Google Analytics 4 Migration

Why Is Google Sunsetting Universal Analytics?

Ken Bandong
December 7, 2022

What to Expect

Google has officially announced that it will sunset Universal Analytics (UA) on July 01, 2023, for all free customers. There is an expectation that it may delay this, but it’s smart to operate as though it will end in July.

In July 2023, it’s expected that Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits. Nevertheless, you’ll still be able to access your previously processed data for the following six months.

We know that your data is important for making business decisions. So, we strongly recommend you export your reports before it’s too late and start the migration to Google Analytics 4 ASAP.

How Can I Export My Existing Data?

Currently, there are three ways to export your historical data:

1. By exporting individual reports

a. Open the report you’d like to export,

b. Click the Export link and select format:

export link screenshot

2. By Google Analytics API

3. Or using Google BigQuery (For GA360 Customers only).

Google has advised that it’ll offer more guidance on exporting your historical data when Universal Analytics stops.

Is Your Google Ads Account Is Linked to Google Analytics?

As advised, Universal Analytics will discontinue processing hits on July 01, 2023. That said, this will also stop your data from flowing from Google Analytics to Google Ads. This can affect your data if you are:

  • Bidding on imported Universal Analytics goals or eCommerce transactions
  • Using an Audience created in Universal Analytics or
  • importing Universal Analytics site metrics

…which is why we highly suggest starting your GA4 migration as early as today. Yep, you read that right. Today.

To check whether your Universal Analytics Property is linked to a Google Ads Account, follow the steps below:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin and navigate to the property.
  3. In the Property column, click Google Ads Linking.

Property column, Google Ads Linking screenshot

From this section, you should be able to check if you have any Google Ads Accounts linked to your Universal Analytics. We recommend linking your Google Ads Account to GA4 once you have completed the migration.

Differences Between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics

There’s a big difference between Universal Analytics and GA4. Here are some real-time differences between the two:

  • Measurement model – Universal Analytics is based on sessions and pageviews, while GA4 is based on events.
  • Metrics – Most of the GA4 metrics have been renamed or modified. For example:  
Universal Analytics Metric Name GA4 Metric Name
Pageview Views
Session Session Start

            There may also be missing metrics in Universal Analytics that are present in GA4 and vice versa.

  • UI is significantly different, bringing new challenges to marketers.

To learn more about the key differences, check out this blog post (+ video) by us. There's also an article by Google for comparing metrics in UA and GA4.

Why Is Google Stopping Universal Analytics?

Google has advised that the method used for Universal Analytics in online measurements, such as sessions and cookies, is slowly becoming obsolete.

UA was designed for a website-first marketing analytics perspective. However, as users start using multiple platforms (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.), the journey a prospect takes has become more fragmented. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is designed to fix that.

Furthermore, unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 is designed with privacy as a priority, providing a worry-free experience for you and your customers.

We also think Google is attempting to move more users to a paid platform with their Google Analytics 360 services. 

Read this blog by Google for further information on closing the chapter for Universal Analytics.

When Should I Switch to Google Analytics 4?

You could wait until next year before you migrate. But, it’s best to switch as soon as possible because you likely want to have Year Over Year data to compare when the change happens in July of 2023. By switching now, not only will you get the data you need, but you’ll also be able to understand and see the changes currently being implemented in GA4.

Change is difficult, and having a completely different User Interface and features is very confusing. This is why we built this platform for you to ease your worries and leave every aspect of GA4 to us!

How Can Marketers Adapt? 

The way users are being tracked online is evolving yearly. The same goes for Google Analytics. And it’s important to understand that marketers can’t compare data on Universal Analytics to GA4 as both platforms have different measurement methods.

So, how will you adapt to these changes? Training and education is your answer. The migration is so complex that even the best marketers need time for learning. Hence, starting the migration process today is crucial as the GA4 platform is relatively new, with many ongoing changes and features being implemented.

What Are the Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4?

The launch of GA4 by Google provides marketers and data analysts more robust and smarter insights. This will, in turn, improve marketing strategy and help to understand users effectively. We have indicated a list of some of the benefits that you can get from using GA4 below.

1. Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Measurement

GA4 can track both app and web data in one property which enables you to view a more customer-centric behavior.

2. Built-in Enhanced Measurement

GA4 has a built-in tracking for events that’s automatically collected once enabled.

3. Debugging View

GA4 has the ability to show you whether your Analytics configuration was correct within the User Interface and validate your changes.

4. Better Privacy Settings for You and Your Users.

IP addresses are considered identifiers under GDPR and are considered as Personally Identifiable Information(PII). Previously, you’d have to manually implement IP anonymization features with Universal Analytics. GA4 has a built-in IP anonymization feature which is automatically enabled.

In addition to this, GA4 has equipped you to choose whether or not to support data collection for Ads Personalization. It allows you to do this by enabling Google Signals and customizing Ads Personalization by region.

5. Free Integration to BigQuery

GA4 comes with a free integration to Google BigQuery. Unlike Universal Analytics where this feature is only available for GA360 customers, you may now use this feature when using GA4 and query raw GA4 data. This feature can be useful when connecting your GA4 data to an external data source.

6. Ability to Create Custom Reports With Visualizations (Explore)

GA4 provides the ability to create various explorations for data analysis.

7. Predictive Capabilities Using Machine Learning

GA4 has the ability to enrich your data by bringing machine learning expertise on your dataset and predict future behavior of your users.

  • Predictive Metrics
  • Predictive Audiences

8. Setting Up User-ID Without Implementation

With GA4, you don’t need to create an entirely different view and implement User ID tracking as it’s automatically collected. This means that you do not need to go through the tedious process of setting up a User ID collection, making your work efficient.

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Ken has been providing Analytics support and giving insights for 4 years and currently works as an Analytics Specialist at AnalyticsMates and Zen Anchor. He is passionate in providing meaningful insights through data captured in Google Analytics. When not analyzing data, he is frequently backpacking the mountains with his dog and enjoys the serenity of being one with nature.

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