Welcome to part two of our series on Google Analytics’ big changes coming in 2023. If you haven’t read part one yet, go back and check it out first.
Now that we’re all on the same page about what Google Analytics is and why you are (or should) be using it, let’s dive into what’s happening with the big change from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Why is Google going this?
Back in the glory days of Universal Analytics, tracking online was heavily reliant on cookie data and most websites were primarily visited from desktop browsers, with mobile being more of a new anomaly. Fast forward to the roaring 20s, the majority of traffic online is mobile. Many brands not only rely on mobile but also have their own apps as well.
As our needs for tracking online have changed, Google has done what they can to keep Universal Analytics tracking what matters most. But as the discussion around online privacy continues, resulting in a move away from third-party cookies, and our mobile-first needs evolve, making the old Analytics framework function isn’t going to continue to work.
What’s so great about GA4?
Believe it or not, there should be a lot of benefits to moving to the new GA4 tracking. According to Search Engine Land, “Google Analytics 4 provides a more complete cross-channel view of the customer lifecycle and puts that information to use with predictive marketing features, providing marketers with more information and efficient ways to act on those insights.”
And there are several key features that GA4 will support that UA was not capable of:
- New AI-powered insights and predictions
- Deeper audience integration with Google Ads
- Customer lifecycle-framed reporting
- Codeless Event tracking
- More granular user data controls
- Analytics in a cookie-less future
You can dig into these key features and more here.
Is the sky falling?
So what does this mean for you? First and foremost, this is going to depend on your online setup. If you have a single, simple website, this probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. You will need to get a new tracking code set up on your site, and the sooner you do this the better. While the existing Universal Analytics won’t be sunset until July 2023, if you make the jump sooner you have a full year to test and QC your new analytics setup to ensure consistent reporting.
For larger enterprise setups, this is going to be a much bigger undertaking. You need to start talking to your web team now and make a plan to move to the new Analytics setup in a way that won’t mess up your tracking and historical data.
Analytics and web tracking is the kind of thing we only think about when we need it. But in this case, a little advanced planning will go a long way. No matter your online setup, now is the time to talk to your web team and make a plan to make the shift in a way that will make it as smooth and seamless as possible.