Google will shut down Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. Its sucessor Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is very different, so many questions arise in this transition phase to GA4. Here, we answer to most basic questions, like when should I upgrade to Google Analytics 4? What happens to my existing data? Are there any disadvantages running Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics in parallel? Should I change to an alternative like Matomo?
When should you switch to Google Analytics 4?
Google's announcement that it will no longer process new data in the Universal Analytics standard properties from July 1, 2023 has reduced the time options for your migration.
By all means, you have three points in time when you should have completed your move to Google Analytics 4:
1. July 1, 2022, then you have 1 year of data history.
2. January 1, 2023, then you have half a year of data history.
3. July 1, 2023, then you have the longest time to migrate but no data history in GA4 when you start.
If you upgrade from your existing Universal Analytics property to the new Google Analytics 4 property, your old property will remain and you will create a new GA4 property. So you don't really switch, you create a new GA4 property in the same Google Analytics account. The advantage is certain settings, such as the settings in the user administration, are transferred to the new GA4 property.
Why should I switch to Google Analytics 4?
Google's announcement that it will no longer process new data in the old Universal Analytics standard properties from July 1, 2023 has made things clear. You have no choice, if you want to stay with Google. Of course, you can switch to Matomo instead.
In case, you want to continue using Google you better start planning your migration now:
1. Audit existing Universal Analytics implementation
2. Plan what data and metrics you need
3. Plan the technical implementation based on your metrics
4. Implement the technical setup
5. Set up reporting and training
Are there any disadvantages of running Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 in parallel?
No, you don't have any disadvantages, quite the opposite. When you upgrade to Google Analytics 4, you create a completely new property (GA4) in your Google Analytics account. However, you are not migrating any data from your old Universal Analytics (UA) property, you are only transferring settings, for example from your user administration, to the new GA4 property. Your old user data will still be recorded in Universal Analytics, but you now have time to familiarize yourself with the new GA4 property. You can test settings, such as goals, in GA 4 while your old data continues to flow into the old UA property. You gain insights into the engagement of your users via the automatic implementation of data streams. Data such as scrolls, video engagement or downloads are automatically logged as soon as you have completed your setup.
What else do I need to consider when upgrading to GA4?
Are there alternatives?
Yes, Matomo is an excellent alternative to Goolge Analytics. In addition to being fully GDPR compliant, you can import all your historical data into Matomo. Google Analytics 4 does not have an option to import data from its predecessor, Universal Analytics, because it's underlying data model is completely different. This means that businesses won’t be able to import and compare data from previous years.
At the end of the day, the worst thing any business can do is nothing. Waiting until July 2023 to start the migration process to GA4 or another web analytics platform is too late. Businesses need to consider their options now and start migrating in the next few months. Moving to Google Analytics 4 can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor if you have a complex ecommerce setup.
In addition the global trend towards increased data privacy is also something that you need to consider when selecting an analytics platoform. Platforms like Google Analytics use data for advertising and transfer data across borders. While there are settings that anonymize the data, the overall legal situation is not that clear. We recommend Matomo as alternative that we also use ourselves.
Get in touch with us and start your migration project today.
GDPR Compliant Data Collection
Use GDPR compliant tools to collect user data. Stop worrying about legal implications of Google analytics and other similar tools.