If you understood the title of this article we figured we might as well just cut to the chase…
What does this GA4 shift mean?
- Starting July 1st, 2023 all Universal Google Analytics accounts will stop pulling in new data from your website.
- Legacy data in Universal Google Analytics Accounts will be available until July 1, 2024 – at least 1 year after it stops recording data, based on recent announcements (UA historical data supported until 2024).
- Google Analytics is forcing a complete migration of older Universal Analytics to the newer GA4 tool.
- This migration work will not happen automatically, and it is on each organization to migrate code, and export legacy data.
- For nonprofits, Google Ad Grant may be at risk if it isn’t connected to a working Google Analytics property.
- Can you just ignore this and hope the problem solves itself: nope
- Yes, this is as annoying as you think it is. Here is an article about the differences between UA and GA4.
Here is the exact language as of April 2021 from Google’s announcement:
Universal Analytics will be going away
How do I tell if I have Universal Analytics or GA4 on my site?
Chances are you probably have Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4 came out 2.5 years ago and most organizations don’t update their analytics unless they have a website overhaul. It is also very possible that BOTH Universal Analytics and GA4 are installed on the site, something that Whole Whale has recommended and done for our clients.
Here are couple quick ways to check:
Login to Google Analytics
Go into your Analytics.Google.com login and look at your property codes as follows ([UA→GA4] How to check property type – Analytics Help)
If your only view looks like this, it is a Universal Analytics account. It will also have this alert at the top:
The newer GA4 dashboard should look like this.
Noting that this sidebar menu pops out with different navigation options and no longer has the “Audience. Acquisition, Behavior”:
What should you do about the Universal GA deprecation?
DO THIS STUFF NOW
- Setup a Google Analytics 4 property and get the code on your site, ideally through Google Tag Manager. Here is the GA guide: Meet the next generation of Google Analytics. It is important to prioritize doing this as soon as possible as you can’t collect any data until this is in place which will hurt things like year over year comparisons.
- This is a GREAT time to move to Google Tag Manager as it will create a home for all of the different tracking codes your site has, track changes and make sure they don’t hurt site speed as much. Here is our guide on Google Tag Manager for nonprofits.
- Check to make sure your account is collecting data. The real time users are a good way to quickly do this. Here is the Google guide on this: Make the switch to Google Analytics 4
- Connect your GA4 Property to Google Ads and Google Ad Grant accounts.
DO THIS STUFF LATER (but not too late)
- Begin creating your reports and dashboards from the new GA4 property as data comes in.
- Get familiar with GA4 with Google’s courses: Google Analytics 4
- As the deadline approaches start exporting your data: Export and share reports – Analytics Help
- Consider how you might build some legacy data visualizations with Google Data Studio if you export to CSV.
Why is Google Analytics doing this?
This is completely our view based on reading between the lines and also watching increasing regulations like GDPR and evolving data tracking through cookie policies. The rules changed underneath this useful product and it seems like there may be bigger issues at play around prepping for the future of privacy regulations. We think there is a reason why this is the first bullet in the announcement:
Thanks, but I’m still frustrated
Yup, we kinda get what we pay for in this game… If you are next level frustrated with team Google you can explore open source web tracking solutions like Matomo which are really cool, BUT be aware that as of April 2022, the Google Ad Grant requires a working GA account.
Also, here is a song to keep on repeat while you do the work…