The New Adventures of GA4: A Reporting Issues Update
July 2023 marked the beginning of a thrilling journey into the world of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). But like any…
On Wednesday, March 16th, 2022, Google announced in a blog post that their Universal Analytics (UA) will begin its sunset in the summer of 2023. After the sunset, UA will no longer be tracking website traffic data for all Google Analytics (UA) accounts.
Google Analytics is extremely important for tracking the success of a website and digital marketing campaigns. Google Analytics gives website owners the ability to view the traffic that they are receiving and analyze it in order to be more successful in their web marketing efforts. Google has already sent account holders an email that explains that the sunset of universal analytics is coming in 2023.
Google is ending Universal Analytics as the software was initially built for the generation of online measurement anchoring in desktop web, independent session, and observable data from cookies. The quickly evolving world of technology, digital marketing, and digital use has shown that this methodology is becoming increasingly obsolete. It needs new software to deliver cross-platform insights that can track with the next generation measurements.The end of the Universal Analytics era means businesses can set up more specific metrics over multiple platforms to increase their insights and tracking data. In addition, Universal Analytics had some privacy concerns that were brought to light and will be adjusted in the Google Analytics update. GA4 will no longer store IP addresses that can be misused as personal identification information and an invasion of privacy. To sum it up, Universal Analytics was an excellent software solution launched in 2005, and it has provided crucial information to help web businesses succeed. We are now in a period of advancements and online strategies that need a new software solution. Making the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 before July 1st, 2023 is imperative for all web businesses.
Yes, it is assumed that once something is on the internet, the information will exist forever. However, your Universal Analytics will disappear and not be able to be accessed once the Universal Analytics sunsets.
For standard customers, all properties will stop processing new hits immediately on the 1st of July 2023. After the official retirement date, you will have access to your previously processed data through Universal Analytics for six months. Marketing teams are given ample time to find alternatives for website analytics. However, making the Google Analytics 4 update now will cause less stress when July of 2023 rolls around.
If you are a Google Analytics 360 customer, you will only have an additional three months to switch to GA4, which will be October 1st, 2023.
All Universal Analytics properties will be permanently deleted in the future (6 months after July 1st, 2023). We currently recommend exporting your historical data and updating it to Google Analytics 4.Google has made it clear that they will not retain your Universal Analytics data forever; therefore, exporting any important history is crucial. One simple solution to storing your historical data is in a Google Sheet, then connect it to Google Data Studio so you can visualize and analyze the data. Ironistic would be happy to export your data and set up Google Analytics 4 tracking for your web business, so you need not stress over the monumental transition.
Universal Analytics will be replaced with Google Analytics 4 as the default for digital analytics measures in Google Analytics. The question may pop up, what are people doing now? Many of us are scrambling to learn a whole new online implementation and tracking environment. The upcoming switch has brought an opportunity for more profound knowledge and learning. Although the Google Analytics 4 update is intimidating, we have researched and continue to understand more daily.You have made it halfway through, so keep reading to get into the criteria and explanation for your next steps towards GA4. Because Google analytics is so important for website management, it is crucial to upgrade your website as soon as possible.
A GA property is where your company’s online data goes to get processed by Google Analytics. The property sits within the Google Analytics account, where the manager organizes the data tracked using multiple properties. The data processed takes place at the property levels. What is changing here with Google Analytics 4 properties? Traditionally, Universal Analytics would have a single account for two distinct properties – one for the app and one for the website. Now, Google Analytics 4 will have a single property containing data for both the app and web.
To conclude this section, Google Analytics 4 provides a deeper analysis of your consumer and app/website build. The next section further breaks down Google Analytics 4 and how it differentiates itself from Universal Analytics.
Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics are not the same. Universal Analytics highlights total users in most reports, whereas Google Analytics 4 focuses on active users. The calculation for the metric of users is different between UA (shows total users) and GA4 (shows active users). Therefore, Google Analytics 4 provides more accurate results based on user’s activity in real-time, but how does the activity get tracked, and what is the difference?
