Opinion | 24 February 2023

What to do about automatically-created Google Analytics 4 properties

Sean R 200

Sean Riordan

Strategy Lead

Tags: Performance & Optimisation

GA4 automatic properties hero

Google recently sent out an email and added a banner in Google Analytics to announce that they’ll be creating a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property for users or updating the configuration of their existing GA4 property in March this year.

This reaction from Google is probably due to many businesses not having migrated to GA4 yet, despite the imminent deadline of 1 July, 2023.

To prevent the automatic creation of a GA4 property or update to an existing one, users must opt out via Google Analytics > Admin > ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’ under ‘Property’ by 28 February.

This journal discusses the pros and cons of allowing Google to create or update a GA4 property.

Should I allow Google to create or update my GA4 property?

While it may seem convenient to have Google automatically create or update a GA4 property, there are several aspects to consider before letting it happen.

According to Google:

  • “For the best quality setup and the most historical data and insights, it is recommended to migrate your Universal Analytics property to GA4 before an automatic configuration is created”
  • “Automatically created GA4 properties only contain basic features
  • “Users with a Universal Analytics 360 property will not have GA4 automatically configured”

In addition, it’s not advisable to let Google create a property or update an existing one if:

  • You’re taking this opportunity to reassess and optimise what you measure. In this scenario, you don’t want Google to break your work
  • Your analytics account hasn’t been audited in a while, so you run the risk of having redundant or incorrect settings/configurations being migrated. You’ll be left with a new account that contains confusing and/or inaccurate data
  • You’ve already configured a new GA4 property to be how you want. Google could overwrite that configuration if you don’t opt out, undoing your previous work

You should also keep in mind the following limitations and potential challenges of an automated set up:

  • Some businesses with unique setups may not be able to migrate to GA4, or the migration may not work as intended
  • Existing UA tagging may not be eligible for reuse in GA4, and users may need to manually add the GA4 tag to their site or implement it via a tag management system
  • UA events may be migrated into more than 50 custom dimensions and metrics, which exceeds GA4’s limits, resulting in some events not being migrated
  • View-level user permissions will not be carried over
  • Goals will be copied over from the default view, and if the wrong view is set as the default, undesired goals may be copied
  • Goals from non-default views that are used in ads will also be copied over, as will audiences
  • For apps, the app data stream must be configured, and the app must be set up to send data
  • Sites that use views to differentiate locations may face data stream problems that stop location specific data working (for example mysiteurl/en-us/ for visitors in the US or mysiteurl/fr/ for France)
For these reasons, we recommend that all users opt out of automatically-created properties to ensure a correct setup.

What do I do if I’ve allowed Google to create or update my GA4 property?

If you’re too late, or can’t stop Google automatically creating/updating your GA4 property, it’s important to:

  • Manually verify that all features of the Universal Analytics property, including events and goals, are relevant to keep
  • Cross-check any related Google services, such as Ads, to ensure data is correctly tracked
  • Set the main view used for reporting as the default view

Need help?

If you require assistance with configuring or auditing GA4 properties or wish to train your team on how to utilise GA4's new reports and features, get in touch to schedule a free discovery call.