Universal Google Analytics is dead. Live long Google Analytics 4.
Well, he’s not quite dead yet, but he’s definitely terminal. The phase-out date is set for 1 July 2023, and this has caused many people to wonder, “Should I worry? What does the Google Analytics 4 change mean to me?” Well, dear reader, we are here to answer these and other questions as we review the major changes and what to expect when Universal Analytics kicks the bucket.
What is Google Analytics?
- Marketers often use Google Analytics to track web activity – it’s one of the most powerful and popular tools.
If you’ve used Google Analytics in the past, GA4 will look similar. That said, there are some key changes for marketers, agencies, and stakeholders who have used Universal Analytics (UA) to measure traffic, marketing activity, and conversions.
So what’s the main difference?
- Google is deleting third party cookies due to privacy concerns and GDPR
GA4 changes data collection methods and moves metrics from sessions to events. This combines user web data and mobile app data to more accurately track journeys across the platform. GA4’s data collection also takes into account growing consumer privacy and, in particular, concerns about tracking cookies.
- Generally, it uses first-party cookies but not third-party cookies.
If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you are aware of how crucial cookies are in measuring your goals and promoting your business. Therefore, the idea that GA4 is even tampering with cookies may seem surprising.
The short version is that third party cookies are not allowed while proprietary cookies have priority in Google Analytics 4.
It also adds signals as a feature. The signals are session data from websites and applications that Google associates with users who are logged in to their Google accounts and enabled ad personalization.
Although GA4 is now accessible, many marketers continue to use Universal Analytics. It is now the default if you create a new property, but at the moment everyone is learning to use the new metrics at the same time because GA4 is still being updated.
With Google Analytics 4, you will benefit from the following:
- Event-based tracking: Depending on how you feel about the UA measurement technique for sessions and page views, this could easily be entered in the “loss” column. However, event-based tracking combines online activity and apps for a more complete picture of the customer, perhaps revealing more detailed travel information.
- Improved reporting and analytics: Google Analytics 4 (GA4) uses Google Data Studio as a template to offer easy-to-use templates for custom reports.
- Automated insights: artificial intelligence and machine learning will highlight new information for you.
What you will lose when you switch to GA4:
- Historical data: Your historical data from Universal Analytics (UA) and your tags will not be transferred to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). You will actually start over because GA4 requires a new ownership.
- Conversions– The way conversions are plotted will now be different because the underlying measurements have changed.
- User Views: Currently, GA4 does not have views that Universal Analytics (UA) users could use to set up tests or filter internal traffic from data.
- Limits on filters and customer size: Filtering by IP and host name has been limited and the number of custom dimensions is limited to 50.
- Third party integrations: Until updated to GA4, third-party integrations in GA for everything from your CRMs to your eCommerce to your CMSs will no longer work.
If you have integrations with Google Analytics, you will need to update them before the July 2023 deadline.
Adding a Google Analytics 4 property (to a site that already has Analytics)
Fortunately, adding a GA4 property to a website that already has Universal Analytics is simple.
- In Google Analytics, click Settings administrator.
- In the Account column, make sure the desired account is selected.
- In the Property column, select the Universal Analytics property that currently collects data for your website.
- In the Property column, click GA4 configuration assistant. It is the first option in the Properties column.
- Click To start below I want to create a new Google Analytics property 4.
- If your site uses the gtag.js tag, you have the option to enable data collection using existing tags.
- Click Create property
If you need more information you can consult the Google guide here: Add a Google Analytics property page 4.
How to set up a new GA4 property (for a site that doesn’t have Analytics)
You can create a new Google Analytics account if you are just starting out or if you want to focus on GA4.
How to create a GA4 account
Creating a Analytical account is the first step GA4 configuration. Once you start setting up your Google Analytics account, you will be asked to:
- Name your property
- Decide what data you want to share with Google
- Create your first property
- Share information about your company when setting up an Analytics account.
After completing these steps, you can select one of the three data sources to start the measurement.
Remember to also add your Analytics tag to your website so that GA4 can track user activity there.
If you need advice on how these new GA4 benefits and / or restrictions may affect your business and its ability to track marketing activities, please feel free to contact us and contact us. LSG can help you strategize to make sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible for you and your organization, giving you an idea of potential pitfalls and new opportunities.