On March 16, 2022 Google announced that “On July 1, 2023, standard (free) Google Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data.”
Google Universal Analytics (UA) is being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). And while the sunsetting of Google Universal Analytics seems far away, GA4 and UA are not compatible. So, if your web properties rely on year-over-year data to measure performance, that means you need to transition to GA4 a year earlier—you must transition to GA4 by July 1, 2022. Yes, that means you have less than 90 days to convert. If you have the paid version of 360 Universal Analytics (GA360) then you have an extension to October 1, 2023 before Google stops processing new hits.
Why should corporate executives care? Isn’t this just an issue for the IT department?
Executives should care because it will be a major shift in how performance is measured and therefore reported. GA4 is not an upgrade to Google’s Universal Analytics. It is an entirely new way of tracking users across websites and apps. The familiar KPIs of bounce rate, page hits and sessions will no longer exist. Reports and performance dashboards will stop working. Google is moving to user and event-based tracking. Executives will have to be trained to view company, website and app performance in a whole new way.
Google is making this move to adapt to the privacy regulations rocking the marketing world due to the loss of third-party cookies. IP addresses will no longer be collected. And just as important, consumer and customer behavior has changed. Customers, buyers, shoppers and visitors are accessing a brand’s website or app on multiple different devices across multiple different browsers at multiple different stages in their journey. With GA4, Google is making it possible to see the full journey. This is a massive improvement.
There are several significant enhancements that executives will benefit from:
Greater insights across touchpoints. It will now be possible to get a complete view of the customer lifecycle—we will be able to measure the stages from awareness to conversion.
Data-driven attribution. Credit will be given across the events and not just to the last click. This allows executives to measure how different marketing activities collectively influence conversions.
Enhanced engagement data. GA4 reports include several new engagement metrics to track user engagements including engaged sessions, engagement rate and engagement time. Yes, the beloved bounce rate metric is gone, but with GA4 brands will be able measure user behavior and see which content is most engaging to users.
Executives need to know what their company is doing to adapt to GA4. Time is of the essence and the GA4 tags need to be implemented across all web and app properties. All reports that ingest web and app data will need to be changed.
There is a lot to do.
On May 3rd, 4th and 10th,we are hosting an in-depth session titled “Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Transition Planning,” which will answer the multitude of questions marketers might be facing during this transition and how to best overcome the challenges.
Sign up for one of our GA4 Analytics webinars below.