Google Universal Analytics has been the gold standard in tracking website performance and at an amazing price point – FREE. The ability to automatically collect key website data, create customised reports and truly measure how your website is performing, has transformed websites. It’s no wonder that over 50% of all websites are using Google Analytics.
However, big changes are on the horizon. Back in 2020, Google announced Google Analytics 4, the next iteration. This spells the end of Universal Analytics, and as of the 1 July 2023 Universal Analytics will no longer be collecting data. So, what does this mean? What will happen to my data? What do I need to do?
What is Google Analytics 4?
As we have said Google Analytics 4 (to save time, let’s just say GA4), is the next iteration, and it is significantly different from Universal Analytics.
Firstly, the first big difference you would notice is the user-interface. The new interface is designed on how and what the new analytics tracks. “Events” are the new thing, e.g. in Universal Analytics a Page view is a hit type, in GA4 this is classed as an Event. Events are considered a different data model, therefore, it’s better not to collect data with the same mind set as Universal Analytics.
There are also additional changes to how the data in GA4 is modelled, with significant use of machine learning to fill in gaps created by users not allowing cookies 🍪.
This is truly the crux of GA4s existence, consumer privacy, GA4 is designed to allow marketers (and google) to collect data about users while being on the right side of GDPR laws.
GA4 should also be easier to use for marketers, with the ability to edit, fine tune and track events in the interface, whereas Universal Analytics required modifying analytic code or gtag.js scripts.
Find out more about the difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics.
What does this mean?
This all sounds great, and you may be thinking, I have lots of time before the changeover! Unfortunately, you are wrong! GA4 won’t have any past data! So for that smooth transition from Universal Analytics to GA4, get it set up and allow the data to build, so that when Universal Analytics is switched off, you have data that you can accurately compare to (GA4 and Universal Analytics, have different data collection models, and therefore may not match).
What will happen to my data in Universal Analytics?
From the 1 July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop collected data 😢. Google should allow access to Universal Analytics data for potentially 3-6 months, so it really important that you export out your data and store securely (SharePoint).
How to setup Google Analytics 4?
This is a relatively simple process, and Google have created a step-by-step guide to help you thought the process.
So now is the time to say – Hello Google Analytics 4!! 👋