After 10 years in service, Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) is being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA 4), starting July 1 2023.
Don’t be fooled by thinking that this is your standard simple upgrade from version 3 to version 4; GA 4 is an entirely new system that will require setting up from scratch and the creation of new reports to replace what you’re currently using in Universal Analytics.
The main difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics lies in their measurement models. The UA measurement model uses web sessions, and relies on tracking data from cookies.
In contrast, GA 4 works across all platforms (desktop, mobile app) and isn't exclusively reliant on cookies. It uses an event-based measurement model to deliver user-centric data. Unlike UA, GA 4 won't store IP addresses. Such controls are necessary to navigate the new data privacy landscape and are at the new platform’s core.
You’ll still be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023, however new data will only flow into your GA 4 properties.
And while July 1 2023 may still seem far away, the sooner you make the switch, the less historical data you’ll need to export and the sooner Google’s machine learning can start surfacing insights in your account.
So what are your next steps?
- Switch to GA 4 as soon as possible so your GA4 account can gather the data needed for automated insights. You can set up a GA4 property alongside your existing UA property.
- Explore and work in the new interface so when it becomes your only option you know what you’re doing.
- Audit what kind of metrics you’re currently tracking and what is important for your business.
- Adjust your Google Ads conversion tracking if you run Google Ads.
- Map UA custom events and migrate goals and conversions to GA4.
- Export your historical data so you can export individual reports.
If this is sounding technical (because it is!), our skilled digital marketer Hariet can assist you with making the transition and ensure you’re set up for great data insights. Or for more detailed information on every step, view Google’s resources here.