As of July 1, 2023, Google will be phasing out their Universal Analytics product in favour of the new Google Analytics 4 system, also known as GA4. This change comes with several benefits for its users, including more powerful data analysis capabilities, enhanced security features and improvements to the user interface.
If you’re currently using Universal Analytics, it’s vital to be aware of the switchover to take advantage of all the system's new features.
What is Universal Analytics?
The way we consume and measure the web is changing. Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurements that relied on cookies, desktop websites, and independent sessions; but now it's becoming obsolete as Google Analytics 4 (GA4) operates across platforms without relying exclusively on them - delivering user-centric data which helps marketers reach their goals more efficiently than ever before.
Google Analytics 4 has been built with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for both customers and their users. The new features allow businesses to meet evolving needs and have more comprehensive control over data collection than ever before - giving them peace of mind in knowing how it's being used.
GA4 will also no longer store IP addresses. This is essential in today’s international data privacy landscape. Users have progressively demanded more reliable, and secure privacy protections and to have more control of what happens with their data. Read more about Google’s privacy initiative ‘The Privacy Sandbox’ here.
Why is Google moving to Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is a program that operates differently than its predecessor, relying on an event-based data model. This means it doesn't store IP addresses that can help brands stay within privacy regulations and avoid being tracked through their own site traffic by others who may be monitoring user activity for marketing purposes.
“Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and easily observable data from cookies,” Russell Ketchum, director of product management at Google, said. “This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”
What is Google Analytics 4, and why is it better than Universal Analytics?
GA4 was created with users' critical principles in mind, such as generating leads, encouraging user downloads or sales and connecting on and offline customer engagement. We’ve listed some of the ways that GA4 can help support your business:
- Get a complete view of the consumer lifecycle - With an event-based measurement model, you can get a comprehensive view of the customer lifecycle by organising events across all your platforms and not just individual sessions.
- Increase ROI with more direct data - Machine learning is an extremely powerful tool that can help you tailor your marketing campaigns to specific audiences. It uses algorithms and predictive models, which generate sophisticated insights about user behaviour for marketers to understand better where they should focus their efforts next.
- Access more information easier through insights - Google Analytics has expanded its integrations with other Google products, like AdWords. This means that you can leverage insights from the analytics platform to optimise your campaigns.
- Address your company measurement needs - The new sub and roll-up properties in Analytics 360 make it easier than ever to customise your Google analytics 4 site for data governance needs. Now, different teams or partners can access the information they need according to company policy without any extra hassle.
Google is using this announcement as an opportunity to remind businesses that they need to start moving sooner than later—a perfect time for brands who haven't yet done so.
Although GA4 has been around for a year, constructing it now will allow companies to begin recording metrics they track, meaning that historical data will be readily available when needed.
This should also be a reminder for search marketers who have been delaying the switch over process, as it goes from optional to mandatory in 13 months. The more comfortable they become with the new GA4 interface and functions, the better prepared they will be to manage to transition.
If you're not yet using Google Analytics 4, now is the time to prepare for the switch and to begin plans to implement the new system. The new system offers a wealth of powerful data analysis features that can help you improve your business performance including enhanced security and improved usability.