Universal Analytics properties will phase out by July 1, 2023, when the UA properties will stop processing new hits. Also, Universal Analytics 360 properties will stop tracking hits on October 1 next year.
Instead, we should all be using Google Analytics 4. Heads up – data stored in Universal Analytics will be stored for at least six months after the shut-off!
What Is GA4?
It’s the latest version of Google Analytics which came out in October 2020.
Created in 2005, Google Analytics was the very first instance of Google Analytics. Then, we got the new and improved version in 2012 called Universal Analytics which became the default property type. After that we got Google Analytics 360 – a software suite that works along with UA and provides Tag Manager, Data Studio, Optimize, etc.
Now you’re here thinking: ‘Property? What’s a property?’
According to Google, a property is “where your company’s online data goes to get processed by Google Analytics”. Basically, it’s where all the magic happens. Up until now, if you had both an app and a website, you would have a single account and two distinct properties – one for the app, and one for the website. Now, with GA4, one property will have data for both the app and the web.
UA vs. GA4 – what’s the difference?
GA4 is built differently and aligns with the present (and the future’s) privacy needs – it doesn’t rely on cookies! Unlike Universal Analytics which is session-based, GA4 is event-based. That means it can track events like clicks and video plays. GA4 also focuses on giving a business insight into the customer journey across all of their website and apps, unlike UA which was built around desktop web traffic. GA4 also uses machine learning to share insights and make predictions.
Google has launched new privacy features for GA4 (as they announced they would). I’ll sum it up in this thread:
— Rick Dronkers (@RickDronkers) April 22, 2022
Why Is Google Doing This?
As published in the announcement, “Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.“
As mentioned above, GA4 doesn’t rely as much on third-party cookies, it’s built in a way to respect customers’ privacy, uses an event-based data model for measurement, and is not just focused on desktop search. Combine that with the sunsetting of cookies and the fact most people are searching on mobile instead of desktop, and the logic behind it makes perfect sense.
Why Is This News Important?
Because Universal will stop working and you will have to make the switch. To do that in the least painful way, you should create GA4 property and start collecting your data. This should help you gather all the historical insights you will need to measure the results over time when Universal stops processing new hits. If you’re already collecting the data, make sure your GA4 setup is complete.
Wonder what other features in Universal Analytics will gradually become unusable during this GA4 transition period… https://t.co/bqkUr6qfQA
— Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) April 15, 2022