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Posted by Cameron Francis on in

Google Analytics 4 Replace Universal Analytics

Google Analytics has been the mainstay of webmasters and digital marketers when it comes to user data. It has gone through a lot of iterations since it came into existence and the latest iteration is the Google Analytics 4 (henceforth referred to as GA4). 

If you currently have GA on your website, you must be using Universal Analytics (an iteration of GA). Universal Analytics is being sunsetted on July 1, 2023. In short, GA4 is set to replace Universal Analytics on this date. There are several ways this change will impact your website. Therefore in this article, we will explore everything you need to know about this change

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics which was launched in November 2005. It’s a privacy-focused approach to collecting user interaction data. It is also a universal analytics system which means it tracks users across a website, apps as well as software. 

The system is focused on events. Also, there is a major reliance on artificial intelligence-based predictive data that will fill in the gaps to provide useful metrics to website owners.

The necessity for this change is largely driven by the latest light privacy protection laws such as CCPA and GDPR. These laws require visitors to give consent to the use of cookies which results in a lot of missing data. The AI-based predictive data approach based on machine learning processing is intended to fill in these gaps and provide more streamlined reports to business owners.

Google Analytics 4 Replace Universal Analytics

What’s Going to Happen?

Here is a step-by-step outline of the rollout of Google Analytics 4.

  • You may continue to use Universal Analytics properties until July 1, 2023, for collecting data.
  • You will have up to 6 months after July 1, 2023, to access the data present in the Universal Analytics property.
  • Google is going to deprecate access to Universal Analytics data through the analytics interface or through API at some point in time. They are yet to announce that date.

In short, you have some time before Universal Analytics is completely shut down and you will have to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. Switching to the latest iteration isn’t as complicated as some believe. It is also important for you to know that you can use both Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics on your website.

How to Upgrade to GA4?

Upgrading to Google Analytics 4 isn’t that complicated. The process is even simpler if you’re using the JavaScript version gtag.js. Here is the step-by-step process:

  • Confirm whether you are using Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 4 by logging into your analytics account.
  • If there are 3 columns titled Property, Account and View in the admin area, you are using a Universal Analytics property.
  • If there are only 2 columns in the admin area titled Account and Property, you are already using Google Analytics 4.
  • Check the Property column. There should be a GA 4 setup assistant. Click on it.
  • Click on the Get Started button. It will create a new GA4 property.
  • For Google tag manager users, there will be a pop-up asking them to install a new tag.
  • Click on create property and once the property has been created, add this tag to the website.

In short, the process is pretty simple, you just need to click a few buttons. There is plenty of support and explanations available in your Analytics account. Just follow the instructions and you will start collecting data in no time.

It is important to keep in mind that you have a lot of time to update to Google Analytics 4. Also, you can continue to use Universal Analytics as well as Google Analytics 4 simultaneously. Read guides and go through the documentation in case you have any doubts.

Once the upgrade has been completed, you should know that the new property will only show the new data captured from the time you have upgraded as there is no historical data to show. However, you can access historical data along with new data through the existing Universal Analytics property.

Google Analytics 4 Replace Universal Analytics

Make the Switch to Google Analytics 4

Google analytics 4 is Google’s answer to the latest changes in privacy laws. It allows you to get much richer data and a variety of new reports. 

Upgrading is pretty simple and you don’t need to worry about anything. The only thing you need to make sure of is to not delete the existing Universal Analytics property after upgrading. The existing property will continue to work along with the new GA4 property.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Google Analytics has been the bedrock of user analytics for webmasters and marketers. It provides a wide range of extremely useful data. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that billions of dollars of online spending are based on the data captured by Google Analytics as a wide majority of the websites and apps online use it. Google Analytics 4 is the latest iteration of this user tracking system and is an upgrade to Universal Analytics. It fills in the existing information gaps and provides much more streamlined data to webmasters and allows them to make more informed decisions. If you haven’t upgraded to GA4, you should do it now.

Need Help with Google Analytics 4?

A lot of data is going to be available through Google Analytics 4. However, making sense of this huge amount of data isn’t going to be easy. Here at ETRAFFIC, we have analytics specialists who can help with GA4 installation and the creation of reports. Get in touch with our experts today to make the most of the latest offering from the Google Analytics team.

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