The end of Google’s Universal Analytics has a date

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Today marks a big change in the website and app analytics environment. For a few years now, Google Analytics has had two versions: Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. It was a common approach for business owners and analytics teams to track in both systems in parallel, writing web traffic to a property of Universal Analytics and a GA4 property.

Today Google announced the date for the shutdown of the “old” Universal Analytics service (or better to say 2 dates).

The End of Universal Analytics

Google has always communicated transparently that Universal Analytics is the past and Google Analytics 4 is the future. Over the last years, they’ve worked on setting the foundations for a smooth transition from UA to GA4.

Now that we have been informed about the end of the service, it is important to know that you can still run both services in parallel to get used to GA4. Companies should start to act now and not consider GA4 as an annoying side project, as some important features are still missing.

The new features for the Google Analytics platform from the last months were already to 90% for the new Google Analytics 4 environment.
Even when you are looking at the new features for the Google Analytics environment from the last months, nearly everything was for Google Analytics 4.

Google officially revealed when the Universal Analytics Properties are not collecting one hit anymore. Then it is just possible to look in the historical data of the UA Properties for the next 6 months.

So the two ending dates are:

  • 01.07.2023 for all free users
  • 01.10.2023 for all paid users (360 Customers)

After these dates, you have to use your GA4 Properties to get new insights of your website performance.

Overview about GA4

Between the “old” Universal Analytics and the “new” Google Analytics 4, there are some big differences. And there a changes for every person who comes into contact with Google Analytics 4:

  • People track the Website, create the tags in GTM and send them to Google Analytics
  • People watching the analytics reports on the platform
  • People get the data in BigQuery and structure them to build more detailed and custom analysis

So next, I want to give you a short description of the differences between UA and GA4:

  • Universal Analytics differentiates between page views and events. So the user visits a new page and on the page, the user can trigger events. In GA4 everything is an event, so a page view is an event and a click on a button is an event too
  • In Universal Analytics an Event can have 3 additional information: Event Category, Event Action and Event Label. In GA4 every event can have 25 different parameters which are key-value pairs
  • The whole structure of the Google Analytics platform, the navigation and the design of the reports changes
The new GA4 navigation
  • GA4 also focuses more on Customization. You can change existing reports and create new charts. Especially at the beginning, it is sometimes a bit overwhelming.
  • In Google Analytics 4 are still some important features missing like custom Channel Groupings and a Referral Exclusion List
  • All users of GA4 can export the data from their property to their BigQuery instance (In UA it was just possible for 360 paid users)
  • For sure also the structure of the exported BigQuery data changed, it is also just based on events and their parameters

What comes next?

Next to this transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, there is also another change in the tracking world which at least I want to mention here. I am talking about client-side and server-side tracking. For many years people tracking the behavior of the users on the website with the help of GTM with a JavaScript code that is implemented on the client.

Now it is even possible to track the user behavior with the support of a server endpoint. In GTM it is a new kind of container. The Website or client container sends requests to the server when something important happened and the server container (which should run under a subdomain) transform the data and sends them to GA4 and other 3rd party tools.

This has security, client performance and tracking accuracy improvements. Google does here the same thing as for UA/GA4 so you can use both environments in parallel and they can also complement each other. But there will be the point, where server-side tracking is at least the absolute main focus for Google and also for the people implementing the tracking on the website.

How datadice will help you?

We have already a lot of experience in Google Analytics 4 and server-side tracking. We use it in many customer projects. So we can help you with the implementation of a new tracking environment and enrich your Google Analytics 4 property. Let us know if we can support you here.

We will also publish a lot of new blog posts about this topic in the next weeks and months, to also support you in this way.

Further Links

Check out our LinkedIn account, to get insights into our daily working life and get important updates about BigQuery, Data Studio and marketing analytics

We also started with our own YouTube channel. We talk about important DWH, BigQuery, Data Studio and many more topics. Check out the channel here.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Data Studio and take it to the next level in combination with BigQuery, check our Udemy course here.

If you are looking for help to set up a modern and cost-efficient data warehouse or analytical dashboards, send us an email to hello@datadice.io and we will schedule a call.

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datadice

Agency of Business Intelligence specialists, based in Coburg, DE. Building modern, customized and cloud-based data warehouse solutions. https://www.datadice.io/