So, it’s official.
Google announced that after over a decade they will be sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) properties for the next generation, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties. Starting July 1, 2023, UA properties will no longer process new hits on your website. Universal Analytics 360 properties, the enterprise level of UA, will continue for an additional three months and stop processing hits on October 1, 2023. Historic data will only remain stored by Google for six months.
Why the change?
Google is constantly developing new software and technologies, so it’s not surprising that after more than 10 years they are evolving Google Analytics beyond Universal Analytics for the future-focused GA4. However, this development is not about setting new trends, like when Apple releases the new iPhone. Google Analytics 4 was developed very specifically for the age of cookie-less internet and privacy-focused users.
GA4 is Google’s solution to major shifts in consumer behavior and data privacy. With AI-learning at its core, GA4 will allow business owners and marketers to gain helpful insights without relying on cookies or personal data. In addition, GA4 has access to user identifiers that allow it to de-duplicate users across platforms and devices, leading to more accurate user data and customer insights.
What does this mean for your business?
If you have a website or an app that currently uses Google Analytics to evaluate website performance and engagement, you need a plan of action for how to migrate to Google Analytics 4. Depending on your situation, the next steps differ, but here’s how to get started.
New to Google Analytics?
If you’re not already monitoring the performance of your website – you should be. Tools like Google Analytics allow you to understand invaluable information about your website traffic, including where users are spending the most time, what actions they’re taking, and insights into their overall journey.
We recommend implementing Google Analytics – but particularly Google Analytics 4 – as soon as possible. It’s easy to set up, intuitive to use, and it’s free – so what’s stopping you? This will allow you to start gathering data and insights right away.
Already using Google Analytics for your website analytics?
Now it’s time to prepare for the migration to GA4. We recommend setting up a Google Analytics 4 property to run alongside your Universal Analytics property. This will allow the new property to start gathering data while you learn to navigate the updated platform. We recommend implementing the new GA4 property prior to July 2022, so when July 2023 comes along you will have a full year of historical data to compare back to. Implementing the new property is easy to set up, and can be done in as little as 10 minutes.
After confirming your GA4 implementation is successful, it’s time to plan for how to back-up and store your historical data from Universal Analytics. Google is currently projecting that data will only be available on the platform for six months after the UA property stops processing hits.
If you are using the enterprise version of UA, Universal Analytics 360, you already have access to export your data to BigQuery, a Google-owner data warehouse, and can easily export your data there.
If you are using traditional Universal Analytics, you will have to be a bit more creative. While the hope is that Google will release some more in-depth guides on historical data storage, we cannot assume they will solve everything for us. Many companies are developing their own strategies. An easy place to start is installing the Google Analytics Chrome Extension to export your UA data to Google Sheets.
Already using Google Analytics for app analytics?
Lucky for you, Google has done all the work and automatically updated the Google Analytics for Firebase project to GA4 properties. You do not need to make any changes. GA4 properties allow you to analyze your web and app performance simultaneously and seamlessly at once.
Whichever situation you find yourself in, you’re not alone. Millions of organizations and digital marketing managers are now scrambling to act. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be off to a great start. If you need guidance in creating a more in-depth plan, follow these steps outlined by Google, or reach out to a trusted digital agency (like us here at RDW Group) for support.
The brains behind this operation.