Google Universal Analytics, which celebrated its 10ys anniversary in 2022, is now officially sunsetting, being replaced by Analytics 4 (GA4). Current Universal Analytics accounts will keep collecting data until mid 2023, but migration to the new(ish) version should start a lot sooner than that if you wish to keep all your data intact. While many users have already implemented basic versions of GA4, a full implementation, including advanced measurements and eCommerce are still rare for many websites and apps.
MIgrating to Google Analytics 4
Typical migration for a website or an app can includes the following:
- Opening and configuring GA4 property within the Analytics interface
- Mapping all existing events and custom data
- Implementing Google tag Manager code (recommended)
- Replacing all current measurements with GA4 code
- Depending on your site or app, additional implementations may be needed, such as eCommerce tracking, third party trackers / pixels and other codes as needed
- Verification of data processing and integrity
- Depending on your needs and budget, migration may include custom reports within the GA4 interface or Google Data Studio and / or extra services
The length of the migration process depends on your measurement needs and complexity. For simple sites it may take a day or two, while more complex implementations are assessed per project. Extra feature implementations, such as Google Ads or Search console integrations may require additional permissions from the digital properties owner.
Working with GA4
Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 is an event based measurement system. This means some metrics you know and love, such as bounce rate, are no longer available (bounce rate is now known as engagement rate and is different in definition and value) while other reports and features are now available with this more modern measurement system, and most can be configured manually under the “Explorations” menu.
GA4 interface has also been completely revamped, and can be confusing for new or long-time Universal Analytics users. The interface requires quite a steep learning curve, but it now shares the same design language as all other Google Marketing Suite products.
Advantages of using GA4
Google analytics 4 represents a huge step forward for web and app marketers. It’s now more focused on conversions, user journey and machine learning, just to name a few of the benefits. Some of the new features include the following:
- Unified reporting for your website and app
- Machine learning metrics designed to target audiences more accurately
- Free form reporting allowing for more in depth insights
- Event automation and advanced custom events
- Data protection and privacy compliance
The migration process from Universal Analytics to GA4 can seem overwhelming for some, but it is now unavoidable for most Analytics users. Some users may consider abandoning GA completely and move to competing tools (of which there are plenty), or at least use them in conjunction to enrich their datasets.