Making the switch from UA to GA4 with ClicData: A Simple Guide

Universal Analytics (UA) will be discontinued by Google on July 1, 2023. This means your UA properties will stop gathering new data. So, if you haven’t migrated to Google Analytics 4, now is the time!

After migration, there are a few work items to go through in your ClicData account using Google Analytics 4 data. We have rounded them up here to help you in the process. But first, what are the main differences?

On the agenda:

The main differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4

GA4 is different in the way user interactions are tracked and comes with different features from Universal Analytics which can be a bit confusing at first. That’s why, before jumping in and migrating to GA4, let’s take a look at the main differences between the two:

key differences between ga4 and universal analytics
Comparison table between UA vs. GA4

As you can see above, Google made changes to different fields like introducing a more “positive” approach to track bounces with the engagement rate. But also by replacing the goals and transactions with conversions and removing segments from their API.

Let’s now see how you can migrate your GA4 data directly with ClicData for a smoother transition!

Step 1: Create your connection

The first thing to do is to create a new connector for your GA4 property. As the new analytics platform is a completely new product provided by Google, they developed a new API, independent from the former Universal Analytics API.

Hence we developed a new connector to connect to this new API.

Head over to the Connections Explorer, hit ‘Add new’, and search for the Google Analytics 4 connector.

GA4 connector in ClicData

Click on the connector and follow the steps to set up the connection.

Step 2: Setup your Datasets

Once the connection is created, you can start setting up your datasets as usual. Head over to Tables & Views, hit the ‘Add new’ button, and select the GA4 connector that was set up in the previous step.

You can choose to build datasets based on Custom Reports and Custom Realtime Reports.

Smart view options in GA4 connector

Please be aware that GA4 proposes a new tracking approach that measures sessions, users, and events in a different way than UA used to track them.

Hence some metrics will not be available anymore or named differently. For instance, if you used to measure Sources and Medium for your traffic in your former datasets, you would now need to search for the metrics called Session source and Session medium, as shown in the screenshot below.

Session source selection in GA 4

This is the only change you will see when using the new GA4 connector in comparison to our former GA connector. All the other features stay the same.

Set up your GA4 datasets and schedule their refresh in a Schedule. You can use the same Schedule that was used for your former UA datasets. If you need help setting up the refreshing, please refer to our Help center.

Your former UA datasets can stop being refreshed. You can also delete the old connector, as you won’t use it anymore. The datasets will stay in ClicData in their last state.

Now is the time to decide whether you want to create a Fusion between your UA and GA4 datasets to have a seamless dataset covering both the historical data and the new data. We advise separating the 2 datasets, because of the way GA4 tracks traffic now. The method is different, hence the metrics and dimensions are not exactly measured in the same way. For instance, comparing Sessions from GA4 with Sessions from UA is analytically incorrect.

Nevertheless, if you wish to create this fusion anyway, you can do so in a Data Flow.

Step 3: Fusion your UA and GA4 datasets with Data Flow

There are 2 methods possible to do the fusion. Let’s explore each!

Create a Fusion

Head into the Data Flow Explorer and hit ‘Add new’. Choose an input node ‘Fusion’ to start the flow. Select the UA and GA4 datasets you wish to combine and map the fields that don’t have the same name.

In the example below, I have chosen to keep the new dimensions and metrics names: ‘Session medium’ and ‘Session source’, as well as ‘Total users’ instead of ‘Users’.

Fusion node between GA4 and UA

Learn about using the Fusion node here.

This setup is simple to create, but make sure that the dates don’t overlap. You want UA to end on the day before GA4 starts. You can achieve this by Purging the 2 datasets of the unwanted date rows directly on the source.

Data flow output

Create 2 inputs

Another method is to use the 2 datasets as separate inputs in the Data Flow, like shown in the example:

2 inputs to filter on dates

For each dataset, we first filter on the date to avoid any overlap, and then we combine both in a Combine node where columns are mapped.

Combine and map UA and GA4

Output this flow in an output table and you’re ready for the last step.

Step 4: Let’s build your dashboards!

Now the data is ready, let’s proceed with the last step, which is to decide how to visualize the data.

Based on the choices made before, you will either archive the old UA dashboard(s) and/or rebind them.

Create Google Analytics 4 dashboards

If you chose to create new, separate datasets using GA4, this is the method we advise you to apply.

First, create a copy of all the dashboards using the UA datasets. These will be your archive if you wish to be able to go back to them for analysis. Rename them or add tags to flag them as Archived.

Now the original dashboards can be rebounded to the new GA4 datasets using the Rebind feature. Map the columns between UA and GA4.

Rebind dashboard map columns

You’re done! The archived dashboards can stay as long as needed, and the active dashboards will keep offering fresh data for your users, without having to change LiveLinks, Publications, or Binders.

Create UA + GA4 dashboards

If you went for the fusion between datasets, simply skip the dashboard archiving step and rebind your dashboards directly. Here’s an example of a GA4 dashboard you can create!

ga4 traffic report dashboard
Click on the dashboard to see it live!

That’s it! Happy dashboarding!