Posted by Cameron Francis on 27 Apr , 2022 in Digital Marketing SEO Tips
Universal Analytics (UA) has served digital marketers and businesses well since its advent in 2005. However, Google reckons that UA has run its course, and the industry needs a new way of measuring web property, hence the advent of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Unlike UA, which was built around websites and relied a lot on measurable data derived from cookies, GA4 is built on the firebase platform, which allows for measuring different kinds of data from a multitude of platforms (i.e., websites and applications), allowing for better measurement of the cross-platform customer journey.
Google has set a switch-off date of July 1, 2023, after which UA will no longer process any new hits. While it might seem like there is no rush to make the switch, in reality, you need to prepare for GA4 as early as possible.
Historically, a lot of the analytics on UA used historical data (for instance, YoY analysis and reporting). While GA4 is a new and different property that will produce different kinds of reports than we’re used to, the importance of the historical data your websites and apps accumulate is still crucial. As such, it is worth noting that GA4 will not retroactively access data (GA4 will not call up data collected in UA). You’ll only be able to use data from the day you create a GA4 property.
As such, every business should prepare to move away from UA by creating GA4 properties for their website and/or application as early as today. In doing this, you’ll be accumulating a good amount of data to use in the future.
1). Update Your Reporting
GA4 can measure data derived from websites and applications (both mobile and web applications). You’ll have access to more data from a wider range of devices. However, some of the newly available data does not fit into UA’s reporting fields.
You’ll need to rebuild reporting using GA4 using GA4 data. Google has already published a guide on building reports on GA4 equivalent to what you’re used to in UA.
2). Update Your Tagging
You’ll need to rebuild your tags to support GA4 tags, which capture differently from how UA did. You must build new tags for GA4 to capture the same data that UA does if you want to measure the same data UA captures.
3). Learn The New Features And Functionalities
The new GA4 has features and functionalities markedly different from what UA has. For instance, GA4 does not feature to control custom channel filters and groupings, which the UA has. Due to increased privacy, you can only filter using variables that don’t include domain, IP, and other related datasets. Such datasets should be managed by the end-users in the tag manager.
Another omitted feature in GA4 is the ability to map custom dimensions.
4). Learn About The New Interface And New Terminology
Out with the old and in with the new also mean adjusting to many interface changes. For example, while UA had “Goals,” the new GA4 will have conversions. There’re plenty of changes in terminology between the old and new analytics properties.
The interface will also change. Some standard Universal Analytics elements have been moved within the analytics interface. You’ll most likely take some time to get used to the new look of GA4.
As with any software version in its early stages, Google Analytics 4 is not fully developed yet. Some of its features are not fully developed, and many Content Management Systems such as WordPress are still yet to develop features and tools for the new analytics system.
While the switch from UA to GA4 is inevitable, you can still use Universal Analytics properties alongside the new until Google switches off UA. This approach will ensure you don’t miss out on any data measurement before GA4 becomes fully functional.
However, GA4 will not operate retroactively. This means the entirety of the historical data you can access once Google switches UA off is the data GA4 property will have measured and amassed only. You’ll benefit a lot by creating Google Analytics 4 property for your website as soon as possible, especially if you rely on YoY reporting. An early setup of GA4 will allow the new analytics property to collect as much data as possible as early as possible.
As Google begins to sunset Universal Analytics, webmasters need to prepare their properties for the new analytics tool. A lot of our digital marketing relies on having the means to measure traffic and different aspects of traffic acquisition. Do not delay your preparation for the new measurement standards, as it will affect your analytics capability in the future.
We’ve been masters of the UA, and since the inception of GA4, our analytics team has gained a lot of experience and knowledge in using GA4. You can take our expert-level knowledge and experience in analytics to help your website prepare for the future. Work with our team to future-proof your analytics by preparing for the switch from UA to GA4 today!