26 Sep Have You Moved to GA4?
Have You Moved to GA4?
Have you moved to GA4?
There’s been a lot of buzz in the marketing and data world about the move to GA4 in the past few years, and for good reason. Google Analytics 4, or GA4, will be replacing Google’s old analytics property known as Universal Analytics (UA) in July 2023.
Data and marketing teams will currently be falling into one of the three camps: those who have set up analytics more recently and are already using GA4, those who have already migrated across to GA4, and finally, those who are still using UA and are waiting to transition to GA4. If you’re in the latter camp and are wondering if you should move across now, this summary is for you.
Anyone debating the move should do it sooner rather than later. If you have GA4 and UA working together in the lead up to July 2023, you’ll be in a much better position for the sunset of UA.
Why is Google moving from Universal Analytics?
UA, which is also sometimes known as Google Analytics 3 or GA3, was first launched all the way back in 2012. It was built when user behaviour and expectations were very different to how they are now, and Google themselves have cited some of the key reasons for their decision to sunset UA as changing user behaviour and the growing concerns around user privacy.
When UA was developed around 10 years ago to suit user behaviour at the time, we were all primarily web users. It wasn’t built to track users across devices, which has meant that many have needed to use other properties to monitor this.
Google aims to bring this all under one roof with GA4. Originally called their “App + Web” property, GA4 will enable cross-device tracking and data collection.
Likewise, user privacy is increasingly under the spotlight. Since 2012, numerous laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ruling in 2018 have shown the increasing importance of protecting personal data and has encouraged users to be more aware of how brands are collecting and using their data.
UA is powered by first- and third-party cookies, the latter of which are also being phased out of Chrome by Google in 2023 – if you’d like to know more about that, why not read our blog covering it here. GA4 is designed to work in a cookie-less future and doesn’t need to record IP addresses for tracking.
How they differ
The move from UA to GA4 is not a simple migration; they are two separate properties with different metrics, meaning you can’t directly import your existing UA data into GA4. The move to GA4 requires a full migration.
UA was built to measure hits and track page sessions across web users through identifiers. GA4 tracks a user across multiple sessions and devices. It also treats any action made by web or app users as an event and has parameters within each event that it measures. It will also offer behavioural modelling.
Why should you move now
Because they measure so differently, it means that you can’t transfer your existing UA data across to GA4; when you start measuring through GA4, there won’t be any historical data within the property.
The sooner you can get GA4 up and running alongside your UA, the more historical data you’ll have in the GA4 property when Google officially sunsets UA. Likewise, if you have both up and running at the same time, you can make sure that your GA4 is tracking correctly, as it’ll be easier to spot outliers or false records when comparing to your UA data.
What happens after UA is sunset?
Once UA is sunset on 1st July 2023, the data will remain available in the property for another 6 months before Google will delete the data. You have a fairly limited window in which you can export and save your data, and you’ll need to find another property to store and interpret that historical data in.
You’ll then have to use GA4, whether you’ve already moved across or not. So, if you haven’t already made the jump to GA4 and are thinking about it, we’d strongly recommend getting it set up and working in tandem with your UA – you’ll be in a stronger position for it!
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