Google Analytics 4 (GA4): the announced end of Universal Analytics

The end of Universal Analytics has come. How to prepare for this change? What does it involve? What should be done? Here’s what we recommend.

Matteo Maggini
Posted by Matteo Maggini
on 10/04/2022

Installing the new version of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on your website is no longer an option but a necessity! Indeed, Google will deprecate Universal Analytics from 1 July 2023. This means that your Universal Analytics properties will completely stop receiving data (hits) starting in early July 2023.

What does such a change imply? How to prepare for the migration to Google Analytics 4? What are the steps for a complete migration to GA4?

We propose to answer these different questions in this article.

Context

Firstly, Universal Analytics emerged when “Digital” was synonymous with “Web”, and this is reflected in its model. Most reports were session-based, while user identification was cookie-based.

Growing consumer concerns and evolving data privacy regulations are also forcing organisations to rethink how they track customer journeys. While Universal Analytics offers limited privacy settings, GA4 is designed with user privacy in mind, with an anonymous model for tracking user behaviour (no longer storing IP addresses) and detailed private life protection controls at country level.

And while Universal Analytics was designed around the concept of “hits” (like page views), GA4 provides an event-based data model for measuring traffic across websites and apps, with or without cookies.

How to prepare for migration to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

First of all, you should know that you cannot transfer your data from a Universal Analytics property to Google Analytics 4. Your traffic data will begin to be collected in your new GA4 property as soon as you install the GA4 tag on your website.

You will still be able to access your data history in Universal Analytics for at least six months. You also have the option of exporting the history of your reports during this period so that you can store them elsewhere. Google strongly encourages you to do so.

The very first step is to create the GA4 property from your Analytics account and then install the tracking code on your website via the method of your choice (Google Tag Manager, in the site code or via a plugin in your CMS). This will allow you to collect the “raw” data on this new property. However for conversions, events and ecommerce tracking, you will be required to perform a full migration.

What are the steps for migrating a Universal Analytics property to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

The migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 involves numerous steps, the most important of which you will find listed below.

  1. Audit of existing Google Analytics account structure
  2. Creation of the Google Analytics 4 property
  3. Adding the tag to your website for example via GTM
  4. Creation of data flows
  5. Enabling data collection
  6. Enabling Google signals
  7. Creation of useful associations: Google Ads, Google Search Console, etc.
  8. Associations of Universal Analytics custom events to Google Analytics 4
  9. Migrating Universal Analytics goals and conversions to Google Analytics 4
  10. Creation of conversions
  11. Migration of audiences
  12. Migration of e-commerce measurements

Although the basic installation requires little effort, other than installing a new tracking code on the website, the real challenge is to find your configuration (events, conversions) in GA4 so that you can continue to track the same performance indicators. This is where the support of a web tracking professional can make your job easier.

How can Suisseo help you?

Whether you have an e-commerce site or not, we have the necessary expertise to install or migrate to the new version of Google Analytics on your site. As a Google Partner, we, at Suisseo, have solid knowledge of Google environments. The first installations and migrations that we were able to set up for our clients were successfully completed. Do not hesitate to contact us for any request, whether at the strategic or operational level.

Conclusion

Configure your new Google Analytics 4 property without delay to benefit from a significant data history and not to find yourself without any data on D-Day. You can also consult our latest blog article: “How to install Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?”, you will find a procedure to follow to be able to set up your GA4 property without any problems. If you want to migrate your data and you do not have the skills or the time, do not hesitate to contact us for any request, whether at the strategic or operational level.

Posted in : Analytics

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