The countdown to Google Analytics 4 has begun.
Google has announced that from July 2023 they will no longer be processing data through Universal Analytics (UA). This means that brands should move over as soon as possible to build the necessary historical data before Universal Analytics stops processing new hits. Whilst Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been in circulation for over two and half years, early adoption has been slow. That is why it is important to be clear, that if you do not move away from UA by the date above you will no longer be able to collect data.
However, by implementing GA4 now alongside your UA you can begin collecting data that will allow you to make YOY comparisons. In addition, it should be noted that GA4 is not an upgrade of UA. You will need time to familiarize yourself with the key changes and build familiarity with the new platform.
Early adopters of GA4 should be working to ensure that any use cases for which they are still relying on UA have a plan for transitioning to GA4. As the learning curve is steep, it is not something you can simply hand to your web dev agency or marketing team to do.
What to expect from GA4.
Universal Analytics originally allowed users to measure website interactions using independent sessions and cookies. Over the years it has evolved to attempt to track more information from a variety of platforms, though it hasn’t always achieved what the developments set out to achieve. However, Google Analytics 4 offers a much better solution for brands that have a presence beyond simply a website. If your brand as apps and other connected platforms, then GA4 is the platform for you.
In addition, paths to purchase are now more complex than ever before, and tracking those users from the first click to the last click is important when shaping your future marketing decisions.
Finally, customers are far more privacy-aware than ever and the data-modelling that GA4 provides is needed to complete data that can no longer be collected.
What are the next steps?
To summarise, Universal Analytics will stop collecting hits on July 1st, 2023, see Google’s announcement here. Organisations that haven’t begun implementing should begin their planning process and should implement GA4 alongside their existing UA. This must include a plan to export all historical data.
Therefore, you should work to plan out your event naming categorization in GA4. The new data model is more flexible and you should take time to understand it.
Finally, consider the training needs of your organisation. With many different reports available to your team, understanding how they can be used to shape your business decisions is an important part of the process. Our recent blog on some of the best reports available for different departments and team members can be viewed here.
Up until today, many brands have been trying to work out when the best time to commit to GA4 is. With this announcement, Google has essentially now provided the answer. If you want to ensure you can make YOY comparisons, then you have until 1st June.
If you need support in making the move over to Google Analytics 4 contact us here.