Leveraging the full Google ecosystem to see the full user journey
This is the fourth blog in our seven-part Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide series. The series focuses on how businesses can accelerate their move to GA4 ahead of looming sunset deadlines — to gain a competitive edge by mastering the GA4 platform’s next-generation data-driven marketing capabilities. You can read the full Guide here.
The key value of Google products has always been their seamless integration with each other. So, to fully realize the value of the next-generation GA4 platform, marketers will need to link GA4 properties to the other Google Marketing Platform (GMP) products they currently use. Linking GA4 to GMP products will enable you to more effectively leverage the Google ecosystem’s benefits, delivering greater context on user journeys across the web.
While not all integrations are currently available, we can already build a list of those that would allow importing media data to Analytics or exporting data to Google Cloud Platform.
Setting up linking with Google Ads
To get full details on marketing performance and ROI calculations in GA4, you’ll need to set up linking with Google Ads. The requirements and process of integration is similar to the one used in UA:
- A user should have the Editor role on the GA4 property and the Admin role in Google Ads;
- A manager account can be linked as well;
- When setting up the link, you can enable auto-tagging or keep the default Google Ads setting for this;
- Personalized Advertising is enabled by default but can be turned off.
Creating audiences & importing/exporting conversions
Once the link to Google Ads is established, you can do pretty much the same things with Google Ads, namely: create audiences and import conversions.
To make Analytics audiences available in Google Ads, you need to enable Google Signals and Ads Personalization in GA4. Other than that, no further actions are needed — you don’t need to select a destination or publish the audience. It will appear automatically under Audience Manager and will start populating data within a few hours of creation.
Moreover, Analytics will prepopulate the audience with up to 30 days of data before the date of creation. Another advantage of GA4 audiences is that Google Ads automatically deduplicates users that are in both UA and GA4 audiences linked to the same campaign or ad group. This makes migration from UA to GA4 audiences even more seamless, with the ability to simultaneously see how each audience is collecting data and make a decision to switch.
Then, you can also export conversions to Google Ads for reporting and bidding optimization. If auto-tagging is enabled for the linked account, you can follow a quick setup process in the Conversions menu of Google Ads:
Add a new conversion action from GA4 and make sure you don’t count it with the same action from UA as a primary conversion. Best practice is to export both UA and GA4 conversions to Google after comparing data between the two systems, troubleshooting any discrepancies, and aligning the tracking to ensure data accuracy.
Integration with BigQuery
Setting up integration with BigQuery allows you to access the raw, unsampled GA4 data, merge it with offline data or other data sources, and use GCP infrastructure for running more advanced technical initiatives. Linking the tools is as easy as with Universal Analytics, requiring just a few steps to create a GCP project and enable the BigQuery API. GA4 also allows you to define the data streams and events to be exported.
A major benefit of this integration is that BigQuery will collect all events and their associated parameters, even if they’re not available in the GA interface (i.e., not registered as custom dimensions or metrics). If you’re comfortable with BigQuery democratized pricing, you should definitely set this up.
Additional GMP integrations
There are a few more integrations currently available in GA4, linking advertising and other tools: Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, Optimize, Search Console, Google Ad Manager. These integrations will become more powerful over time, so best practice is to link them now — as long as this doesn’t impact accuracy of the integration — and to validate the associated features one by one with their respective equivalents in UA.
For example, linking with Display & Video 360 automatically exposes your GA4 audiences to the advertising tool. You can also select to export conversions for bidding optimization. Display & Video 360 impression and cost data will be imported back to GA4, allowing for more granular reporting and analysis. Additionally, DV360 data, as well as data from other advertising tools (Google Ads, Search Ads 360) will appear in the Attribution reports and can be used for cross-channel attribution analysis.
You can integrate with a Search Console property while keeping the existing integration with UA. This can help you analyze data side-by-side without requiring a complete switch. However, linking an Optimize container to GA4 is not possible until you unlink a UA property being used for experiment measurement.
Therefore, it’s not recommended to relink Optimize until you are certain that the GA4 data is trustworthy and can be used for determining experiment leader or until the corresponding functionality (e.g. Google Ads targeting) becomes available.
Next Up: Migrating analytics features from UA to GA4
In the next installment of our seven-part series, we’ll dive into the details of how to accelerate activation of GA4 by effectively migrating audiences and goals (conversions). We encourage you to check out the full Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide here: