Google is Deprecating Universal Analytics. Now What?

Jordan Cardonick, VP of Analytics & Technology

Anna Otieno, Head of Research, Strategy & Insights
Carli Gernot, Content Development Specialist

Google has announced it will phase out web-based Universal Analytics next year and roll out the web and app-based Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This overhaul comes as Google and other companies tackle increased consumer privacy expectations and complex international privacy legislation and regulation.

The tech giant explains that Universal Analytics properties will not be processing new data beginning July 1, 2023, and Universal Analytics 360 properties will stop processing data starting October 1, 2023. Data will be stored for a minimum of 6 months following the deprecation.

Given that GA4 is a complete re-build on the analytics infrastructure, it is important that organizations are migrating prior to those dates as there are technical components and setup required. GA4 was originally launched in 2020 and was positioned as a tool to unify web and app measurements and allowed users to generate predictive insights, access cookie-free analytics, and facilitate deeper integration with Google Ads. While updates were initially slowly rolled out, there have been a number of new features added recently, including:

  • Data-driven attribution and machine learning models to fill in data gaps given privacy restrictions and regulations
  • The ability to link GA4 to Google Search Console
  • New, refreshed GA4 home page
  • Display and Video 360 and Search Ads 360 integration

What This Means for Marketers

This shift underscores two concerns for marketers: Privacy and Implementation. Privacy concerns are top of mind for many consumers. According to GWI’s Why Privacy Matters 2021 report, 55% of US adults who delete cookies (and 46% of everyone surveyed) said they wish they knew more about how their data was being used. Further, 44% of Android users who are likely to switch to iOS cited “better data protection” as the reason. This will undoubtedly impact how brands collect and use data across their campaigns.

Adopting GA4 has other obvious logistical implications for marketers. Switching analytics systems is a complex undertaking, and issues around legacy data sources can certainly complicate things. This means that brands will need to start the planning, migration, and new implementation processes now.

How GA4 Will Impact Measurement Going Forward

There are two major ways this transition may impact how brands measure their marketing efforts going forward.

  1. GA4 will change how brands track their campaigns. This shift is inevitably going to drive brands towards a more modeled, probabilistic approach to tracking their campaign performance. At the start of this shift, marketers will need to ward off skepticism as they are forced to embrace a less defined approach to tracking.
  2. Brands will need to rely on a multi-pronged approach to measurement. With more data sources to pull from, brands will need a wide range of tools — all running concurrently — to ensure they are accurately tracking performance. This should include any mix of tools that enable data correlation analysis, streamlined testing, and even more sophisticated data modeling. By combining multiple approaches, brands can calibrate results that allow them to make informed business decisions—giving them a complete picture of their holistic business performance.

We’re Here to Help You Make Sense of Your GA4 Transition

As your teams prepare to migrate to GA4, it all comes down to planning. In order to have productive planning and implementation discussions with Google, you will need to be armed with context and understanding of how your performance data may look within the GA4 environment. These insights will help you outline a clear process for bridging the gap between legacy understandings of Google Analytics and this new implementation so you can turn data into actionable business decisions.

Are you ready to explore the future of measurement?