Universal Analytics-ageddon is officially upon us.
Google announced last week that Universal Analytics will no longer process new data beyond July 1, 2023 as they continue the move to GA4. For the majority of GA users, this is huge news. Since most standard website users are utilizing Universal Analytics, this means the future is changing faster than they might think.
If you are unfamiliar with GA4, now would be a great time to read up.
Until July 1, you can continue to send data to and analyze your web traffic as you always have. After that date, data will no longer be captured in UA. You will have access to that data for at least 6 months after that date.
It’s important to note that you will not want to report across platforms (ex. Organic GA4 users vs. Organic UA users) as the way it reports will be different. Apples to apples comparisons will not be possible, so the sooner you can move to GA4 to start gathering data, the better. Once you move to GA4, you’ll want to stay within that platform for all comparisons.
If year-over-year comparisons are critical to your business, you’ll want to get in GA4 prior to July 2022.
What Should I Do If I Still Have Universal Analytics?
If you plan to stay in the Google Analytics ecosystem, your only option is to migrate to GA4. There are a lot of benefits of GA4, but put simply, this is the future of web analytics. Unlike past iterations of Google Analytics that required small adjustments, GA4 requires a whole new set of tags and scripts. This makes the setup of GA4 a bit more complicated than your standard setup.
How Do I Setup GA4?
If you do not have Google Tag Manager, GA4 requires a new GTAG code to be deployed across all pages of your website. Out of the box, you will get pageviews like you always have, but also scroll tracking, outbound clicks, internal site search, video engagements, and file downloads. For custom events like form submissions or ecommerce transactions, you’ll likely need to work with a skilled developer.
If you use GTM, GA4 can be deployed via a new tag type, and you'll receive the same basic events listed above. For all custom events, new GA4 event tags will need to be created, however you can still keep the existing trigger.
With all of the accounts we work with, we’ve been using GA4 as a reset moment to clean up sometimes 10+ years of events and marketing pixels that have accumulated. We recommend first auditing everything in GTM, then making a plan of what tags need to be migrated and those that do not.
The future is arriving much faster than we thought but having a plan in place will help you to navigate the future and access all of the incredible features the new GA4 has to offer.
About the author
Dan Kipp is the Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager guru at Marcel Digital. He loves traveling, cooking, sports, and spending spare time with friends and family.