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When to opt out of the automatic Google Analytics 4 update

The Data Handbook

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Author avatar

Juho Kajava



Recently, Google announced that they are going to create a Google Analytics 4 property with a basic setup for all Universal Analytics users in March 2023 unless users opt out. In an email to Google Analytics users, they write:

"For any customer who does not set up a GA4 property with basic settings, starting in March, we will configure one with a few basic settings consistent with the existing Universal Analytics property; this includes certain conversion events, Google Ads links, and existing website tags. Enhanced Measurement will be configured to match only some of your Universal Analytics settings; review these settings to ensure they match your needs.


If you do not wish to have a GA4 property created and configured based on your Universal Analytics property and existing tags, you may opt out."

Google's solution might be suitable for some users with simple setups, but for many, it is preferable to make the transition to Google Analytics 4 (or to some other analytics tool) in a more controlled and purpose-driven manner.

The question is: how should I decide whether I should opt out or not?


As we've made multiple Google Analytics 4 implementations for our clients, we've noticed some common customisations to the setup which warrant considerations of opting out from the automatic GA4 property creation. The following are such customisations:

1. You have implemented custom events in Universal Analytics

The data structure in GA4 is different from Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics has a three-level custom event structure (Event Category, Event Action, Event Label). GA4, on the other hand, has just events and parameters. It is unclear how Google will transform the custom events to the GA4 model.

When we have helped with Google Analytics 4 transitions, some event labels have been transformed into parameters. In some other cases, the categories are omitted, and Universal Analytics event actions are used as Google Analytics 4 event names.

It is also important to ensure that the event and parameter structure is consistent and follows good naming conventions. When this is done in a controlled manner, the data model can be chosen and it is more usable for reporting and analysis.

2. You have implemented custom dimensions and metrics

The custom dimension structure is different in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics. For example, there are no product-level custom dimensions.

3. You have implemented eCommerce tracking

In Universal Analytics, there is a choice between standard and enhanced eCommerce tracking. In Google Analytics 4, you only have events which carry the same information. How the eCommerce information is mapped to events might require some manual work.

4. Your account structure includes views that are used, for example, for different countries or business areas

Google Analytics 4 is able to handle the case where views are used for test and production data, but the subproperty feature, which is often applicable in multi-country settings, is a paid feature in GA4. If one wishes to stay with the free version, country differentiation must be done with filters using custom dimensions or completely separate properties.

5. You have app tracking in Universal Analytics

Tying to the previous point, if having app tracking makes a controlled transition might be preferable. This is because app tracking is handled in the same property as similar traffic as normal website traffic in GA4. As a result, you might want to create a consistent data structure for both.

6. You have a highly customised GTM setup

If your GTM setup is very customised and you have configured loads of internal logic to GTM, we recommend taking a more controlled approach to moving on from Universal analytics.


The changes within Google's digital analytics stack are not limited to the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. Google recently has announced the sunset of Google Optimize and has paywalled some features in Looker Studio. As a result, many of our clients have ended up reconsidering their digital analytics, digital analytics reporting and conversion optimisation stack.

If you feel that your site conversions are no longer up-to-date or that you are collecting unnecessary data, or are missing some data points, the measuring model of your site is not up-to-date. The change away from Universal Analytics offers a good opportunity to update it.

This might also be a good moment to review that your Google Analytics setup is compliant with the privacy regulations, too. Considerations such as this are especially applicable to consumer businesses operating in the EU and in California.

The transition to Google Analytics 4 or other similar product is also a matter of urgency if you have not made it yet. The final sunset of Universal Analytics is around the corner on 1st July 2023.

We are happy to help you with your controlled transition away from Universal Analytics, be it to Google Analytics 4 or some other preferred analytics tool. Columbia Road has experience working with all the biggest analytics platforms. Yet first and foremost, our aim is not just to implement the new tool but to enable the tool to help your business grow and evolve.

The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

Get the book