Why Google will shelf Universal Analytics in place of GA4

It’s the end of an era for Universal Analytics, as Google recently announced plans to shut it down in favour of its fresher Google Analytics counterpart, GA4 in 2023.

If you currently track and measure your website on Universal Analytics, here’s the guts of what you need to know.

Why is Google pulling the plug to Universal Analytics?

Google explains on its support page that “Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.” It’s a method of measurement that’s quickly becoming obsolete.

What’s it being replaced with?

Google will now be concentrating their efforts on the newer version of Google Analytics – GA4. Dubbed by Google as the ‘next-generation measurement solution’, it was originally released in October 2020 with the promise of predictive insights, deeper integration with Google Ads and cross-device measurement capabilities.

“Google Analytics 4 has the flexibility to measure many different kinds of data, delivering a strong analytics experience that’s designed for the future. It allows businesses to see unified user journeys across their websites and apps, use Google’s machine learning technology to surface and predict new insights, and most importantly, it’s built to keep up with a changing ecosystem.”

GA4 is different to its end of life predecessor in that it runs across platforms, doesn’t rely on cookies and uses an event-based data model for measurement. On the positive privacy side of things, it also doesn’t store IP addresses.

When exactly is it happening?

From 1 July 2023, Google will no longer support Universal Analytics, which means it will stop processing new hits. You can still use and collect data from the platform until then, however Google recommends you make the switch to GA4 sooner rather than later, so you can get all your ducks in a row.

Your data will still be available for at least 6 months after 1 July. Just make sure you export your historical reporting within this time so that you don’t lose any important data.

Why you should adopt GA4 now

Even though it’s all still a year away, we encourage you to start making the shift now. You’ll need to manually transition your tags and reporting settings across to GA4, which can take a bit of time. This is something we can help with!

Switching over to GA4 now also means you’ll start tracking the metrics important to you, and build the historical data you want ahead of the Universal Analytics shutdown. The more familiar you become with GA4 now, the easier the transition will become next year.

How do I know if I’m running on a Universal Analytics platform?

If you created your property before 14 October 2020, it’s likely you’re using a Universal Analytics property. Anything after this date and you’re probably already on the Google Analytics 4 property, so you don’t need to do anything.

If you’re still unsure, you can check by logging into GA. In the top left corner, click the down arrow to open the property selector. The left-most column lists your accounts, and the next column contains your properties. The property you currently have open is highlighted in grey. If the property ID starts with UA and ends with a number (UA-XXXXXXXXX-1) then you’re running a Universal Analytics property. If the ID property only has numbers, then you’re using GA4.

Need help making the switch to Google Analytics 4?

The team at Cloud Cartel has a lot of experience in Google Analytics 4. If you need help making the switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, get in touch with us. We can implement your new tracking environment for an enriching GA4 experience. We’re just a tap, click or call away.

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