In Universal Analytics properties, the data is grouped into a session, which is the foundation of all reporting. A session is a group of user interactions with your website that are taken within a given time frame. During that session, analytics collects and stores the user interactions as pageviews, events, and eCommerce transactions, as hits. A single session can contain multiple hits depending on how the user interacts with your app/website.
In Google Analytics 4 properties, the data can still be seen as a session but analytics now collects and stores user interactions as events. The event-based data models records user interactions with your website or app as events which promote insight on what is happening on the interface (pageviews, button clicks, user action, etc.) The idea behind event-based analytics is that the information will be fully specific to the user’s action while giving further context to the event/user. For example, value of purchase, title of the page a user visited, or the geographic location of the user.
In Universal Analytics, it is possible to measure events like button clicks, scroll depth, and downloads but there require the help of implementing a Google Tag Manager. In Google Analytics 4, there are certain events (“recommended events” and “custom events”) that do not need Google Tag Manager to create tracking. They are basically making life easier on you for having a default tracking set up.
Although you don’t have to switch to Google Analytics 4 right now, it is highly recommended that you make the switch as soon as possible so that you can maintain historical data. The upgrade to google analytics 4 can sometimes be difficult or confusing, but the fact is that if you want to track any data after July 2023 you will have to switch to G4 at some point so you might as well do it now.
If you are already on the ball and set up your GA4 property, great job! Now the confusing part of deciphering between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 until Universal Analytics retires. However, distinguishing between the two is pretty simple and there are multiple ways to check.
Because Google Analytics 4 is event based, the best and most modern method of installing G4 on your website is to take a Google Tag Manger first approach. Google tag manager allows you to create Tags and Triggers that will track key events on your website such as button clicks, form submissions, and page views.
The time has come to switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. When you are ready to complete the GA4 upgrade, the majority of the transition will be done from the Google Analytics admin platform. When launching the setup there is an upgrade assistant to help walk you through the steps, but like a car or house, not everything is as cut and dry. Multiple factors will come into play depending on if you are creating a new GA4 property or connecting with an existing GA4 property. The unforeseen steps that may have to be taken while setting up GA4 will require time, research, and resources; therefore, the sooner you complete your setup the better it will be for your company.
When you partner with Ironistic to set up your GA4 property, we are listening to your request while keeping a few key pieces of information in mind. First, your new GA4 property won’t have historical data, so during the transition the exportation of any historical data you request will be performed. The most basic settings will be copied over to your new GA4 property, and the expectation of what you previously had set up in Universal Analytics will have to be customized based on your wants/needs. Default and customized tracking codes will be enable to your website to shift from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. Once all the tags are created and confirmed as firing correctly, the published changes will be made in Google Tag Manager, and your new GA4 tags will be live on your website tracking the flow of data.
In the admin area of Google Analytics, when you transition to GA4, you will only have a two column view, “ Account” and “Property”. When you finish upgrading to GA4, your existing reports will be the same in your Universal Analytics property because the upgrade process creates a new property. You will have Universal Analytics and a GA4 property running in parallel, so on July 1st, 2023 when the UA property disappears the GA4 account will continue tracking with a smooth transition.
Google Analytics 4 is our next-generation measurement solution, and is replacing Universal Analytics. On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you still rely on Universal Analytics, we recommend that you complete your move to Google Analytics 4.
You’ve already created a Google Analytics 4 property. Now’s the time to ensure that your setup is complete. If you haven’t started collecting data in your Google Analytics 4 property, you should do so now. This will allow you to gather the historical insights you need to measure your results over time when Universal Analytics stops processing hits. If you are already collecting the data you need in Google Analytics 4, you should ensure your remaining setup is complete.
You can continue to use and collect new data in your Universal Analytics properties until July 1, 2023. After that, you will be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics for a period of at least six months. We know your data is important to you and we strongly encourage you to export your historical reports during this time.
In the coming months, we will provide a future date for when we will fully sunset Universal Analytics. On this sunset date, you will no longer be able to see your Universal Analytics reports in the Analytics interface or access your Universal Analytics data via the API.
If you have questions on successfully making the switch to Google Analytics 4, check out our Help Center resources. For questions on how moving to Google Analytics 4 could affect your Google Ads campaigns, contact Google Ads Support.
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