The valuable data you get from Google Analytics, namely Google Universal Analytics (UA), is transitioning to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google introduced Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2020 with new features driven by changing customer behavior and government regulations. Since Google will discontinue the UA version during 2023, it’s a good idea to setup GA4 now. As of July, 2023, no new data will be available on UA. Soon after that, you will no longer be able to view your UA historical data. You will only be able to view GA4 data. If you transition now, you will have more than a year’s data in the new format, which you can use to make design, content and marketing decisions that can improve conversion rates and increase revenues.

One of the main benefits of Google Analytics is the ability to track the visitors on your website. You can learn where they come from, what pages they visit and if they complete any of your calls to action.

How will the new GA4 data be different?

  • GA4 has evolved data gathering methods in response to increased consumer demand for privacy. With UA, Google relies on cookies to gather activity data. As more customers opt out of first party cookies, businesses lose their data and are left with an incomplete view of website activity. Instead of solely relying on cookies, GA4 uses machine learning to gather activity data. It follows government data regulations while giving businesses activity data. You may not be able to identify users, but can use the activity data to assess marketing efforts.
  • Difference in Events: In UA, marketers set up parameters for different types of hits. This required marketers to set up variables, triggers and tags to track different types of events. With GA4, events are pre-designated with names like category, action, and label. Events are triggered when a user interacts with your site or app. Analytics collects events for Android and iOS apps. Events can be collected automatically or can be custom or enhanced measurement events. For more information, visit Google Analytics Help.
  • SPAM reduction: GA4 reduces the amount of spam. Unlike UA, where it is easy to send spam data to your Google Analytics protocol, GA4 requires a secret key that is not publicly visible. This improvement will decrease or eliminate spam referrals, making your data more reliable.

Since the look of your data will change to reflect these and other changes, you will want to give yourself time to get used to the fresh look and feel of GA4. Remember, the change goes into effect in July, 2023, and you want to be prepared.

Setting up GA4

Before you set up a GA4 property, we recommend you keep your UA property for now. Set up a GA4 in addition to your existing UA property. Having both will allow you to continue generating data using the UA format and generate data using the GA4 format. When UA goes away, you will have well over a year’s data under GA4, allowing you to start with a good history. Having both for the time being also allows you to become familiar with GA4.

The main thing to remember is to start now. Set up your GA4 property now so you will be ready when the UA property is discontinued. No new data will generate on UA after July 1, 2023. Several months later (no actual date yet), your UA data will not be accessible.

We know that setting up a new GA4 property may seem daunting. Google offers an on-line tutorial on setting up a GA4 property. Or, contact us for help in setting up GA4 properties for your business website.

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