Recently, Google announced that Universal Analytics would stop counting new hits on July 1, 2023. The new platform, Google Analytics 4, is intended to allow advertisers and marketers to get even more granular with the data and analytics that drive their strategies. It’s also designed to protect user privacy, with Google announcing they’ll stop collecting IP addresses. This combination of better data collection and increased user privacy is at the crux of this update.
But what does it mean for marketers? How will it change the way you utilize Google Analytics? And when should you make the switch? Read on for answers to these questions and more.
How Is Google Analytics 4 Different From Universal Analytics?
Previously, Google Analytics was based on sessions that grouped user interactions within a given time frame. Universal Analytics changes the focus to events and users. Each interaction is treated as a standalone event, which gives us increased abilities to track user pathing and predict behavior, regardless of which platform they’re on. The goal with this update seems to be increased user privacy without any decrease in analytics for marketers, with machine learning filling in the gaps.
The other big change is the way reporting is structured. The new reporting dashboard will allow users to quickly spot patterns and irregularities within their data. It makes it easier to drill down into user data by device, platform, and demographics, as well as offers users the opportunity to build complete marketing funnels and user flows.
When Should You Update To Google Analytics 4?
Wondering when you should update to the new version? The answer is “as soon as possible.” Setting up your new analytics property to run in conjunction with your Universal Analytics property (yes, you can do that) will strengthen and refine the machine learning models, which means more meaningful data when Universal Analytics is sunset on July 23, 2023. Both properties will collect data until this date, after which UA will stop processing new hits.
Google has stated that users will still be able to access their historical data for a period of six months after the end date, so we recommend using that time to export all of your historical data. Remember, historical data is important to website performance, so don’t lose yours!
How Do I Update To Google Analytics 4?
The exact answer to this question depends mostly on how your website is set up, but here are the basic steps.
- If you’re brand new to Google Analytics, simply create an account and set up a property.
- If you already have a Universal Analytics property, you can simply add Google Analytics 4 to your existing setup. The GA4 Setup Assistant will walk you through the next steps.
- If you use a website builder platform that requires a “UA” ID (instead of Google’s “G-” IDs), you can still use GA4, but you’ll have to add your global site tag snippet manually.
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Feeling uneasy about this change? We hear you. While these changes are exciting, they come with a bit of a learning curve. If you’re looking for help with your website, schedule some time with one of our digital marketing and Google Analytics 4 experts.