December 09, 2021
Head of Insights and Innovation
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As of the 1st of July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop recording data on your website and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take over. Up until this time, many businesses haven’t begun to think about what this is and what it means for them. It is more important than ever to implement GA4 to gather enough data ahead of this date.
Google Analytics 4 has been marketed as the “new generation” of Google Analytics – it can create a hybrid of Web and App data to present a new way of reporting that’s quite different from the reports we’re all familiar with as part of the existing platform, Universal Analytics (UA).
Historical data from your Universal Analytics data currently does not transfer over into GA4, which is why we recommend setting up GA4 tracking as soon as possible to avoid missing out, however, we do suggest keeping UA installed so you have plenty of data to work with while GA4 has time to grow and evolve.
Google Analytics 4 is a new and improved version of the system originally known as App + Web property. The platform is said to have machine learning at its core, which means it can help surface insights to the user. We have already seen a small sample of this within the standard Universal Analytics properties, but this sounds like an upgrade. They hope this new generation of Google Analytics will help to provide a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms.
Another key feature of this new analytics platform is that it’s designed with privacy at its core. GA4 anonymises IP addresses by default, meaning it always remains GDPR compliant, it is more aggressive with data retention, limiting the user to hold data for 2 months/14 months, compared with the option in the old Google Analytics which you could set to “do not automatically expire”. Finally GA4 has a consent mode which allows for intricate cookie tracking to help users better comply with new industry standards introduced alongside iOS 14.
There are quite a few big changes between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics. Currently, both accounts can provide you with different data and reports. For this reason, we’d recommend running both in parallel to make sure you are not missing out on any key information.
These are some of the main differences to be aware of between Google Analytics and Universal Analytics, although it is an ever-growing list as the platform evolves.
If you don’t already, we would recommend getting Google Analytics 4 installed and running in parallel with Universal Analytics on your website to allow it to start collecting data. Over the next few months, this will be a key area of focus for our business and we’ll continue to share any further news and updates as they are released.
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