Universal Analytics Reaching End of Life: What You Need to Know

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Google's announcement that they will no longer support the previous version of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics (also known as UA), on July 1, 2023, means it is time for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Migration. Nearly 30 million websites use Google Analytics, and this change will affect them all. This changeover will require a new way of thinking and will involve changing internal processes, learning new technology, and being more careful about data collection.

GA4 is a multi-platform tracking solution that collects data from websites and applications. It utilizes an event-based data model to measure insights and does not rely on cookies for tracking. Instead, it uses data-driven attribution to accurately attribute conversions to multiple sources rather than just the last click. Additionally, GA4 does not retain IP addresses, which can help brands comply with privacy laws. These features make GA4 a more forward-thinking solution for tracking and analyzing customer behavior.

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions about the end of life for Universal Analytics and the GA4 Migration. If you require assistance with Universal Analytics(UA) to GA4 migration, our team is here to help. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

FAQ on Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4

What is the difference between Universal Analytics and GA4?

Universal Analytics, the previous version of Google Analytics, was released in 2013. GA4 is the latest Google Analytics version, released in 2020.

  • Data model: Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model, which tracks a series of user actions on a website as a single "session". GA4, on the other hand, uses an event-based data model, which tracks individual user actions, such as page views, clicks, and form submissions, as separate events. This allows GA4 to collect more detailed and granular data about user behaviour.

  • Automatic event tracking: GA4 automatically tracks a wide range of events on your website without requiring manual configuration. This includes page views, clicks on buttons and links, form submissions, and other interactions. Universal Analytics, however, requires manual configuration to track events, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.

  • Enhanced data collection: GA4 uses machine learning to collect and analyze data from various sources, including website interactions, app usage, and customer interactions across channels. This allows it to provide a more complete and accurate picture of customer behaviour and preferences. Universal Analytics is limited to tracking data from website interactions.

  • Improved reporting and analysis: GA4 provides more detailed and customizable reports and new tools for analyzing customer behaviour and predicting future trends. It also includes new features such as "path analysis" and "funnels", which allow you to visualize and analyze the different steps users take on your website. Universal Analytics has more limited reporting and analysis capabilities.

  • Improved integration with other Google products: GA4 is closely integrated with other Google products, such as Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google BigQuery, making it easier to analyze and optimize your marketing efforts across different channels. Universal Analytics has limited integration with other Google products.

  • Data retention: GA4 includes new data retention controls that allow you to specify how long data is retained before it is automatically deleted. This can be useful for complying with data privacy regulations such as GDPR. Universal Analytics does not have this capability.

What are the main features of GA4?

GA4 has several new features that are not available in Universal Analytics, including:

  • Automatic event tracking: GA4 automatically tracks events on your website, such as page views and clicks on buttons, without the need for manual configuration.
  • Enhanced data collection: GA4 uses machine learning to collect and analyze data from a wide range of sources, including website interactions, app usage, and customer interactions across channels.
  • Improved reporting and analysis: GA4 provides more detailed and customizable reports, as well as new tools for analyzing customer behavior and predicting future trends.
  • Improved integration with other Google products: GA4 is closely integrated with other Google products, such as Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google BigQuery, making it easier to analyze and optimize your marketing efforts across different channels.
Can I use Universal Analytics and GA4 together?

Universal analytics will reach end of life on July 1, 2023, till then you can use GA4 and Universal Analytics together, so that you can make use of the exisiting reports and events created there. You need to update your GA4 instance with all the specific configurations before the UA stop taking data.

Do I need to migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?

Universal Analytics will reach the end of life on July 1, 2023, at which point Google will stop collecting data on UA. If you are currently using Universal Analytics, it is recommended that you migrate to GA4 before the end-of-life date to ensure that the tracking on your website happens uninterruptedly, and to take advantage of the new features and functionality available in GA4.

How do I migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?

To migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4, you will need to create a new property in your Google Analytics account and configure it to use the GA4 tracking code. You will then need to update any custom tracking code, integrations, reports and other configurations that you have set up in UA to GA4. Once you have completed the migration, you can retire your Universal Analytics property and tracking code.

Will my existing data be lost if I migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?

The historical data will be available in Universal Analytics after the end-of-life for at least 6 months, and you can still use that in read-only mode. UA captures no new data after it reaches the end of its life. We recommend you set up GA4 now along with UA to track the website analytics in GA4 and then take steps to migrate the custom configurations and reports to GA4. Once UA reaches the end of life, you can remove the UA tracking code from your website.

You should also take steps to export existing data before Google shut down UA completely.