Simply put, Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Universal Google Analytics.
In October 2020, Google introduced “Google Analytics 4” (GA4), which is designed to provide a wide range of new features and product enhancements. With this update, however, Google changed a lot of what we’ve grown comfortable with in the Universal Google Analytics of old. This will be an entirely new experience for many GA users.
Do I Have to Move to GA4?
Yes, it is a must – otherwise your website will not have tracking implemented.
On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after this time, but new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties. If you don’t want to lose historical data, it is advisable to save key data and insights from existing Universal Analytics accounts prior to this date.
While it is too early to completely forgo Universal Analytics and transition to GA4 exclusively, Google recommends collecting data in parallel. This will ensure you have plenty of historical data in GA4 when the time comes to switch. The data in GA4 differs greatly and reporting for both versions of analytics will be different. Everything is now built around users and events – not sessions, as we’ve been used to.
What is The Difference Between Universal Analytics & GA4?
Universal Analytics is great at telling you the who, where and when of user behaviour on your website. GA4, on the other hand, can track the what, how and why of how people interact with your site and/or app. Below are some of the more notable changes:
- A New Look – The first thing you will notice is that the user interface has undergone a complete overhaul. The classic “ABC” breakdown has now been replaced with a customer lifecycle breakdown.
- Event-Driven Data – Universal Analytics relies on different hit types such as pageview, event, and ecommerce hits. Pageview hits are tied exclusively to URLs, and event hits have a fixed structure you must conform to when collecting event data (Event Category, Event Action, etc.). Google’s objective with GA4 is to offer more flexibility with data collection, which is why every hit is simply an event now.
- Analysis Hub – Analyse data in a way that goes beyond the standard reports built into UA. Create custom funnels and more.
- Audience Builder – You can now develop more detailed audiences to segment reporting and connect to marketing platforms such as Google Ads.
- Configuration – The older UA required little in the way of setup, whereas GA4 will require a lot of configuration to ensure events and key insights are set up to track how you want them to.
What does It Mean For My Business?
You will need to create a new GA4 property and ensure it is configured correctly.
An analytics tool is one of your most powerful marketing weapons. It helps develop an understanding of website traffic and how users behave on your site. It is vital that companies like yours make the switch well in advance of the deadline.
Is There A Cost Involved?
From Google’s perspective, no – the changeover is free and part of a normal system update. However, there is quite a bit of work involved in the switchover and configuration. At Proactive we can work with you to determine your individual requirements to get your Analytics in place and ready to go in advance of the looming deadline.
It is our intention to switch any existing retainer customers over by the end of 2022 so that data is tracking in the new GA4 from the start of 2023, giving you peace of mind that your hard-earned data will not be lost. If you are not on a retainer agreement with Proactive, please reach out to our digital team to discuss any help you may need with your switch to GA4. Our dedicated team can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.