Google Analytics/Universal Analytics Has Been Replaced With Google Analytics 4 In 2023: Details

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Web Development

Computer Displaying Google Analytics Report

 

Since 2005, Google Analytics has been a reliable workhorse for website managers. It’s helped them provide insight on their clients’ website performance. While Google hasn’t updated the platform for years,  a major change has taken place: on  July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics, the most commonly used version of Google Analytics, was discontinued. Universal Analytics, also called Google Analytics 3, has been around since 2012. Moving forward, Google expects website managers to use Google Analytics 4 ( GA4) which was launched in 2019. If you created your website after Oct. 14, 2020, you are probably already using Google Analytics 4 by default. If your website was developed before that date, your website was probably using Universal Analytics and has since been migrated to GA4.

How Is Google Analytics 4 different?

Google Analytics 4 isn’t just Universal Analytics with a few additional features. It is designed to be able to operate in an environment where modern reporting and privacy needs are catered to. Let’s highlight the major differences between the two platforms:

 

GA4 is event-based: Universal Analytics was session-based (based on pageviews).GA 4 works on the idea that page views aren’t the only thing you need to be paying attention to. Event tracking is necessary to truly understand your audience. In the world of GA 4, an event is any user action such as a button click or a video play. While event tracking was possible in Universal Analytics, you had to jump through hoops to set it up. With GA 4, this type of data is ready from the get-go.

 

GA4 prioritizes multiple devices: Universal Analytics mainly paid attention to visits by users arriving on your website using desktop computers. GA4, on the other hand, is built for a time where people mostly use mobile devices to browse the web by utilizing built in browsers and dedicated apps. Google Analytics 4 allows website and app owners to track users across multiple devices, platforms, browsers and more.

 

GA4 deploys machine learning: Google Analytics 4 leverages machine learning to provide advanced insights and predictions about user behavior. Through its enhanced data modeling capabilities, GA4 can automatically analyze vast amounts of data to identify meaningful patterns and trends. This enables marketers and analysts to gain a deeper understanding of their audience, optimize campaigns, and make data-driven decisions to improve business performance.

 

GA4 is big on privacy: While Universal Analytics relied heavily on placing cookies visitors’ browsers, GA4 takes website visitor privacy seriously by implementing several measures. It provides enhanced controls for data collection and processing, allowing website owners to configure settings to align with privacy regulations and user preferences. GA4 also supports data deletion requests, enabling users to exercise their right to be forgotten. Additionally, privacy-focused features like IP anonymization and data retention controls are incorporated to safeguard user identities and ensure compliance with privacy standards.

 

GA4 is a reporting powerhouse: Compared to Universal Analytics (UA), GA4 offers more useful and user-friendly reporting features. Its redesigned interface provides intuitive navigation and customizable dashboards, allowing users to access and visualize data more efficiently. GA4 also introduces advanced analysis capabilities, such as predictive metrics and cross-device reporting, enabling marketers to gain deeper insights into user behavior and optimize their strategies effectively.

What next for Google Analytics?

UA officially sunsetted on July 1st 2023. Here is what that means for users:

 

Data is no longer being collected through Universal Analytics. This data is still available for viewing and will remain as a historical source until July 1st 2024. If you didn’t use Google’s set-up assistant to manually create a new GA4 property,  your UA property has been automatically converted. Due to differences in how visitor counts and events are registered, you may notice differences in numbers on the new property. We recommend double checking your conversions are functioning.

What if you have switched to GA 4 and you don’t like it?

It’s easy to dislike change when you’re required to give up something you’re used to in favor of something that’s completely new. To help with the transition, we explore some common complaints and weigh them against the benefits. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the switch to GA4, consider the following:

 

There was no need to change Universal Analytics: Built on underpinnings that date back to 2005, the code base that Universal Analytics works off is pretty old. Universal Analytics wasn’t created to deal with the new privacy rules and the cookie-free approach of today’s internet. GA4, for example, no longer stores IP information on different controls. GA4 is simply an important step forward for analytics for today’s internet.

 

GA4 is an incomplete tool: GA4 was introduced in 2019 and has added new features over several months: finer control over privacy settings, GMP integration, and so on. More features are on the way. While GA4 lacks some familiar options, the platform offers robust and advanced features that were unavailable on Universal Analytics. Google actively continues to develop and expand GA4’s functionalities, demonstrating its commitment to evolving the platform and addressing user needs.

 

The interface isn’t user-friendly: You may not like the new interface; the new report graphics may be hard to understand, there may be metrics that aren’t useful to you, and so on. Worry not! One strength of GA4 is that it provides extensive customization options, allowing users to tailor their analytics implementation to specific business needs. It offers flexible event tracking, enabling businesses to define and track custom events that align with their unique goals and metrics. Additionally, GA4 supports custom dimensions and metrics, empowering users to capture and analyze data points that are relevant to their specific business context. This level of customization allows businesses to gain deeper insights and extract meaningful information from their analytics data.

 

If you need assistance digesting the new data, contact us to walk you through your  analytics dashboard.

At Comit Developers, we specialize in seamless transitions from UA to GA4, ensuring your data is migrated smoothly and your website benefits from the latest analytics features. We started the migration process several months ago for all clients,  and have confirmed conversion actions are being properly tracked and relevant audiences are defined, while seamlessly unifying all your previous data with GA4 to make the switch worry-free.

Universal Analytics is no longer collecting new data. If your business needs to make the shift to GA4, contact us and we’ll get you all set up! 

Garrett Stelly

Garrett brings years of experience in search engine optimization (SEO) to the web development team. His attention to detail ensures that website updates are made with the user experience in mind. Garrett is passionate about writing articles that pertain to website best practices, web accessibility, and various SEO topics such as technical SEO, website speed optimization, local SEO, and search ranking factors.

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