the switch from UA to GA4

Have you heard the latest HUGE news in the realm of digital marketing? This is that Google Analytics will stop processing data through Universal Analytics (or “UA”) and switch to Google Analytics 4 (or “GA4”) on July 1, 2023. In order to keep data secure in Google Analytics, they recommend that anyone using UA switches NOW. Here, we will talk about some important facts behind this and help you manage the transition. 

What is GA4 and How is it Different From UA?

Google Analytics 4 is Google’s latest offering in the analytics and data-tracking department, first released in October 2020. While it may look similar to Universal Analytics at first glance, there are several key differences in both softwares. This makes the switch from UA to GA4 a slightly rough transition for businesses and digital marketers.

Universal Analytics is a data tracking platform that organizes and collects data for websites and apps. The program was introduced in 2005, after Google purchased the company Urchin, and more accurately measured user behavior compared to alternative analytic measuring programs at the time. Universal Analytics has been with us for a long time as our standard, however the new kid on the block, GA4, will replace UA altogether. 

Why is Google Analytics Completely Switching Platforms?

Google states that its major reasons for the switch are changes in user behavior and privacy standards. They’re making this switch because GA4 can collect a lot more data than Universal Analytics, and it gives more insight into people’s behavior. Another factor is UA’s inability to deliver cross-platform insights; whereas, GA4 can measure data across websites and apps seamlessly.

Can I Transfer My Data From UA to GA4?

In short, no. You can not transfer your data from UA to GA4. This is because Universal Analytics is a system that has been around for 18+ years and GA4 was built from the ground up so no information can be transferred.

Because all data that’s JUST on UA will be lost, it is important to implement GA4 sooner than later. This data will stop being tracked July 1, 2023, and rumor has it that Google will hold data for approximately 6 months before erasing the database. This means that we don’t yet know when Google will erase all of the data on UA. We only know when it will stop tracking. Even so, technically, by using and reusing the UA tag and existing tags to send traffic to GA4, they will automatically partially configure GA4.

This is an alarming and important fact for companies and individuals using UA to track their data. Some may not be aware of how to successfully migrate to GA4 as it requires some technical knowledge. So, at Dowden Consulting, we’re offering a web retainer to help you transfer and save any relevant data needed and to migrate to GA4 successfully. If you are already set up on a web retainer, we will assist you on this migration to back up your data. Contact us for a consultation

The Benefits and Downsides of Using GA4 Over UA

Google Analytics 4 has some key advantages over Universal Analytics. These advantages are as follows: 

  • Better Customer Journey Tracking
  • Delivers cross-platform insights
  • Simplified setup and overall experience
  • Improved customization of tracking parameters 
  • Faster data access and storage
  • More powerful audiences for ad campaigns
  • Enhanced reporting
  • More intelligent user privacy
  • Improved user engagement analysis
  • Automatically detects changes to recognizes trends and discrepancies
  • Offers more control over data

Although these advantages are profitable, this platform also has some downsides to consider when compared to Universal Analytics. These downsides are as follows:

  • Requires a new property (no historical data will transfer over from Universal Analytics to GA4)
  • Released very early and is a somewhat “new” platform
  • More complicated Ecommerce tracking
  • Geared toward the corporations who know the analytics and outsource the rest
  • Separate tools for data collection, reporting, and analyzing
  • Having to change and get used to the way it tracks goals as opposed to UA
  • Less control over implementation and data collection 
  • limited configuration options

The switch from UA to GA4 is a big development and has left many people confused. Never-the-less, it is an essential step for anyone using Google’s analytics platforms. GA4 has been carefully designed to provide essential analytics and insights for businesses and has advanced algorithms that ensure every user’s privacy is respected. With customizable dashboards and real-time insights available on the go, GA4 encourages a culture of data-driven decision-making. 

Making the switch from UA to GA4 is a natural progression and if used properly, it can enhance and maximize your analytical capabilities. So, if you’re ready to take that next step, make the switch today. If you have questions about how to migrate your data to GA4 or need to make the migration correctly, reach out to us for a consultation

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-Onycha Lee

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