Google Analytics 4 replaces Universal Analytics
This doesn't affect me - or does it?
Why does this affect everyone who owns a website and wants to know what is happening on their website?
It's simple: because Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will replace Universal Analytics (UA) from 01.07.2023, which was previously used to analyze websites. So there is no choice for switching to GA4 for website analytics. It is only a matter of "How?"
According to Google, GA4 has extensive benefits:
"Improved machine learning capabilities, meaningful reports, and new integrations help you adapt
to everchanging privacy and technology developments and continue to get reliable information."
This raises a few questions for website owners, which we'll answer here shortly.
How can I see if I'm using UA or already using GA4?
You are using Universal Analytics (UA) if
- Your Property IDs start with UA and end with a number (UA-XXXXXXX-1).
- You created your Property before October 14, 2020. If so, you are probably using a Universal Analytics property.
You are using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) if.
- Your Property IDs consist only of numbers (XXXXXXXXX).
- You set up the property after October 14, 2020. Then you are probably using a Google Analytics 4 property.
When is the transition from UA to GA4 planned? And can I continue to use UA to collect my data?
- Standard properties in Universal Analytics will only be able to collect data until June 30, 2023.
- Historical data should remain viewable in Universal Analytics for another 6 months.
- For Universal Analytics 360 properties, the processing deadline is July 1, 2024.
- Google Analytics 4 has been available to set up for some time. Starting July 1, 2023, data will be collected exclusively in Google Analytics 4.
Learn more about what to expect.
When should I switch to GA4?
To consider the right time, it's important to know that UA's historical data cannot be fully imported into GA4 - either automatically or manually. Therefore, it is best to switch to GA4 as early as possible so that the website data can be entered into GA4 and developments can be seen and interpreted.
The best time for the changeover was certainly 01.07.2022, in order to already collect the website data in GA4 and to be able to perform a complete annual comparison in GA4 for the data from 01.07.2023 onwards, or 01.01.2023, in order to at least still be able to perform a half-year comparison in GA4.
Anyone who has let both dates pass should now incorporate GA4 as soon as possible, in order to at least be able to assess the different data collections of GA4 and UA for their own website.
Should I switch to GA4 and delete the UA property at the same time?
No... In GA4, new metrics have been added or previous metrics have been redefined. These include the measurements users, page views, purchases, sessions, session and access-based acquisition metrics, conversions, bounce rate, and event count.
With parallel collection, it is apparent which differences in metrics are due to the different definition of these metrics and which are due to the actual development of the website. Therefore, both alternatives should first be run in parallel to capture the data in both systems.
Can I take the historical data from UA with me?
Yes and no. Google does not provide this (actually practical) possibility of migrating all measurement values, because the measurement values are (partly) different and new measurement values have been defined. If you want to migrate Google Ads links, target projects, users and target groups, you have to do it actively.
Can I access historical data from UA in the future?
Historical data should definitely be backed up, as Google only allows access to previously processed data in your Universal Analytics property for at least 6 months. To avoid losing important data, be sure to export reports.
Article written by: BH - 18.01.23