The word is out: Google announced that on July 1, 2023, Google Analytics Universal will stop processing new hits and Google Analytics 4 (G4) — the latest version of the web analytics platform — will be the sole version available to users.
If you’re a current user of Google Analytics Universal, it’s important to know how to prepare for this replacement and what differences you can expect in this new version. That way, you can preserve valuable data from the legacy version and confidently move forward.
Google Analytics users can continue to leverage and collect data based on their established Universal properties up to July 1, 2023. After that, Universal users will still be able to access previously processed data from these properties for a minimum of six months.
To preserve this data, Google recommends that Universal users export any critical data during this period. You can export data via individual reports, using Google Analytics Reporting API, or — if you’re a Google Analytics 360 customer — to the cloud data warehouse BigQuery.
While historic data from Google Analytics Universal will not go away on the sunset date, legacy data won’t be available indefinitely, so it’s best to plan ahead and begin exporting information now.
In preparation for continuity, Google advises that Universal analytics customers switch over to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible. That way, businesses and marketers alike have ample time to pull historical data and get acquainted with the new version.
Considering the differences between Google Analytics Universal and G4 in terms of both functionality and layout/visual appearance, we agree with and support this proactive strategy.
The main difference between Google Analytics Universal and Google Analytics 4 is their data models. Whereas Universal Analytics was built on a session-based data model, G4 utilizes an event-based data model where every interaction — page views, a session start, conversions, etc. — is tracked as an event. By categorizing data in this manner, Google is striving to make it easier for businesses to stitch together individual layers of the user journey for a more holistic view of user interactions. What’s more, the addition of predictive tools in G4 enriches data to provide helpful insights into a website user’s next potential move.
Another thing you’ll notice is that the UI of Google Analytics 4 is much different than the Universal version. While it may take time to get up to speed and find what you need, it’s worth noting the more user-centric nature of G4’s interface. The UI features several quick overview widgets of valuable data from various reports, alongside predictive insights, improved search functionality to locate reports and ask questions, and easy access to more comprehensive data overview reports.
Google has dubbed G4 their “next-generation measurement solution.” While a full move to the latest version of Google Analytics opens up the door to new opportunities, we as marketers recognize that this pivot can raise uncertainties and questions with current Universal users.
While this article sets out baseline steps on how to prepare for this Google Analytics shift, Kuno’s team of marketing professionals is here to answer your questions as well as provide you with strategies on how to optimize use of the G4 platform for the future. By learning about your inbound marketing goals, we can help identify how to configure your web analytics tracking so you can easily monitor the metrics that matter most to your business and identify opportunities to improve your efforts.