What to do now to get ready for GA4 switch in 2023

You’ve likely received an email — probably several — from Google to let you know that Google Analytics 3 (aka Universal Analytics or UA that you now have on your site) is going away on July 1, 2023. The Newspack team wants to ensure a smooth transition to GA4 for all of our publishers, so we wanted to give you a few updates and resources to help you start getting up to speed with the changes.

The most important point is that data from UA will not be carried over to GA4, so you’ll want to make sure you have GA4 set up soon and collecting data by the end of the month to ensure you have a year’s worth of data in both UA and GA4 to be able to do year-over-year comparisons when support for UA ends.

If you have not yet created a GA4 property, the Site Kit documentation covers this process, and most sites will follow the process outlined in the section starting with “If you previously set up Universal Analytics in Site Kit”.

We are pushing an update that will make GA4 available for all Newspack sites via the Google Site Kit plugin. If you have a GA4 property in your Analytics account, the connection through Site Kit to GA4 should happen automatically the week of June 13.

Once a GA4 property has been created, you will see both the UA and the GA4 property in your GA account and be able to easily switch between them. We recommend continuing to use UA as your primary source of truth for reporting purposes.

GA4 event tracking is not compatible with AMP, so initially GA4 will be collecting only pageview data for AMP pages until we are able to transition Newspack sites off of AMP (or until Google has an AMP-compatible solution). Non-AMP pages will have the default event tracking provided by GA4 in place as soon as the site is connected. But we have not yet implemented a GA4 solution for any custom events added by the Newspack theme and plugins, such as tracking of campaign prompts. We are aiming to have a solution for GA4 tracking on all pages in place by October, including the custom event tracking used in Newspack Campaigns, before the U.S. elections and before many of our sites begin their year-end fundraising campaigns.

We will also have some experts join future publisher meetings to walk you through how to make the most of GA4, and we’ll cover the basics of the setup process on the next publisher call Tuesday. If you’d like to start familiarizing yourself with the differences, Google has a migration guide and a side-by-side feature comparison as well as a guided skillshop course that covers some of the key concepts. 

Once we push the change on Monday, if you have any questions about the transition, please feel free to reach out via the Newspack help channel.