In October 2020, Google announced that it would sunset its Universal Analytics platform and replace it with a newer platform, GA4. This transition is significant for marketers, analysts, and developers who rely on Google Analytics to understand their website’s performance and user behavior. This means that Google Universal Analytics is going away forever to be replaced by GA4. It is paramount for digital marketers to understand why Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics, what GA4 is, and how to migrate to GA4 from Universal Analytics.
Why is Google sunsetting Universal Analytics?
Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics for a few reasons. First, the platform has been around for over a decade, and technology has advanced significantly since then. Google Analytics was built in a time when cookies were the primary way of tracking user behavior on the web. Today, cookies are becoming less reliable due to browser privacy policies, ad blockers, and other technologies. In contrast, GA4 is designed to be privacy-centric and provide more accurate data, even without relying on cookies.
Second, GA4 is built to help marketers and analysts better understand user behavior across multiple devices and platforms. Universal Analytics was designed primarily for tracking website performance. However, as users increasingly interact with brands across multiple touchpoints, such as mobile apps, social media, and even in-store, it’s become essential to have a platform that can provide a more comprehensive view of user behavior.
What is GA4?
GA4 is the next generation of Google Analytics. It’s designed to provide a more holistic view of user behavior across multiple devices and platforms. GA4 uses a new data model and event-driven approach to tracking user behavior, which makes it more flexible and better suited to the needs of modern digital marketers.
GA4 provides a range of new features and capabilities that aren’t available in Universal Analytics. For example, GA4 allows you to track user behavior in mobile apps and on websites without relying on cookies. This means that you can still collect valuable user data even if your website visitors have opted out of cookie tracking.
GA4 also includes more advanced data analysis capabilities. For example, it provides machine learning-powered insights that can help you identify user segments, analyze trends, and predict user behavior. Additionally, GA4 integrates with Google Ads and other Google marketing tools, making it easier to measure the impact of your marketing campaigns.
How to migrate to GA4 from Universal Analytics
If you’re currently using Universal Analytics, you’ll need to migrate to GA4 to continue using Google Analytics. Migrating to GA4 can seem daunting, but Google has made the process relatively straightforward. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Set up a new GA4 property
The first step in migrating to GA4 is to set up a new GA4 property. This property will run alongside your existing Universal Analytics property, allowing you to compare data from both platforms. To set up a new GA4 property, log in to your Google Analytics account, and follow these steps:
- Click on the “Admin” tab in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
- Select the account and property you want to migrate.
- Click on “Create Property” and select “GA4” from the drop-down menu.
- Follow the instructions to set up your new GA4 property.
Install the GA4 tracking code
Once you’ve set up your new GA4 property, you’ll need to install the GA4 tracking code on your website. The GA4 tracking code is different from the Universal Analytics tracking code, so you’ll need to replace your existing code with the new one. To install the GA4 tracking code, follow these steps:
- Go to the “Admin” tab in your GA4 property.
- Click on “Data Streams” and select “Web” from the drop-down menu.
- Follow the instructions to set up your new data stream.
- Once you’ve set up your data stream, click on “Tagging Instructions” to view the GA4 tracking code.
- Copy the tracking code and replace your existing Universal Analytics tracking code with the GA4 tracking code on your website.
Set up event tracking
One of the key differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 is how they track user behavior. In Universal Analytics, you track pageviews and other predefined metrics. In GA4, you track custom events that are specific to your website or app.
To get the most out of GA4, you’ll need to set up event tracking to track user behavior on your website. Event tracking allows you to capture more detailed information about how users interact with your website, such as button clicks, form submissions, and video views.
To set up event tracking in GA4, you’ll need to define the events you want to track and configure them using the GA4 Event Builder. The Event Builder is a visual editor that allows you to define the parameters for each event, such as the event name, category, and label.
Configure data import
If you’re currently using Universal Analytics, you can import your existing data into GA4 to get a head start on your analysis. GA4 allows you to import data from Universal Analytics, Google Ads, and other sources.
To configure data import in GA4, go to the “Admin” tab and select “Data Import” from the drop-down menu. Follow the instructions to set up your data import.
Analyze your data
Once you’ve migrated to GA4 and set up event tracking and data import, you can start analyzing your data. GA4 provides a range of new analysis tools and capabilities that aren’t available in Universal Analytics.
For example, GA4 provides machine learning-powered insights that can help you identify user segments, analyze trends, and predict user behavior. It also provides a more comprehensive view of user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, allowing you to better understand how users interact with your brand.
Migrating to GA4 From UA Is Now A Must
Migrating to GA4 from Universal Analytics is essential for digital marketers, analysts, and developers who want to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. GA4 provides a range of new features and capabilities that can help you better understand user behavior and measure the impact of your marketing campaigns.
Migrating to GA4 can seem daunting, but Google has made the process relatively straightforward. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can migrate to GA4 and start taking advantage of its new features and capabilities.