In February 2023, we wrote a series of posts strongly recommending opting out of [UA to GA4] automatic property creation, explaining the risks of accepting auto-migration, and why you should not connect your GA4 property to an existing UA property.
If you did not opt-out of auto-migration and you use the GTAG version of UA, you likely have a new GA4 property that you did not create. Google has been creating new GA4 properties through July and August for UA properties that did not opt-out of auto-migration.
If you see a new GA4 property collecting data, here’s how you can confirm that the GA4 property was created by Google and not by a human.
First, and most obvious, is the notice in the banner at the top of the page:
This property has been set up for you based on your original Universal Analytics property, reusing existing site tags and settings where possible…
Next, you can verify this property is due to auto-migration by going to ADMIN and clicking on Property Change History. Notice the “Changed by” column reads System (migration).
Not only was an Account created, you’ll see Data streams, events, Google ads links and more have been created.
Click image to enlarge to a more readable version
In admin, if you click on other settings, you’ll see:
- Events will include all UA Event Actions from your connected UA property.
- Custom Definitions will contain custom dimensions of Event Category and Event Label. These 2 custom dimensions will contain data previously collecting in the UA event category and label dimensions.
- Conversions will include your UA goals, which are also GA4 events.
Do check your Product Links. If your UA property was linked to Google Ads, you will see links to your Google Ads account(s) have been created.
One last thing … (and this will help your IT/ dev team from going crazy).
If you had been deploying the connected UA property using Google Tag Manager, and you try to find this new GA4 Measurement ID in your GTM config, you will not find this GA4 Measurement ID in GTM.
Because Google created it and connected it to the old UA property. This new GA4 property is running off the old UA property’s GTAG.
If you do not want this system generated GA4 property, just delete it.
If you aren’t sure about deleting it, then we recommend you rename the property so that it falls to the bottom of your property selector dropdown until you are ready to delete it. Since the list is alphabetically ordered:
- Add a “z” to the start of the system generated property name
- Add (Google system created) to flag this was not intentionally created by a human
When looking at the events and conversions in your system-created GA4 property, you might be thinking “It’s a hot mess!” We agree. Instead of trying to fix this Google system-created GA4 property:
- Create you own GA4 property (and do not link it to your UA property)
- Get the Measurement ID for this property and tag it deliberately in GTM
- If you have custom data collection needs, create a proper design based on business decision-making needs. The GA4 data model is much more flexible. If you stay within the UA Event Category, Action and Label structure, you’re shortchanging your insights extraction capability. If you’d like help with this, contact us or check out our classroom or online GA4 training.
- Set up your events and conversions so that it supports your business model and strategy
As of the last week in August, except for UA360 accounts, most UA accounts have stopped collecting data.
What’s your experience with Universal Analytics sunsetting? Drop us a comment below.