Google Analytics Universal will be sunset July 2023
If you’re using Google Analytics on your website, it is very likily that it will be Google Analytics Universal. From 1st July 2023, no more traffic will be recorded in your Google Analytics Universal property.
For at least 6 months after that, you’ll be able to access those reports. After which you’ll lose all historical data on your website.
Whilst this seems far away, you cannot migrate data between UA and GA4, so we recommend a new GA4 Property created to run in tandem with your existing implementation.
Other than building up historical data, it allows you to become accustomed to the latest reports and features. Also, giving you plenty of time to transfer/create the custom goals, events and anything else you might need.
What is changing about Google Analytics?
Google announced that it will be “privacy-centric by design”. Google is changing its tools and methodologies with the release of Google Analytics called “GA4”. This goes from a session and pageview tracking model to “event-based tracking” where the company alone is responsible for elevating the details (obviously the key elements remain), using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to model the data, filling in the gaps and trends between events. Before this recent update Google used a Cookie-based system which would directly show the user any data related to their website’s traffic.
Different to Google Analytics universal where one would need to create and track custom events, out of the box GA4 can measure the following:
- Scrolls – Capture scroll events each time that a visitor gets to the bottom of a page.
- External Links – Clicking on a link that is not of the website domain will be recorded.
- Site Search – Activating this feature will track the most common search parameters. Any non-standard website search results pages will need further configuration.
- Video engagement – Capture video play, progress, and complete events as visitors view embedded videos on your site.
- In reality this is more limited than it suggests. In most cases this will require additional configuration.
- File Downloads – Capture a file download event each time a link is clicked with a common document, compressed file, application, video or audio extension.
Changes of note
- You cannot migrate data between Google Analytics Universal and GA4.
- By default data retention is 2 months. For some data like age, gender and interest this is the maximum amount. Otherwise you can extend this to 14 months to carry out custom analysis of historical data. Standard reports of aggregated data should not be affected.
- It is possible to extend this even further by exporting to Google Big Query (or similar data warehousing). Additional costs can apply.
- Standard reports in UA are quite extensive. It is not the case with GA4 and you’ll need to become accustomed to creating custom reports.
- This impacts what you can retrieve after 14 months.
- Flexibility in event tracking –everything is an event and the structure is far more flexible.
- E.g. in UA only 3 piece of data can be collected against an event (Categories, Actions and Labels) whilst in GA4 you can collect 25 additional pieces of information on top of the Event Name.
How will these changes affect your business?
As you transition to “GA4”, you will be able to see your user journey in new ways and get better and better over time. It is a fantastic opportunity to re-evaluate and track your business’s KPI’s and discover what moves the needle. Starting with the powerful “GA4” tracking strategy today and moving to more contextual ROI measurements, you can drive results in the future.
To conclude “GA4” is the biggest change in Google Analytics since its inception in 2005. One of the things that users loved in previous versions was how easy it was to navigate and ease of use. However, in the past few years, Google Analytics defects have become increasingly apparent.
The new “GA4” system is built for the future, and it will take a while to get used to, it is an extremely exciting change.