If you are using Google Analytics to track everything about your users interactions with your website – and you probably have been – then this news is for you!
Google has announced the official sunset of Universal Analytics for 2023. At that point, you will need to have in place GA4 – it’s successor and much improved and tailored to the new era of user behaviour and privacy.
This newest era emphasises interconnections that enable machine learning, audience-based vision, and more direct data activation and GA4 capabilities are developed around better data collection, analysis, and activation.
For those more familiar with UA data collection, here is what the difference looks like in a snapshot:
These are the dates you need to keep in mind
- July 1, 2023: UA properties will stop processing new hits and be read only.
- October 1, 2023: UA360 properties will stop processing new hits and be read only.
- All UA user interface accesses will be shut off 6+ months later.
In a nutshell, you should be up and running with GA4 before July 1st, 2023.
That seems like a generous timeframe – that’s more than a year away!
But if you’re thinking about delaying making a plan for GA4 and implementing it, you should know that GA4 data is not retroactive, meaning that you won’t be able to look back past the day you install the new GA4 instance.
So the earliest you can have it in place, the better!
There are also many changes and differences between UA and GA4
- Landing page reports will be somewhat difficult to find and are located in GA4 under “Life Cycle > Engagement > Pages and screens.”
- Digital Source and Medium are now located in several new data filters
- No categories, actions, or event shortcuts
- Views have been removed – but how that affects the filtering of data is yet to be determined (for example internal data or bot data)
- Goals are gone and have been replaced with conversions
- Conversion “Events” are automatically labelled with a predefined naming structure
- Realtime events are currently limited, making conversion testing in real-time dependent on the new GA4 recognizing and categorising your new conversion event for the first time
- Behaviour Reporting will go away: New vs Returning, Frequency, Recency, Engagement, Session quality
- Data segmentation and visualisations of segment data will change.
- Calculated metrics are going away.
…AND THESE ARE JUST A FEW!
But keep calm – everything is going to be ok!
There is a plan you can follow to make sure you are up and running before the sunset date.
Ideally, you will want to have 1 year of historical data in GA4, and see data side by side until the date of sunset so you can clearly observe differences and get comfortable with GA4.
Therefore we recommend to begin running the new Google Analytics 4 in parallel with Google Analytics asap. Keep the source of historical data in the standard Universal Analytics, and begin data collection in GA4 for the future.
After dual tagging, continue the work necessary to transition to GA4, by creating audiences and validating conversions. Make sure to train the teams to get them familiar and comfortable operating in GA4. Ready to take full advantage of capabilities like predicted churn and LTV, cross-device attribution and conversion modelling.
What Can I Do to Preserve My UA Data and Be Ready for GA4?
UA is a separate set of properties than GA4, so any usage of UA including the interface or exported data and/or downstream systems leveraging UA data will need to be rebuilt/recreated. This is why dual-tagging early on with GA4 is so critical.
There are solutions, however, to preserve your UA data long-term, and strategies to adopt GA4 as your new source of truth. In short, we recommend focusing efforts on a Tag, Extract, Transform, Load, Train approach:
- Tag GA4 on your assets as soon as possible (dual-tag, do not remove UA).
- Extract your UA data on a daily automated process ASAP to preserve all historical data in BigQuery or other data warehouse.
- Transform this exported data to recreate metrics that won’t be in GA4 that are available today like ecommerce conversion rate or any session-based metrics.
- Load the exported UA data into dashboards with new data sources of your data warehouse. Housing this data to allow for decoupling of reliance on UA interface.
- Train the organisation for migration to GA4 by mid-2023 and/or how to access exported, transformed, and loaded data from UA in the meantime.
Whether you need help in getting started or you are already advanced in this process but would like to have everything in tip-top shape, don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Apidae, we can help guide you through these changes at a pace that is comfortable for you and your organisation and ensure the tracking, data and analytics side of things is ready and all stakeholders are ready for the big moment.