Google Analytics 4 Upgrade

Google has announced their next-generation analytics platform: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 is significantly different than the previous version of Google Analytics—known as Universal Analytics (UA). Google has decided to begin sunsetting UA next year. All standard UA properties will stop processing new data on July 1, 2023.

Upgrade Process

University Marketing and Communications (UMC) is taking on the task of upgrading campus from UA to GA4. The process is complex, but the end result will be better data for our strategic recruitment and reputation initiatives. No immediate actions are needed from CMS liaisons and other website managers. Additional training may be needed in the future.

New analytics properties and views are required to be created through the upgrade process. As we restructure our setup, we will be able to plan for Google’s total views limit and make improvements.

Tentative Timeline

UMC has already begun collecting basic website data in our master GA4 property will a goal of providing a full year’s worth of data in all views ahead of the required switch-over date. In June, UMC will be re-implementing custom event tracking in GA4 using their new event tracking engine.

Access to the newly created GA4 views will be given out to campus during the Fall semester, based on access already in place in UA. Any new user access requests will be given UA to start and then GA4 once enough data has populated.

Campus can continue to use the UA interface for as long as Google allows it. Even though Google has said that they will stop processing new data in UA on July 1, 2023, they have not yet announced concrete plans for completely removing access to the UA interface.

GA4 Training

GA4 is completely different—and many would say—more complex than UA. Any campus clients who wish to use web analytics will have to learn GA4. Google has published several hours of training materials on their SkillShop learning platform. We expect Google to continue to expand and refine their training resources as we approach the July 1, 2023 deadline.

Common Questions

  1. Will I lose all my historical website data during this switch?
    As of now, Google has said that they will stop collecting new data in UA. After that, they say that you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in UA for at least six months. Given the uproar that this change has caused, it would not be surprising if they extend access to UA for even longer.
  2. Can I transfer my data UA to GA4?
    There is no way to simply migrate an audience from UA to GA4; it has to be collected by the Google Analytics 4 tracking code. Some e-commerce companies with a large data analyst staff and budget are exporting their UA data into Google Big Query and then parsing with Google Data Studio. Michigan Tech does not currently have the budget or staffing to take this approach.
  3. Will UMC be offering GA4 training?
    We believe that Google will be the best at training for their own publicly available product. However, we will be updating our Google Analytics blog post to help teach the basics. If we learn any additional tips along the way, we will certainly expand our post. For the few campus clients who need access to several views, we will also create an overview video or blog post showing how to navigate across the different profiles within the GA4 interface.

If you no longer need access to Google Analytics or if you have any questions or concerns, you can email cmshelp@mtu.edu. Thank you.

Joel Vertin
Executive Director of Digital Marketing