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Google Universal Analytics will be gone by next year

Google Analytics has announced that its legacy software version Universal Analytics (UA), will soon be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Unfortunately, there's a good chance that you're currently using Universal Analytics, which means that you won't be able to collect and process website data after July 1st 2023.

The changes from Google Analytics Universal Analytics to Google analytics 4 means that you need to act now and set up Google Analytics 4 by July 1st 2022, to make year-on-year comparisons when viewing your reports. 

GA4 was released Oct 2020, and after its continued uplift in use, Google is making the call to migrate all users over to the platform. The good news is that there are some useful improvements when upgrading from UA to GA4, and after setting it up, you'll have more power to make informed decisions about your website. 

Key Differences between in summary UA and GA4:

  • GA4 has a new user interface layout, so you will need to familiarise yourself with where new things are

  • GA4 focuses on events instead of goals, page views and other key metrics

  • Goals are to be replaced entirely with conversions

  • The default attribution model is moving from the last click wins to position-based, as the default

  • Views are currently gone, whereas you will need to filter data and segment it in one master view in GA4

New Layout:

Certain reporting functionality is no longer available in GA4, and some new features have popped up. Therefore, you will need to familiarise yourself with the new interface to get the most out of it. 

New event-based measurement:

Google analytics has long relied on cookies and session-based measurement in its data. GA4 moves over to a new event-based data model that automatically collects more data around the website events without using categories, actions, and labels. A significant change is the way sessions are measured; in UA, a session ends after 30 mins of inactivity, whereas in GA4, it tracks the first and last session event, which means that you're very likely to see session differences between your UA and GA4 reports.  

Goals are gone, long live conversions:

We've found that the Digitial Marketing industry often has problems with using conflicting terminology, making it difficult for those not in the industry to discern the meaning of words. Many marketers have been using the terms " goals" and "conversions" interchangeably, pushing Google to remove some of this confusion with this update. A conversion will now be defined by "any event on the website deemed the desired event that we want to measure." 

Attribution and which channels win your conversions:

Attribution measurement models are a way of determining which sources are responsible for the conversions on your website. For example, if a user starts by clicking on an advert to find you but later returns through Google, how do you determine which channel should be attributed to the conversion? 

Universal analytics has relied on the last click wins as an attribution model as default for many accounts. The last source in the user's journey to find your website was usually attributed to the conversion. In comparison, GA4 updates the default attribution model to a cross channel data-driven model, which uses an algorithm to understand what has impacted the user the most to lead to their conversion. The model looks at the time from conversion, device type, number of ad interactions, the order of ad exposure, and the type of creative assets to make an informed decision. If you've been using the default setting, you're likely to see your marketing channels' goal measurement change based on how you set up the new conversions and their attribution in GA4. 

What you need to do in the migration:

  • Setup your GA4 account if you don't have one

    • Install the GA4 tracking code to your website

    • Make sure to link other software such as Google Ads and Search Console for better data collection

    • Setup any old filters and exclusions you had in UA

  • Set up your previous goal from UA as events and conversions

    • Update any old tag manager events to use the GA4 connector

    • Import your new tag manager events as events in GA4

  • Update your reporting software to use GA4 as a source and update your KPIs to the new events based conversions

We're are here to help:

If this sounds like hard work and you'd like a data expert to help you with your setup and reporting, we are here to help. Our team of marketing professionals can take this off your hands and train you to use the new software and get the most out of your data and analytics. So if you'd like some help, contact us at hello@eyeweb.co.uk or give us a call on 01482 628830.