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Google Analytics 4 is the future: ARE YOU READY?

GOOGLE IS SUNSETTING UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS BY 2023

On 16 March 2022, Google announced that Universal Analytics (the standard version of Google Analytics before GA4), will sunset by mid-2023.

The standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits by 1 July 2023, to be exact, and the 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new data by 1 October 2023.

What does this mean for Google Analytics users?

  • If you are a standard customer, no new data will be recorded in your Universal Analytics platform after 30 June 2023.
  • If you are currently a 360 customer, the platform will register no new hits from your website after 30 September 2023.
  • However, you will be able to access the GA interface for at least six months after the stop of data processing. All your historical data will be available in a read-only format.
  • Starting October 2022, GA4 will be the new standard solution for website and app data tracking and you’ll need to get started on your
    migration to GA4 immediately.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the next generation of Google Analytics. It is built to help marketers prepare for a future where privacy and customer-centric measurement take the center stage.

This “new and more intelligent” analytics platform service was introduced by Google in 2020. It builds on Google’s App + Web property and allows brands to see unified user data across their websites and apps.

WHY IS UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS BEING REPLACED BY GA4?

Google states that the measurement methodology behind Universal Analytics is becoming obsolete, and it fails to help marketers face the challenges of today and meet the evolving needs and expectations of users.

Without a modern measurement solution, you leave essential insights on the table that can impact your business…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. Meanwhile, Google Analytics 4 operates across platforms, does not rely exclusively on cookies and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement.

-Russell Ketchum

Director, Product Management, Google Analytics

GA4 offers significant advantages over Universal Analytics:

  • GA4 enables a complete view of the customer lifecycle, across platforms and devices.
    It is designed on an event-based data model, where every interaction with the website or app is captured as an event. It is not reliant exclusively on cookies for data collection. It uses multiple identity spaces (including User IDs for signed-in users and Google Signals from users who opted into ads personalization), which helps identify users across platforms and devices and gives a more accurate view of the entire user journey.
  • GA4 uses Google’s machine learning technology to generate critical insights about user behavior to improve marketing and conversions.
  • GA4 is privacy-centric by design and is built to address the challenges created for marketers by restrictions on cookies and identifiers.
  • GA4’s data-driven attribution enables you to understand how different marketing activities collectively impact conversions and allows you to use this data to optimize campaigns across Google Ads and the Google Marketing Platform.
  • Audiences created in GA4 can be activated across Google Marketing Platform.

A closer look at the privacy features in GA4

Google Analytics 4 was designed to keep pace with the privacy-driven changes and the resultant shifts in consumer expectations and behavior.

Let us take a quick look at how GA4 can help marketers be ready for the changes in technology standards and regulations for user privacy.

  • GA4 includes all the privacy features available in Universal Analytics.
  • GA4 anonymizes a user’s IP address by default which makes it impossible to link a user to an IP. It will also no longer store IP addresses.
  • GA4 enforces stricter data retention compared to UA. In GA4, the data can be retained for 2 months or 14 months.
  • GA4 admin APIs provide the option to delete user records based on Client ID, User ID, or App instance ID.
  • Activating Google Signals with GA4 connects website user data with Google account data who have opted in for ad personalization. This adds an additional layer of user privacy perspective.

GETTING STARTED: WHAT SHOULD MARKETERS DO?

With the imminent sunset of Universal Analytics, it is time to plan for GA4 migration. It is critical to understand that GA4 and UA are different types of properties and have different data models. While Universal Analytics collects data as sessions and pageviews, GA4 collects data as events.

Without a modern measurement solution, you leave essential insights on the table that can impact your business…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. Meanwhile, Google Analytics 4 operates across platforms, does not rely exclusively on cookies and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement.

-Russell Ketchum

Director, Product Management, Google Analytics

What does this mean for you?

As the data models of the two properties are fundamentally different, their reporting models are different too. And it won’t be possible to migrate the historical data from UA to GA4.

What should be your immediate next steps?

Here are iQuanti’s recommendations to help with a smooth migration to GA4:

  • Implement dual tags (UA and GA4) on your website and/or app pages. This will ensure that data is collected in GA4 before UA is
    sunset.
  • Setup data pipelines to collect historical data from UA and store it in an internal database for future use.
  • Train your internal teams on the GA4 platform and its features to help utilize the platform intelligence fully.

HOW CAN iQUANTI HELP?

iQuanti has expertise and experience in implementing the GA4 platform. We can assist you in your migration, not only in terms of switching the platforms, but also in developing data pipelines for collecting data from UA, and setting up new measurement metrics to maximize
the potential of the platform. Reach out to our experts for a consult today!

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