From the 1st of July 2023, businesses that do not upgrade their Google Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (or GA4) will lose future website tracking capabilities.
For the last number of years, Google’s website tracking has been performed by the Universal Analytics service. However, a new version known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is set to replace UA.
In this article we will discuss the reason for this switch, as well as the implications for businesses.
Why is Universal Analytics being discontinued?
Google Analytics first entered the fold in 2005 following Google’s acquisition of an external web analytics program, which revolutionised how customers analysed website metrics.
Over the years, a number of improvements were made to the service, effectively culminating to the announcement of Universal Analytics in 2012 which is what many of us are most familiar with today.
However, with rapid technological advancements including the advent mobile apps, machine learning and new legislations surrounding privacy such as GDPR, this prompted the development of a more modern software.
To facilitate the new Google Analytics 4 software, Universal Analytics is set to be sunsetted from the 1st of July 2023. While pre-July analytics will remain archived, no future data will be recorded from then on.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the newest version of Google’s free website analytics tool. This latest software allows the tracking of traffic and engagement across website and apps under one property, rather than separately.
However, the most significant difference between GA4 and UA is that privacy-first tracking, AI-driven predictive analytics and cross-channel data measurement will now be incorporated.
What is different in GA4?
In addition to some more useful features, the primary objective of GA4 is to ensure that organisations are GDPR compliant with more data privacy measures, as IP addresses are no longer tracked.
- An increased focus on customer engagement through powerful new user metrics and dimensions, using AI to predict certain customer actions (i.e. engagement, acquisition, retention etc.)
- The ability to track both website and mobile app data in one central location (previously app tracking occurred via Google Analytics Firebase and Universal Analytics only measured website data)
- Access to a series of pre-made actions and events that previously required manual set-up
- New, predictive metrics which help the user to make data-driven decisions on a larger-scale
- IP addresses are no longer collected or stored, for data privacy reasons
- Data deletion is easier, with administrators able to delete data at the request of any client
- The platform now features greater customisation possibilities
- Data retention options can be chosen by the user
What does this mean for my website?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was launched in October 2020, so many organisations have already migrated their website tracking from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 and no further action is required.
For websites that are not yet on GA4, Universal Analytics is still currently being supported, but this service will be sunsetted for good from the 1st of July 2023 and no further tracking will occur after this.
Please note: All previous website data from before the 1st of July 2023 will remain in tact and accessible from Universal Analytics, but GA4 will be required for all future tracking.
The GA4 migration deadline is impending, so if your website is still on Universal Analytics, make sure to reach out to your web developer in good time for uninterrupted service.
Now that you have read our blog about migrating to Google Analytics 4, why not see our other articles for more digital marketing, web development and graphic design insights?