Google recently announced that they will be sunsetting their popular Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 3) web analytics platform on July 1, 2023. At that time, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data. Website owners and marketers will then be forced to transition to Google Analytics 4, a greatly changed platform that could cause problems for those used to the UA interface.
How does GA4 differ from Universal Analytics?
GA4 will force you to change the way you approach website reporting. Here are some of the most prominent changes:
1. New measurement model: The most significant change in GA4 is a new measurement model. While UA prioritized session and page-based measurement, GA4 will measure events. This change will make comparisons between UA and GA4 data near impossible.
2. No historical data: GA4 will not contain any of the historical data gathered by Universal Analytics. Moreover, any data stored in your UA platform will go away within six months of the platform’s sunset on July 1, 2023.
3. Limited data retention: In Universal Analytics, users were able to retain historical data from anywhere between 14 months and forever. Now, in GA4, users will only have access to a maximum of 14 months of previous data.
4. New interface: Google will debut a revamped interface in GA4. This will take some getting used to for seasoned UA veterans. Familiar menu items have been removed and new ones have been added. The new interface is more minimalistic, yet somehow more complicated at the same time.
These are just a few of the most important changes coming with the advent of GA4. If you want a more detailed breakdown of the changes the new platform brings, you can read our blog here.
How should marketers deal with this news? What kind of options do they have?
It’s clear that Google Analytics 4 will change the way you do web analytics. But how do you attack those changes? Our analytics team has put together some advice.
1) You ought to begin running Google Analytics 4 in parallel with your current analytics platform as soon as possible. As your historical data will not transfer from Universal Analytics to GA4, this will ensure as much historical data as possible when UA ceases to function.
2) Explore an alternative analytics solution to run in parallel with GA4. While Universal Analytics data collection will cease on July 1, 2023, there are many Google Analytics alternatives available to consumers that provide the same or better service. We recommend our clients use Matomo. This is a web analytics solution that provides a familiar interface, full data ownership and even more features than Universal Analytics offered. You can learn more about Matomo here.
If you’re unsure about how to transition your company away from Universal Analytics/GA3, the analytics team at MHP/Team SI can help. Send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll work alongside you to find a solution that works for your organization.