Google is phasing out Universal Analytics and replacing it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), formerly known as "App+Web". This change will officially switch over on July 1, 2023.
There are some advantages of this new analytics portal and there are a few important things you should know about these changes. We’ll cover a bit of what you can expect.
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
This is the latest version of Google Analytics (GA) and combines data from both websites and applications. All Universal Analytics (UA) properties can be upgraded to GA4 — a new Analytics property is created and collects new data without affecting your current Google Analytics account. You will also be upgraded to GA4 if you have a Firebase Analytics account.
The best thing to do is set up the GA4 property sooner rather than later, and start to collect and process data.
When does this change take place?
Beginning July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data and all data will flow into your GA4 property from that point on. You'll still be able to see your Universal Analytics reports until the end of 2023. You can cutover to GA4 as soon as you'd like, so it's definitely time to start planning!
Perks of GA4
- Google Analytics 4 comes with some notable features and changes that can help you make the most out of your website analytics reporting.
- Privacy-focused and durable for the future
- Intelligent, using machine learning to unearth insights about the customer journey across platforms and devices
- Enhanced, seamless integrations with Google's advertising platforms to optimize campaign performance and drive greater marketing ROI
- Bounce rate being replaced by engagement rate
- Cross-channel and funnel tracking
- Easier cross-domain tracking
- Doesn’t need cookies and is GDPR compliant
- Works out how people are enquiring
- No limit on the amount of traffic available to review
Why and when should I make the change to GA4?
The sooner you can make the switch to GA4 the better so that you can make sure all your data is accounted for and if there are any issues with the switch, you can resolve them as soon as possible. Switching to GA4 sooner rather than later will help you make the most of your data and keep as much as possible, allowing you to keep track of any big changes that may need your attention. Change is coming, and even though it may seem like a big step, getting on top of this inevitable change will keep your site running smoothly.
What should I look for when I switch over?
Make sure that all your tracking is still firing correctly, and that you aren’t missing data for any dates, users, or sessions that should otherwise be there. If any of your data is missing or tags aren’t firing correctly any longer, you’ll want to know as soon as possible.
What might be changing or going away with GA4?
One of the biggest changes to be mindful of is that Google Analytics will be moving to an event-driven data model. So the focus has shifted from users to events when looking at analytics data. Google Analytics 4 reports have changed from sessions to users as well, so be mindful of that when looking over your new data. The event-driven data model allows for new metrics that can be generated without “sessions,” such as moving away from goals to “conversion events.”
Can I migrate my data to GA4?
Unfortunately, you can not due to differences in schema and dimension differentiations/calculations. It would be like comparing apples to oranges.
What you can do is set up the GA4 property sooner than later, and start to collect and process data.
Will I lose my historical data?
You will be able to access and view data in Universal Analytics for 6 months after it stops collecting data (July 2023). You can also export your data at any time. You’ll have more data the sooner you make the switch.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some peace of mind in the ever-transitioning digital world and how best to manage your website. After all, change is the name of the game and we have to keep up with regular website maintenance. If you’d benefit from a more in-depth explanation of GA4, we’ll direct you to this handy resource on Google Analytics 4 for digital marketers. And if you’d like to discuss your website project even further, please request an intro call with us.