Google Analytics 4 is replacing Universal Analytics. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is Google Replacing Universal Analytics?
Google claims that Google Analytics 4 has several advantages over Universal Analytics (UA). The new property type is said to provide “smarter” and more holistic insights into how customers interact with your business.
What’s Different About Google Analytics 4?
Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) use different measurement models; while UA’s is based on pageviews and sessions, GA4’s is event-based. The idea is to keep the focus on the actions a user takes across platforms and devices, something that UA can only do in a limited capacity.
A lot of changes have also been made to reporting metrics. For example, in UA, there are two types of users: “Total Users” and “New Users.” GA4 has three user metrics: “Total Users,” “New Users,” and “Active Users.”
Certain metrics are also being done away with entirely, such as “Bounce Rate,” a metric Google claims “...was a reasonable measure of site engagement at one time, but has become less useful as websites and apps have changed.” Instead, GA4 will report “Engagement Rate,” which provides a percentage of sessions that meet certain criteria.
Google has provided an article that explains all the main differences between old and new reports.
Making the Switch
If you’re currently Universal Analytics, you’ll need to make the switch over to Google Analytics 4 before July 1, 2023, which is when Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits. Google has provided a number of resources to ease the transition from UA to GA4.
If you already have UA running for a property, you might see a GA4 Setup Assistant tab in the admin section of Google Analytics’s settings. This option will guide you through the steps of creating a new GA4 property, and you will see a basic explanation of what will happen when this property is created.
Creating a GA4 property will activate “enhanced measurement,” which is explained here. You may also have the option to enable data collection using your existing tags, depending on whether your UA is using gtag.js or Google Tag Manager.
Crucially, you will not lose the original UA property by creating a GA4 property. Google Analytics will simply use the original property to copy certain settings as it creates the GA4 property.
What Will Happen to My Old Data?
According to Google, users will be able to access historical data from UA for “at least six months.” The company recommends exporting historical reports, and says it will provide a date in the future for when existing UA properties will no longer be visible.
If you need help creating or maintaining your GA4 properties, Relevance Advisors can help. Reach out today.