If you have recently logged into Google Analytics, you may have noticed an information banner spanning the top of the platform stating “Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.”
This move away from Universal Analytics marks the end of an era for Google Analytics, which has been the gold standard for website analytics since it fully launched in 2014.
The announcement has digital marketing professionals and webmasters in a scramble to ensure that all their accounts are updated to the latest version, and that there will be no speed bumps ahead in measuring their websites’ web traffic. Here’s what you can expect over the next 12 months for Universal Analytics’s end-of-life.
Wait, what’s Google Analytics again?
It’s important to back up a few steps to recognize what Google Analytics is, and what it does for companies and organizations. Google Analytics, both the old version and its replacement, is a web traffic analytics software. It essentially reports who the people are that visit your website, including how many and where they are geographically located, how they found your website, and what they do once they’re on your website.
This data is invaluable for marketers; it informs us how successful previous marketing campaigns have been, gives us a breakdown on how effective various channels are, and helps us choose where to spend more time, effort and money in the future. Without having data to back up our marketing and advertising campaigns, it would be like playing darts in the dark.
In Google Analytics, we also set our website conversions and what they’re worth to our business or organization. This data gives business owners important KPIs that they can review, which can translate into a more reliable return on investment. These are just some of the reasons why having analytics on your website is vital, and important we maintain access to them once Google turns off their old analytics platform.
Why is Universal Analytics going away?
There are a few reasons. “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,” Russell Ketchum, director of product management at Google, said in the announcement. “This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”
The Universal Analytics technology has been around for over a decade and moved out of beta in 2014. As you probably know, websites and technology have changed significantly over the last ten years, and Google is ready to move forward with the newest analytics technology.
Is Universal Analytics being replaced?
Of course! According to BuiltWith, as of April 2022, Google Analytics was used by 74 percent of the 10,000 most popular websites ordered by popularity, so they have a plan: Google Analytics 4, colloquially known as “GA4.”
Google Analytics 4 differs from its predecessor in that it operates across platforms—not just computers and phones, but also ios and android apps. It doesn’t rely on cookies and uses an event-based data model for measurement (rather than a session-based model). It can use the power of Google’s AI to fill in any gaps where browsers or VPNs might block certain information, and it also does not store IP addresses, which can help brands stay on the right side of privacy regulations.
What is Google Analytics 4?
However, that’s about where the similarities between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 end.
What are some of the key things to know about GA4?
- The tracking ID is no longer a “UA” number, but rather a “G” ID
- For example, the Universal Analytics ID for Webspec is “UA-1126100-1” while the measurement ID for Webspec’s GA4 is “G-RWJQ6EQ8BZ”
- You actively need to upgrade your analytics to the new version
- GA4 begins tracking website analytics the moment it’s installed. That means that the sooner you upgrade to GA4, the better.
- The new code needs to be installed manually
- Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have an easy one-click upgrade for most Google Analytics accounts.
- The new code will need to be installed by your webmaster or a developer.
How do I upgrade to Google Analytics 4?
The easiest way is to email or call us! If Webspec, EDJE or BuildThis built your website, we most likely still have access to your analytics account. As mentioned above, upgrading is a manual process that involves updating the code, so it’s easiest if you let the experts handle it.
We’re always here to help—either with upgrading your account or offering support on either of the Google Analytics platforms. Contact us below if you have any specific questions, or would like us to get started.