If you use Google Analytics, make sure you read this blog post.
You may have received an email from Google over the last few days with the subject line "We will begin to sunset Universal Analytics in 2023". If you didn't receive that email, or if you saw it and instantly deleted it there was some pretty important news contained in that email. In short, Google Analytics 4 will be replacing Universal Analytics on 1 July 2023.
What this means is that from 1st July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer process or collect any data. New data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 (GA4). And if you don't have a GA4 property set up, you won't be able to collect any new analytics data, that's a bit of a nightmare, right?
From 1st July 2023, you will still be able to access your previously processed data that was in Universal Analytics for at least six months but you won't be able to migrate that data into your GA4 account.
Here's what Google says about why they're getting rid of Universal Analytics:
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. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete. Meanwhile, Google Analytics 4 operates across platforms, does not rely exclusively on cookies and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement. And though Universal Analytics offers a variety of privacy controls, Google Analytics 4 is designed with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for both our customers and their users. It helps businesses meet evolving needs and user expectations, with more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage. Importantly, Google Analytics 4 will also no longer store IP addresses. These solutions and controls are especially necessary in today's international data privacy landscape, where users are increasingly expecting more privacy protections and control over their data.
Director, Product Management, Google Analytics
At GEL we've known that GA4 would eventually replace Universal Analytics, so in the background, we've been proactively learning how to use GA4 so that we can confidently transition our clients over as easily as possible.
When should I move to GA4?
If you rely on historic data to make decisions for your business, you need to have a GA4 property set up by 30 June 2022 at the absolute latest. Why? Making the switch by 1 July 2022 will mean that by the time Universal Analytics is retired (1 July 2023), you'll have a year's worth of historic data stored in your GA4 account. But the sooner you switch, the more data you'll have in your account from 1 July 2023. If you'd like, you can take a look at Google's GA4 demo account here.
What do I need to do right now?
You need to start thinking about changing over, but you don't need to do anything right now. We're currently putting a package together which will detail exactly how we can help to move your account over. We'll email all of our clients directly with this information in a few weeks' time. So please hang tight.
GA4 is going to take a lot of getting used to.
Lots of the standard reports and metrics have been renamed or moved. Some (like bounce rate) have been removed completely. You can take a look at Google's GA4 demo account here. But please be assured that we've been preparing for this and are ready to help make this changeover as simple for you as possible.