Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) has been fundamental to businesses since its introduction in 2012, providing websites with the ability to collect vital traffic, engagement and conversion data. However, with the release of Google Analytics 4 in October 2020, experts began speculating if/when Google would phase out their decade-old workhouse. Well, we now have confirmation of that transition and its date: July 1, 2023.
Now is the time to ensure your website has an active Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property and to make necessary preparations to transition from Universal Analytics.
What’s the Difference Between UA and GA4?
Google Analytics 4 is based on event data whereas UA operates from multiple hit types (e.g. page hits, event hits, ecommerce hits.) GA4 also allows “businesses to measure across platforms and devices using multiple forms of identity” in anticipation of cookie-based tracking becoming less prevalent in the near future.
Another core difference from Universal Analytics is that Google Analytics 4 does not currently have the “view” level many businesses utilize to segment different traffic types such as creating a view that measures website traffic yet filters out internal traffic from their employees. It remains to be seen if this helpful feature will be incorporated into GA4 at some point.
How to Set Up a Google Analytics 4 Property
If your website does not currently have an associated Google Analytics property, GA4 will be the recommended default when visiting to create a new Google Analytics account. From this page, Google offers a rather simple walkthrough of creating the GA4 property and deploying it via Google Tag Manager or another method.
If you already have a Universal Analytics property associated with your website, you’ll likely notice a notification upon logging into Google Analytics, currently located at the top of your dashboard; this provides a link to read more about the upcoming changes and a “Let’s go” button, directing you to the Google Analytics 4 Property Setup Assistant.
When Will Google Analytics UA Go Away?
As of this post, the current timeline from Google is that you can continue to collect new data in UA properties until July 1, 2023. After this date, you’ll be able to access historical data of your UA properties for at least an additional six months, during which time Google encourages exporting any needed historical reports or other data.
If you haven’t already done so, create a GA4 property for your website. Even if you already have an active UA property, it’s recommended to have a GA4 property created and running concurrently with your UA property in order to begin collecting data in the new property type. This is also an ideal time to connect GA4 data to other digital platforms your business may utilize such as Google Ads accounts or Google Looker Studio reporting.