Universal Analytics Going Away: What Does it Mean, What you need to Do?

24 Nov 2022
Albert Wood
Albert Wood
Universal Analytics Going Away: What Does it Mean, What you need to Do?

Google made a big announcement in March 2022 regarding the sunset of Universal Analytics (UA) the old version of Google Analytics. Google announced that it will begin sunsetting Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023.

Its successor, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), launched in late 2020 uses a G- site code and introduces new privacy features, robust reporting, predictive intelligence, and deeper integration with other Google products, such as Google Ads.

“Google Analytics 4 is our next-generation measurement solution, and it’s replacing Universal Analytics. On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you still rely on Universal Analytics, we recommend that you prepare to use Google Analytics 4 going forward.” – Latest Update by Google 

What does this mean for you?

If you have a website or app that uses Universal Analytics tags, after July 1st, 2023 (next year!) your UA property will no longer process new HITS, meaning that as of July 2nd, 2023 no new data will flow into your UA account. 

In addition to this, Google will retain your historical data in your UA property for only a few months, after which your UA property’s historical data will be deleted permanently. 

Why upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4?

The new GA4 platform is built from scratch and not an upgraded modification, therefore, none of the data in the UA platform can get transferred to GA4. Also, the UA platform will stop recording data on 1 July 2023; the sooner you migrate to GA4 the more historical data you will have in the Google Analytics platform.

What’s the difference between UA and GA4?

Google Analytics 4 is not only designed to offer additional features of Universal Analytics but also built to align with current and future reporting and privacy needs. Here are some of the differences and benefits.

  • Event-based: GA4 is event-based compared to Universal Analytics, which is session-based. In other words, the ability to track events like button clicks, video plays, and more are built-in with GA4, while this requires advanced setups in UA. This affirms the premise that page views aren’t the only important metric.
  • Cross-device tracking: While Universal Analytics was built around the desktop web traffic, GA4 offers businesses the visibility required into the customer journeys across websites as well as apps.
  • Machine learning: With GA4 you get insights and can make predictions based on machine learning technology.
  • Privacy-friendly: Universal Analytics data is based on cookies, whereas GA4 doesn’t.

What makes Google Analytics 4 special?

  • GA4 focuses more on user journeys and the events triggered by them.
  • Focused on user engagement, more intuitive for marketers and analysts to dig into user-centric reports.
  • GA4 has more powerful measurements, analyst tools, and integrations to set more targeted audiences for marketing campaigns, which means better Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS).
  • Accurate control over how personal information is collected helps comply with current and future privacy policies.
  • Simplified goals and events set up
  • Enhanced visualizations and reporting
  • GA4 properties allow you to send parameters with each event. 
  • No sampling is required in GA4 standard reports, which means unlimited data collection. 
  • BigQuery integration to analyze terabytes of raw data, take advantage of the insights brought about by the platform’s machine-learning capabilities and even stream data directly to BigQuery (without the need to run a load job).
  • Better ROI with highly insightful analytics reports to plan your campaigns better and target the relevant audience within the timeframe that matters.

Why can’t we migrate the Universal Analytics data to GA4?

GA4 is developed from a clean sheet of paper approach; what is recorded as a visit to your site would be different from how it is recorded. For example, UA records everything, and the visit where a user leaves the site without visiting another page is categorized as Bounce. 

On the contrary, GA4 records only visits of only “engaged” users. A “visit” event in GA4 is a site user who “engaged” on the first page either staying on the page for over 10 seconds, scrolling the page, clicking any buttons, or visiting another page on the site. While this will improve the Bounce Rates, it also means that visit counts will vary and Universal Analytics data can’t be transferred to GA4.

The Clock Is Ticking! 

With only a few months until UA stops recording, the sooner you activate your GA4 account, the more historical data it will contain. GA4 can run in parallel with UA for website traffic, you can upgrade to GA4 now. 

However, with GA4, sales data can only be sent to either UA or GA4. This makes it complex to switch between UA and GA4 for the sales recording.

eCommerce GA4 Upgrade Consideration

For businesses with eCommerce tracking in Google UA, the upgrade to GA4 needs to take a structured upgrade process, as your eCommerce agency will need to implement technical changes. 

Your eCommerce agency or technical team should be able to operate UA & GA4 in parallel for website traffic data; there can only be one eCommerce data source – either UA or GA4. This means to have the year-on-year comparison of eCommerce results, the switch over the timing of the eCommerce tracking will be critical.

How ioVista Can Help 

If you are overwhelmed with this technical piece of upgrading – do not worry. ioVista can help you with your upgrade now. We are a Google Partner and have been working closely with Google to ensure we are trained and fully prepared to assist with the scoping and implementation of GA4 migrations.

For a free scoping session with ioVista’s Analytics specialists, contact us today, or leave your details below, and we’ll be in touch.

Albert Wood
Albert Wood linkedin

Albert Wood is a technology futurist, sales stimuli, motivator, and E-commerce specialist at ioVista. As a data-driven and digital marketing evangelist, Albert’s passion is transforming struggling e-commerce businesses into sales-generating powerhouses through the right combination of UX and digital marketing strategies.

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