Created
23 May, 2022

In March, Google announced that their digital analytics platform Universal Analytics will be replaced by their next-generation measurement solution, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), from July 2023.

This is a significant announcement for everyone using Universal Analytics, commonly known as Google Analytics.

With just over a year to go, it’s important you start planning the switch to GA4 sooner rather than later, so you can gain greater value from your data in the new system.

GA4 - a brief overview

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics. GA4 is designed to track website and app data all in one place, providing access to a single source of truth for all your online initiatives. According to Google, GA4 has the flexibility to measure many different kinds of data, delivering a strong analytics experience that will help businesses prepare for the future. It also uses Google’s machine learning technology to surface and predict new insights.

GA4 was built with the analytics user in mind.

It comes with a range of reporting benefits such as the new ‘Explorations’ reporting feature that uses advanced techniques to help uncover deeper visitor behaviour insights. You can create a custom report using dimensions and metrics that are relevant to your analysis, or use the new, sophisticated funnel exploration platform where you can analyse user journey progression by applying segments and break down your data to gain a better understanding of the multi-step journey. You can also create a path exploration report which provides a tailored user journey analysis for your specific use case.

All these reporting features provide added benefits to your business, and give you more detailed insights into how people interact with your website and apps.

Universal Analytics vs GA4 – what’s the difference?

There are several differences between the two platforms, but the most noticeable are:

  • Reporting interface – GA4 has adopted the Firebase analytics interface which means, to put it simply, how the data appears visually on the platform will change. Rest assured, the same, valuable data will pull through - it will just have a different layout.
  • Measurement model - Universal Analytics uses a measurement model based on page views and sessions, and is predominantly used for measuring website performance. Without the right technical capabilities, the reporting on this platform can often only skim the surface for the detail required for analysis. On the other hand, GA4 uses a measurement model based on events and parameters that will help you collect more granular data, providing focused, detailed insights into how visitors are interacting with your website or app.
  • Reporting views - In the free version of Universal Analytics, there is an option to create up to 50 reporting views, while in GA4 there is only one. You will notice that the GA4 view provides different, more accurate metrics, including Engaged Sessions, Engagement Rate, Engaged Sessions per User, and Engagement Time to track user engagement with your website or app more accurately. There is no bounce rate metric in GA4 reports, as this has been replaced by Engagement Rate.
  • Privacy controls – Though Universal Analytics offers a range of privacy controls for users, GA4 is designed with privacy at its core in order to provide a better experience for both you and your customers. GA4 will not store IP addresses. It will provide more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage, so that customers can feel protected and in control of their data.

What will happen at the end of June 2023? 

Your Universal Analytics will stop processing new data from 1 July 2023. You will not see new data in your reports after this date. Only historical data will be available.

What will happen to historical data in Universal Analytics?

You can continue to use and collect data in your standard Universal Analytics properties until 1st July 2023. After this, historical data will be available to access for at least six months.

This means you have until the end of 2023 to migrate or store any historical data as, after this time, you won’t be able to access your reports in Universal Analytics.

Can I upgrade Universal Analytics to GA4?

Unfortunately, you cannot. This is more than just a simple upgrade. It requires a bit of planning. Users will need to set up a new GA4 property in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics property.

If you’re using Universal Analytics, we recommend making the move to GA4 as soon as possible to avoid data loss. The sooner you switch, the sooner you’ll be able to gather the historical insights needed to measure your results over time when Universal Analytics eventually retires.

How DCX can help

DCX is fully equipped to support you with the move from Universal Analytics to GA4.

There are a number of steps involved, such as considering the account structure, creating the GA4 property, populating data streams, enabling data collection, mapping out customer events, migrating audiences and e-commerce measurement, and more.

Take advantage of our Google Analytics 4 Migration Consultancy today.

Our digital analytics experts are ready to support you.

Get up and running with GA4