For over 17 years Google Analytics has been the go-to analytics tool for tracking website performance and measuring success. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to Google Analytics UA (Universal Analytics) and welcome Google Analytics 4. An abrupt welcome that’s built for the future…
- Google announced on July 1st, 2023, that they’ll be phasing out Google Analytics UA and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be taking its place.
- Businesses can access processed data in their Universal Analytics properties (your website) for the six months after July 1st, 2023.
Why is it happening?
- Google announced the change comes with respect to changes in user privacy (i.e new laws, death of the third-party cookie) and multiplatform journeys.
- Released at the back end of 2005, Google Analytics is just shy of two decades old. Built in an entirely different era, so much has changed since its initial release. For example, IOS was just four years old at this point. Despite its continuous alterations and improvements made over the years, it’s no longer fit for the multichannel online world we live in today.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Launched in October 2020, GA4 differs significantly from previous versions of Google Analytics. The new and improved version is a more forward-looking solution. Here’s what you need to know:
- GA4 works cross-platform. Aiming to make it easier to track data across websites and applications on both desktops and mobiles easier.
- It doesn’t require cookies
- GA4 offers more customization, for example, you can temporarily and permanently exclude users based on specific conditions and behaviours. Which can be useful for analysing specific behaviours and actions users take.
- It uses a more flexible ‘event-based’ data tracking system to monitor interactions with your content. There are up to a maximum of 500 specific event types that can be set up; a much wider source of data to track engagement than Universal Analytics. Events are a fundamental difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics.
- Integrated seamlessly with Google’s advertising platforms to utilise campaign performance and enhance return on investment.
For a full understanding of the difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics, click here.
What does this mean for business?
As Universal Analytics phases out and eventually comes to an end completely. Businesses need to make the change to Google Analytics 4 sooner rather than later, but why?
Despite being over a year away, the system’s differences will take some time to get to grips with. The sooner you prepare for the change the quicker you can start gathering data and usage. Early adopters of the system could even gain a competitive advantage. As well as this businesses will need to export historical reports from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. For help in doing so, click here.
How do I know which version of Analytics I’m using?
- Go to your website, right-click anywhere on your mouse and click inspect.
- A menu will appear with a navigation bar at the top, click ‘Network’.
- Then ensure ‘JS’ is selected
- Look at the list below: ‘ga.js’ indicates your using Google Analytics 4. Whereas ‘analytics.js’ indicates you are using Google Universal Analytics.
How do I implement Google Analytics 4?
Firstly it depends on whether or not you have a Google Analytics account set up or not. If you already have one set up you’ll want to set up GA4 with your existing Universal Analytics property. If you don’t have an account set up one here. Follow the instructions below to set up Google Analytics 4 property to a site that already has analytics.
- Go to admin on your Google Analytics account.
- If you have multiple properties, make sure you select the property you want. If you only have one, it will be pre-selected.
- In the property column select the Universal Analytics property currently collecting data from your site.
- Then click ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’ at the top of the column and then click, get started (under ‘I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property’).
- Thereafter there are options to enable data collection using your existing tags, for help with this please click here.
Google Analytics 4 is certainly going to change the data tracking playing field in the coming years. If you haven’t already, we can’t urge you enough to make the change now.
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