Posted: 30 May 2022 Contributor: Ghia Marnewick
Google Sunsetting UA: How Can Marketers Switch to Google Analytics 4
We’re living in an exciting time, where data privacy finally gets the attention it deserves, forcing marketers, businesses, and even regular internet users to rethink their approach to data management. Changes have been made across the board when it comes to online marketing, with the latest affecting Google’s Universal Analytics.
Google recently announced that their Universal Analytics will be phased out by 2023 and replaced with Google Analytics 4. For many of us, GA4 is something we were aware of, and maybe even had created accounts for, but hardly ever used. Well, the time has come to log into those long-forgotten accounts to prepare for a future without Universal Analytics.
So, why is Google sunsetting Universal Analytics?
As part of the official announcement, Google stated that by 1 July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop processing and collecting new data. By 1 October 2023, all Universal Analytics properties will come to an end.
But what prompted this move?
In line with recent market trends, Google has taken note of data privacy regulations and is taking steps to ensure that its search engine puts the users first. By implementing GA4, marketers will be forced yet again to rethink their efforts. Finding helpful Google Analytics 4 guides will certainly help to streamline the process.
It seems like it was only a matter of time before they would announce this following the death of third party cookies. This is because Universal Analytics was intended to measure online performance linked to desktop activity and data supplied by cookies. With mobile online activity increasing and cookies becoming obsolete, it's easy to see why Universal Analytics are on the way out.
6 Benefits of GA4 for businesses
Google Analytics 4 is by no means a new thing, it was released in October 2020 but didn’t seem like a major change. As a result, many ignored it. Now that it is about to become the new normal, we think it’s worth sharing some of the benefits that come with using this tool.
Some of the benefits you can look forward to with GA4 include:
- You can use predictive metrics to increase purchase probability, churn probability and make revenue predictions.
- Create and set up tracking for up to 300 events without the help of a developer – GA4 tracks it all.
- Ensure compliance with data regulations that include GDPR and CCPA as well as determine how data is collected, saved, and used.
- Improved, customized reporting to take standard reporting to the next level
- Pick up and address any anomalies – any major discrepancies between predictions and performance
- A more in-depth view of customer behavior and a more streamlined customer journey
Bonus benefit: Integration with the Google Search Console to manage data related to organic searches on your site.
Questions you may have
As with any major change, there are bound to be a few questions that require answering. So, with Google sunsetting Universal Analytics, let’s take a look at what it means to marketers, and more importantly, answer some burning questions.
When will universal analytics be deprecated and stop processing new hits?
According to the official announcement from Google, new hits will not be processed after 1 July 2023. There will be a three month grace period which means that the final cut off is 1 October 2023.
What happens to the historical UA data?
Fear not, your data will not be lost in the process. This is because moving to GA4 does not require you to remove Universal Analytics from your tag management system or page source. Instead, you will need to look into the best practices related to dual tagging your web pages with both Universal Analytics and GA4.
Dual tagging will allow you to continue reaping the benefits of UA while simultaneously collecting data into your GA4 properties. The sooner you start incorporating GA4 into your system the better, as a migration from one to the other is no simple task. By getting a head start, you can start building your audiences based on the data collected.
Goggle has made his announcement well in advance to give marketers time to prepare, we recommend using it wisely.
Do I need to switch to Google Analytics 4?
No, you do not need to make an immediate switch to GA4. When it comes to looking at how to make the switch to GA4, it should be a systematic approach.
This means that instead of stopping UA immediately, rather run the two tools simultaneously to give GA4 time to collect data. This will prevent any data from being lost and have you better prepared for when UA is officially out of the picture. As mentioned before, dual tagging is the best way to do this.
Google sunsetting UA is not the end of the world
At the end of the day, UA was dated. It was intended for desktop users with the assistance of cookies. Both of these aspects have changed dramatically over the years, so why are marketers still choosing to use them? We have the opportunity to leverage both analytics tools to our advantage, so why not grab the opportunity with both hands?