Google Analytics, one of the most popular free services offered by Google aiding publishers in accomplishing their business goals, undergoes a profound change; and when it’s finally made – there is no return. The need for development results from changes in internet users behavior and privacy-driven problems that made old solutions outdated to emerging industry standards. Thus, on July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics (UA) will be switched off for good.
Recent Google announcements made it clear – the near future brings a significant change in the worldwide digital publishers’ lives. And what I mean by that is introducing the new version of Google Analytics: Google Analytics 4. This development will undoubtedly shake the content creators’ world, but it doesn’t have to bring only obstacles. Now is the time to decide – you can update the old version of UA or resign completely from Google as a provider of these services and start using an entirely different platform. As said before, there’ll be no way to stay with the outdated version, so better prepare yourself to make this significant choice. If you want to remain with Google, in this article you will get to know what to do next.
Get prepared for the change
Well, change is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be scary. If you take care of it with the right timing, you can benefit from it greatly and let this challenge become a promising opportunity! Old Google Analytics will stop gathering data on July 1, 2023, but you can already start synchronizing the newest version, so make sure to install GA4 as soon as possible, and everything will be fine! To dispel all your doubts – you can currently run both platforms (the old GA and the new one) simultaneously. The outdated version will stay intact, while you can start collecting historical data and benefit from the introduced developments in GA4. So, the quicker you decide to do that – the better. If you wait until the last minute with the implementation, you will lose a chance to make any use of your previous archival data, because it will all be lost. Don’t make that mistake! Google informs you about the changes in advantage for a reason, so don’t ignore that.
Major differences between properties
The main difference between Google Analytics 4 and the old version is the way how these two track data. The most significant changes are:
- Cross-platform analytics and switch to user-centric measurement. Google Analytics 4 tracks web and app data thanks to the User IDs and unique Google signals, which results in a new level of ad personalization;
- New Dashboard. Newly developed analytical features needed to be presented in a completely new light, which gave birth to the latest dashboard version;
- Developed metrics. Page views aren’t the most essential metric anymore – meaning session-level reporting is fragmented and broadened by a new array of engagement metrics;
- Predictive Insights. Thanks to machine learning, past behavior analysis allows for deriving predictive metrics to make data-driven decisions;
- A higher customization level gives you more control over the platform and its metrics. Accessing deeper insights enable you to use them to your advantage.
Where do the changes come from?
Security regulations such as GDPR and CCPA were a major causing factor starting a domino effect of subsequent changes introduced by Google. What’s more, the previous tracking system was limited as it didn’t consider users who used incognito modes, cleaned their cookies, or used ad blockers, which led to collecting untrue information. To avoid that, Google Analytics 4 stopped using cookies. Thus, tracking no longer provides untrustworthy data so that you can get the most significant and adequate analytical results. Finally, worldwide digital progress and the growing number of devices per person forced the industry to come up with new solutions that wouldn’t track internet users by a device but rather a personalized ID.
What does it mean for website publishers?
Due to significant developments in statistics, thematic models, and deeper insights into users behaviors, Google Analytics 4 can provide detailed information about the whole user journey. Thanks to more advanced customer usage metrics, AI, and machine learning, users are treated like unique human beings with well-diagnosed systems of behaviors. Before, traffic information was the deciding factor in website effectiveness assessment and an indicator of where to focus the marketing efforts. In the new version, the publisher will have access to more detailed data, so he can get to know his users better and tailor applied solutions to their specific needs. Also, GA4 considers user privacy, making these aspects even more essential than the old version.
If you currently use the Universal Analytics property but want to switch to the newest version, you may get started with Google Analytics 4. It’s still being developed, but the faster you’ll get to know it – the better use you’ll make of it once it’s fully up and running 🙂