous step to identify key audiences and stakeholder groups and to identify KPIs that answer these individuals’ business questions about the site. Once KPIs are determined, we help clients formulate and prioritize a master list of questions that are expected to be answerable using GA4.
Armed with this research, measurement plan, and prioritized questions, we can then help a client determine whether to migrate or start fresh. Of course, this is different for every client, and each of the preceding steps that inform this decision is simplified here to get at the crux of this post.
(Senior Analytics Director Tim Wilson is, in fact, writing an entire chapter on the intricacies of this planning process for our upcoming Compete Guide to GA4, so be sure to bate your breath for that sweet eventuality.)
Develop a plan for historic data access
Regardless of whether a client plans to migrate or start fresh, the next step in planning your GA4 implementation is to determine how, when, and where you’ll access historic data. When you migrate to GA4, you create a new property that starts collecting data after you install the new tags or Firebase SDK. This can create several challenges:
- You cannot import Universal Analytics data into the Google Analytics 4 user interface
- Month-over-month comparisons are not possible until you’ve been running GA4 for two months, and year-over-year comparisons are only available for those who fully installed GA4 by July 1, 2022 (because Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023)
If you’ve been losing sleep over this, then you’re in luck. Search Discovery has created a solution that helps you get access to your raw Universal Analytics data (if you haven’t already enabled the BigQuery integration) and then converts it to the new Google Analytics 4 schema. This means that you can create reports in your BI tool that span property types.
Google Analytics Historic Data Migration: Two versions of a vital solution
Search Discovery currently offers the historic data migration to any customer who previously collected data in Universal Analytics, regardless of whether they used GA360 in the past or not!
Historic Data Migration for GA360 Customers
If you already have data in BigQuery because you purchased 360, then our team will map the Universal Analytics data to the new GA4 schema. Once the historical data is in the new schema, the queries in your BI tool can run across all data sets, allowing UA data to live with GA4 data!
Historic Data Migration for Free GA Customers
If you were previously on the free version but plan to upgrade to the New GA360 (the enterprise version of Google Analytics 4), then we can still do this for you with one small extra step. In your case, you will need to sign a one-month contract to upgrade your free UA property to 360, and then initiate the 13-month backfill in BigQuery. After 1 month, we cancel 360 for Universal Analytics and replace it with a New GA360 contract (for GA4). At this point, all data from both properties is in BigQuery, and we run the same solution mentioned above.