Google Analytics is dead. Long live Google Analytics!

Google Analytics is dead. Long live Google Analytics!

You may have heard about Google analytics announcement that they are making big changes next year, although they are positive and forward-looking, it is definitely something you need to know about and plan for in the coming months. Universal Analytics (the current version of analytics) properties will stop tracking new hits on 1 July 2023. Google Analytics 4 is becoming the new analytics platform, the transition may seem daunting, but don’t fear, this guide will help alleviate some of the worries.

So why Google is making such a big change in its analytics platform?

In the words of the Director of Product Management, the current “measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete” as it was anchored in “desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.” Google Analytics 4 will address the evolving measurement methodologies, organisations will need this to be able to effectively interpret data going forward. Without this update, organisations could be missing out on essential insights, this could detriment your business.

What’s different about Google Analytics 4?

Privacy focus

Due to the current trends in consumer privacy, Google is moving away from relying only on cookie-based tracking and had added additional controls to collect less personal data in some markets.

More customer insight

GA4 is able to track more flexibly across more platforms. For example, it can include activity inside of mobile apps whereas Universal Analytics cannot. It also better reflects a customer’s lifecycle as they visit across your properties and make return visits.

Modern technology

With new machine learning, you can generate sophisticated predictive insights into user behavior and conversions, creating new audiences of users likely to purchase which can be used to target Google ads.

A good moment to take stock of your measurement plan?

With this change, and with the need to set up any custom goals and events again, now is a good time to reassess your measurement needs. Are you focusing on and reporting the correct metrics? Are there other metrics that would provide insight or better reflect your organisations' goals?

Ever wondered if you could know when users click a particular button on your website? Or wish that you could see the most popular tags on your site? Custom events and dimensions can help with those types of metrics if you need them.

Working through this exercise with your stakeholders and prioritising your tracking goals is a useful exercise. We can join your workshop to assist with this process or provide advice on what’s possible with custom event tracking or help you with your measurement plan document.

Next steps

We recommend that you transition now rather than wait til next year. That’s because, once Universal Analytics stops working next year, you will lose access to the old data. So before then, you will want to have GA4 in place for a period (ideally several months) so that you can get comfortable with the new reports and understand how to find the same information you currently report on. Also, it is beneficial to build a new foundation of historical data on GA4 as early as possible.

Here’s a short action plan:

  1. Take stock of your current reporting needs
  2. Update (or create) your measurement plan
  3. Add GA4 to your websites (we can help!)
  4. Setup any GA4 customisations like goals or events
  5. Familiarise yourself with GA4 reports and make sure you can still answer the questions you are commonly asked by colleagues
  6. That’s all. When Universal Analytics is turned off next year you’ll barely notice
  7. Actually, one more step - we can remove the old Universal Analytics tracking code once you’re ready