Google recently announced that Universal Analytics (UA; the current iteration of Google Analytics) will stop processing data in the second half of 2023, with the user interface shutting down in 2024 sometime, at least 6+ months later according to Google. This blog post outlines how you can prepare for the future by deploying Google Analytics 4 (GA4) today, taking steps to preserve UA data, and training your organization to adopt GA4 as your enterprise analytics platform.
It’s official: Google announced it is eliminating Universal Analytics with actual dates. You may be asking questions like, “What happens to my Universal Analytics data?”; “What do I need to do for GA4 to replace UA?”; and “Any workarounds?.” While this news may be shocking to some, the good news is that Google is providing more than a year’s heads-up, and we have outlined a plan below to ensure you are fully equipped to migrate to the new future of Google Analytics—Google Analytics 4.
The Facts (That We Know as of Now)
On March 16, Google made an official announcement that Universal Analytics will sunset processing data in 2023 and all access to the UA user interface in 2024, as it continues to invest in GA4 as the future of analytics. However, there are nuances if you are using the enterprise (Analytics 360) version of GA today or non-360. Here is what we know:
- UA properties will stop processing data in July 2023 for free/non-360 properties.
- UA properties will stop processing data in October 2023 for 360 properties.
- 360 features in the UI will still be accessible as long as the UI is accessible. For example, unsampled data exports and more than 20 custom dimensions will remain.
- All UA user interface accesses will be shut off 6+ months later.
- GA4 360 (the enterprise version of Google Analytics 4) is available today, but we only recommend clients consider switching to GA4 360 when they are fully deployed on GA4 to solve their business use cases and especially with the elements that will be a factor in pricing GA4 360, which is based on event volume.
- This includes having event tracking in place for all digital assets, as well as the implementation of subproperties and rollup properties (in Alpha as of 3/3/2022) as these also affect GA4 360 pricing.
- Google also released news of upcoming privacy-focused features, exclusively within GA4, that will allow more data controls and customizations. One of the key reasons Google is making this move to GA4 beyond supporting two platforms for the same purpose is specifically the added privacy-focused capabilities that GA4 enables. More to come on these features as Google releases more details.
What Can I Do to Preserve My UA Data and Be Ready for Google Analytics 4?
UA is a separate set of properties than Google Analytics 4, so any usage of UA including the interface or exported data and/or downstream systems leveraging UA data will need to be rebuilt/recreated. This is why dual-tagging now with GA4 is so critical. There are solutions, however, to preserve your UA data long-term, and strategies to adopt GA4 as your new source of truth.
In short, we recommend focusing efforts on a T-ETL-T approach:
T-ETL-T – Tag, Extract, Transform, Load, Train approach
- Tag GA4 on your assets now (dual-tag, do not remove UA). See webinar here for more information about why to dual-tag now.
- Extract your UA data on a daily automated process ASAP to preserve all historical data in BigQuery or other data warehouse.
- Transform this exported data to recreate metrics that won’t be in GA4 that are available today like ecommerce conversion rate or any session-based metrics.
- Load the exported UA data into dashboards with new data sources of your data warehouse housing this data to allow for decoupling of reliance on UA interface. See webinar here for how to rebuild your dashboards with GA4.
- Train the organization for migration to GA4 by mid-2023 and/or how to access exported, transformed, and loaded data from UA in meantime.
The InfoTrust team is here to support you and your enterprise analytics needs during this migration journey. Please let us know how we can help on our next call.