Google will sunset Universal Analytics (UA) in 2023. Here is what advertisers and marketers should know now about preparing to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Google announced last week the dates that it will sunset its standard analytics management tool, Universal Analytics (UA), which is being replaced by the more modern analytics powerhouse Google Analytics 4 (GA4). UA properties will stop processing hits on July 1, 2023, and Google Analytics 360 properties will stop processing hits on October 1, 2023.
This plan isn’t out of the blue—Google Analytics 4 (formerly called “App + Web”) has been available for a year and a half—however, this announcement adds a sense of urgency for brands who have not yet made the transition from UA to GA4.
In concert with Chrome’s depreciation of third-party cookies, this announcement also emphasizes the need for advertisers to prioritize a durable data strategy grounded in first-party data.
What does this mean for marketers?
The clock is ticking, and marketers’ successful transition to GA4 will be determined by how soon they can move from investigation to full adoption of GA4. While 15 months (18 months for GA360 users) may seem like a lot of time to transition, most marketers should make the move to GA4 ASAP in order to build the year-over-year data to compare against when UA stops processing data.
Further, there are many benefits to migrating to the new Google Analytics 4, including cookieless measurement, built-in predictive audiences, cross-platform customer journey analysis, and direct integrations to media buying platforms.
What’s behind Google’s sunset plan?
The team at Google created UA in a time when online measurement was driven by desktop web use and independent, cookie-observed sessions. Measurement needs have since evolved, and third-party cookies are becoming obsolete.
Additionally, customers are interacting with brands in complex ways offline and online across many platforms, and their expectations are high. In order for brands to compete and win, they need to provide excellent experiences across a customer’s journey and with respect for the customer’s privacy (and in compliance with various industry-specific, local, national, and international privacy mandates).
Google Analytics 4 gives brands advanced analytics capabilities, delivering user-centric measurement across platforms without reliance on cookies.
GA4 meets the future with advanced measurement capabilities
GA4 provides customer experience built around privacy
Google Analytics 4 will no longer store IP addresses, and robust privacy controls provide better experiences for users and their customers. These privacy controls are both more comprehensive and more granular regarding data collection and usage, giving brands more control over their data.
What should marketers do now?
Markets should consider these elements of their analytics and data strategy today:
- Historic Data: The data in your old properties will continue to be available in a read-only state, but this data cannot be imported into your new GA4 properties.
- Tagging Update: Google Analytics 4 tags collect data in a standard format across websites and native mobile apps, so your tags and SDKs will need to be updated to use the new standard.
- Team Training: Google Analytics 4 is significantly different from Universal Analytics. Most teams will benefit from carving out time to familiarize themselves with the new tool.
- Media Platform Integrations: The goals and audiences that you have created in Universal Analytics will need to be recreated in GA4 and shared with your media buying platforms.
Make the move from UA to GA4 with confidence
Many brands will need additional resources and expertise to make the move from UA to GA4, especially when it comes to getting up to speed with reporting and attribution frameworks and the new data-science features like predicted churn, lifetime value (LTV), and cross-device attribution.
How can we help?
We’ve completed hundreds of implementation projects and have been working with GA4 since its beta release in 2009. We have been migrating our clients from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 since 2019. We can provide support and guidance for development, reporting & measuring, and training.
This means you can leverage Search Discovery to get Google’s end-to-end analytics and media products, training, and support from a firm that’s