It’s the end of an era as Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics and this time around, you must make the jump to the next generation of analytics.
If you haven’t been using Universal Analytics, here’s a brief overview:
What Is Universal Analytics?
Universal Analytics (UA) is a web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. It allows users to collect and organize critical visitor data from their consumers.
First introduced in 2012, UA was the industry standard and allowed businesses to more accurately track users across multiple devices and browsers, introduced new tracking codes to gain more useful insights, the ability to important offline data, and more.
What’s Different This Time?
The most important thing to know first is that you will have to make the jump to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) from Universal Analytics. Google had allowed users to stick with Google Analytics 3 when they introduced UA in 2012, though UA was the only officially supported version.
However, with the new features and insights you’ll gain using the new system, it’s hard to see why you would ever want to stick with the old one. It introduces new features like:
Cross-Device Journey Tracking
The new analytics system will allow you to track data across both websites and apps, giving you a much clearer picture of the entire customer journey.
The old system used something called session-based data, which included information such as page views, exits, and bounce rate.
Event-based data on the other hand is much (much) deeper. It allows you to gain analytics for “events”, things like button clicks, form submissions, video plays and watch time, file downloads, and more. So, if a user visits a page, clicks a button, and fills out a form, you have data on all those points, instead of just the page view.
If that wasn’t enough it also goes a step further and allows you to group collected data for things like total events, average events per session, individual events, and more. Event-based data is a game-changer and is worth the switch alone.
With such huge leaps forward in AI in recent years, it makes sense that Google is starting to implement machine learning into its analytics.
Now, GA4 will provide users with automated insights and forecasts, making it easier than ever to actually use the collected data in a meaningful way.
A world without cookies is coming in 2024, but with GA4 you can be more prepared, thanks to privacy controls such as cookieless measurement, and behavioural and conversion modelling.
When Is The Deadline?
The good news is that you don’t have to scramble to make the switch as you’ve got plenty of time.
The key date here is July 1st, 2024.
Before this date, you can continue to collect new data using UA, and after you will still be able to access previously processed data for at least six months. Google is strongly encouraging everyone to export historical reports during this time.
If you want to do the process manually, you can create a new GA4 property before early 2023, otherwise, the Setup Assistant will automatically create one for you.
For more information about GA4 and thorough instructions on how to make the switch, click here.