As folks who live in the digital space, we’ve all been hearing about Google’s switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 for at least a year. Well, the deadline for this switch is finally upon us!
On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics (UA) will stop processing data. This means that UA will stop collecting new information from any of the sites it is connected to, and the sunsetting process of the platform will begin. Users will have until July 1, 2024 to view and export any data remaining before the platform is shut down completely.
So now that we’re finally here – what are some of the differences between UA and GA4? And what do they mean?
When Google announced GA4 back in 2020, they explained that GA4 is going to be more “privacy-centric” so it can better adapt in the constantly-changing digital landscape where restrictions on identifiers such as cookies are becoming more common.
With privacy in mind, GA4 created more options for data control, such as easier data deletion, or ability to turn off location-specific data. One of the more interesting changes is that GA4 does not collect or store IP addresses, as they are shifting what they measure for site traffic and how they measure it.
With UA, you had to create different properties for different data points – i.e. you could not track an app and a website in a single property. In GA4, you can, with each property having the ability to have up to 50 data streams (with a limit on app data streams at 30).
This also helps condense information that was previously fragmented by device or platform, making your Analytics more “customer-centric” than equipment focused. With measurements not so split up, it’ll be easier to see and understand the lifecycle of website visitors and potential clients.
The information gathered in UA and GA4 is more or less the same, however the language used and location of the data may have changed, depending on the metric you’re looking for. Things previously labeled as Page View or Clicks are all now under the umbrella of Events. The section Audience is now called Demographics, and the entire Behavior tab is now the page Engagement, under the section Life Cycle.
On top of these changes, GA4 is constantly being worked on by developers, and over the past year, thanks to input from users, some things have already been reverted back to its previous form or evolved further. So keep that in mind, especially as the July 1 deadline hits and more users start coming to GA4 for the first time.
With anything new, there is always a learning curve, and the new Google Analytics 4 system is no different. While this change has been on the horizon for a while, it will now be our only analytics option within the Google toolset, so we have to hit the ground running. If you’re still unsure of the shift, or how to help your clients with the transition, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Reach out to us today and we’ll be happy to help guide you through this new era.